European banks issue guidelines for NFC payments

The European Payments Council (EPC) has released draft guidelines governing the use of Near Field Communications (NFC) technology for mobile payments. The Council, which represents the European banking industry, has also called for stakeholder submissions on the subject, with the deadline for feedback on June 17th this year.

The Mobile Contactless (SEPA – Single Euro Payments Area) Payments Interoperability Implementation document deals entirely with NFC, giving details of service models, processes, security, architecture  and lifecycle management for mobile payment applications. According to the EPC, it is seeking to promote the use of open standards while clarifying the roles of key stakeholders in order to “establish confidence in this environment.”

Dag-Inge Flatraaker, chairman of the EPC’s M-Channel working group, has said that while the Council is keen to advance activity in all areas of mobile payments, the group’s initial focus will be on NFC alone. He said that the EPC was also developing implementation guidelines for mobile remote payments to be released at a later stage.

In order to avoid fragmentation, the EPC is working with other relevant organisations in the m-payments space, including GlobalPlatform (which standardises applications on secure chip technology), the GSMA and Mobey Forum (a global cross-industry forum that operates from a banking perspective).  In October 2010, the EPC and GSMA jointly published a paper on the requirements and specifications for mobile contactless payments services.

The current document explores NFC implementations on phones with integrated support (such as Samsung’s Google-branded Nexus S) as well as the use of NFC on SIM or microSD cards. Guidelines outlining the security requirements for each component are included, alongside an overview of standards and specifications currently in place. The EPC document points to what it sees as a need for greater standards development if NFC m-payments are to achieve widespread adoption. A final version of the document is expected to be issued in October this year.

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