UPDATED Visa approves RIM tool for secure mobile payments

Alex Walls
January 16, 2013


The backend process referred to how a financial institution could install and personalize credentials onto a mobile device so it could be used to make a payment or gain access to a building, a RIM spokesman said.  The credentials usually stored on a chip on credit cards, which would be sent to a company to physically attach it to a card, had to be transmitted to a device and connections to the chip needed to be managed since multiple providers would need to send credentials to the device.  RIM’s infrastructure managed the chip  or Secure Element and facilitated the process financial institutions used to provide credentials securely to the SIM card on any NFC-enabled device.

Visa’s approval for RIM’s delivery process and its security told card institutions they could safely deliver the necessary credentials to a customer’s smartphone to allow them to start making ‘tap-and-go’ payments with the device, he said.

However, it looks like this process still replies on NFC chips being in smartphones, a large hurdle to uptake of the technology, as detailed below.

The process was involved, he said, which included on-site review to evaluate physical and logical security.

Visa has approved Research In Motion’s backend solution for secure mobile payments.

Specifically, RIM’s Secure Element Manager (SEM) solution for Near Field Communication mobile payments, its backend tool for carriers that, RIM said, securely manages credentials on SIM cards installed in all NFC enabled devices.
In Canada, Enstream, a joint venture of Canada’s three largest carriers (Bell, Rogers, TELUS), chose RIM’s SEM solution to enable the provisioning of handsets.

Visa’s approval signals to card issuers (e.g. financial institutions) that they can start provisioning customer’s smartphones via this solution.

NFC has been around for a while and while in 2011 was lauded the future of mobile payment, the momentum behind the system, which involves contactless transmission of data when two devices are in close proximity, has slumped recently.

Don’t we have Bluetooth, you may ask, particularly if you have been a eating blue iced lolly?  NFC uses less power than Bluetooth and doesn’t require pairing, hence its preference by manufacturers.

But there just aren’t enough NFC enabled smartphones around, with Apple leaving the technology out of the iPhone 5.  ICM analyst Jamie Belnikoff told What Mobile a major barrier to take up of the technology in 2013 would that smart phone users tended to be tied into long contracts and people wouldn’t break them just to get an NFC enabled device.

RIM NFC services and TSM product management senior director Frank Maduri said the approval from Visa would enable carriers to support Visa issuing banks and financial institutions.
“We now offer carriers a robust solution with around-the-clock global support that works on any NFC-capable device, and meets the stringent technology and usability guidelines for Visa.”

Informa Telecoms and Media principal analyst Andy Castonguay said gaining formal approval as secure element manager  was an important step in expanding its role as a security partner for mobile payment solutions globally.

“RIM’s secure network operations center provides a unique combination of global geographic reach, and has established trusted relationships with hundreds of carriers around the world with an unparalleled reputation for security, which sets RIM apart as an SEM partner in the growing mobile payments space.”

EnStream has deployed mobile payments in Canada uisng RIM’s SEM solution recently, RIM said.

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