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Dutch Agency Employs RFID to Track Social Services

Werk aan de Wijk is using NFC-enabled cell phones and 13.56 MHz RFID cards to dispense aid and receive payment for it.
By Rhea Wessel
Sep 07, 2007Dutch social services provider Werk aan de Wijk is employing NFC-enabled cell phones as mobile point-of-sale (POS) terminals. Based in the city of Breda, Werk aan de Wijk provides a variety of social services, such as cooking for the elderly or helping people with small repairs. The organization's workers use the NFC-enabled phones to check in and out at customers' homes, as well as to allow customers to pay for services rendered in their homes, and to enable workers to sell additional credit vouchers to clients on the spot.

The companies behind the project say this is the first commercial installation of an NFC-enabled cell phone as a mobile POS terminal. The system has wide implications for the wireless payment market since it can significantly lower the price of a mobile POS device, says Michael Letterer, head of Hamburg, Germany-based Michael Letterer Project Management and Consulting, which initiated and managed the project.

Michael Letterer
U.S. software company RFCyber developed the NFC mobile phone Java application and the over-the-air (OTA) provisioning software that converts a Nokia 3220 NFC-enabled phone into a mobile POS device. That same software will eventually be used with the Nokia 6131 NFC phone. These phones typically cost less than €200 ($275) apiece, Letterer says, while NFC-enabled PDAs and other mobile POS devices can sell for nearly €1,000 ($1,376). The worker-administration system used by Werk aan de Wijk was developed by Adaptive Planet, a company based in Ijsselstein, Netherlands. Adaptive Planet also performed some systems integration for the project.

"If you think of the economics, the NFC mobile POS terminal opens up a whole new range of applications," Letterer explains. "We made the phone into a bidirectional communication device that even allows the deduction and sales of e-tokens [credit vouchers] between the end user and the service technician who uses the mobile POS."

According to Letterer, current NFC-enabled phone-based payment systems debit funds from the credit balance preloaded on the phone. This, he says, is the first commercial NFC implementation using bidirectional communication.

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