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First Data turns phones into contactless payment devices

March 19, 2010

contactless-paymentsFirst Data will deliver mobile payments via a MicroSD-based technology that turns phones into contactless payment devices.

The company teamed up with Tyfone’s to provide SideTap micro secure digital memory cards. According to First Data, it essentially lets the card work like a mobile wallet.

“Over 60 percent of the mobile phones being sold today are equipped with memory slots, making it an ideal form factor for retailers and issuers to provision both their payment accounts as well as other content,” said Dom Morea, division manager of First Data mobile commerce solutions, Atlanta, GA.

“The MicroSD will support a number of different payment use cases,” he said. “While the technology may first be released for the U.S. market, it has worldwide appeal and is not restricted by geography.”

Contactless technology
To use the technology, consumers can insert the card into the memory slot of their phone, activate the card with an application or a web interface and tap the side of their phone on a contactless reader when making a purchase. 

Additonally consumers can add new payment and identity options, creating a mobile wallet that is as flexible as the card provider would like it to be.

According to the company, an embedded SmartMX security chip is safeguarding all transactions operated on the MicroSD card.

“The Tyfone SideTap MicroSD card uses NXP’s SmartMX smartcard chip as the secure element,” Mr. Morea said. “All secure information is stored in the secure element and OTA access is encrypted end-to-end.

“Such smartcard chips are employed by institutions including the U.S. Department of Defense to store information securely,” he said. “Consumer use of the SideTap MicroSD for payment transactions will follow the existing paths and security protocols in place currently and already certified for financial transactions.”

Mobile payments
The Sidetap card can retain memory card functions so consumers can continue to use the card as they normally would.

Users can store photos, videos, music, documents or other files.

According to the company, analysts forecast contactless payment transactions via MicroSD technology will be used by more than 20 million people in the U.S. over the next two or three years.

“For a consumer, a SideTap MicroSD card is expected to cost about the same as that of a standard MicroSD card of the same capacity,” Mr. Morea said. “We expect that these cards will be sold in places where consumers buy memory cards today including retail merchants and major network operators as well as new locations such as mass transit kiosks and financial institution branch locations.

“SideTap MicroSD cards may also come pre-bundled in handsets or provided to consumers free of charge or as part of a larger product bundle by Financial Institutions and/or major retailers,” he said.

“First Data is in the process of developing another exciting new mobile commerce technology. We will have more details to share on this product in the coming weeks.”

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Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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