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Gemalto launches mobile coupons via NFC, banking services to meet consumer demand

February 18, 2010

Gemalto at work

Gemalto at work

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Gemalto announced several partnerships and new mobile commerce services, including mobile coupons via near field communication.

Gemalto has formed a partnership with HighCo to provide mobile coupons via NFC. MTN Middle-East and North Africa also selected the digital service provider to launch mobile financial services in five countries. The company also announced a new service that lets commuters use their mobile phones as etickets in MIFARE DESFire infrastructures.

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Chris Harnick interviewed Rémi De Fouchier, senior vice president of trusted services management at Gemalto, Paris, about the new services and what they mean for the mobile commerce ecosystem. Here is what he had to say:

What’s the strategy behind these new services?
Mobile phones have become an essential part of our daily life and our strategy is to broaden their usage. 

We achieve this by providing a complete solution including a service that links wireless carriers to their business partners, something we call Trusted Service Manager (TSM). 

Our first new service enables commuters to use their mobile phones as etickets in transit systems. Our second innovation provides user-friendly mobile coupon services to address an increasing demand from retailers and brands to be able to send coupons into subscriber’s mobile phones and then redeem them at the point-of-sale.

What challenges do they address?
The challenges are providing consumers with a convenient user-friendly way of collecting and redeeming coupons, and using their mobile phone as a transit ticket.

To achieve this, we had to overcome technical challenges at the mobile device level and get the applications into the SIM or UICC of the mobile phone, and then to make them work with other devices, like transit turnstiles or merchant terminals, using near field communications (NFC) technology, a contactless communications standard.

For mobile ticketing, Gemalto achieved a world’s first by putting a transit application on mobile phones that is compliant with the widely used DESFire specifications for contactless ticketing and NFC.  

The other challenge is enabling wireless carriers to download and activate these services in their mobile devices. That is made more complicated because it requires linking mobile operators with partners like transit systems for ticketing and retailers or consumer brands for ecouponing.

That’s where our TSM service comes in – it bridges these players to enable a seamless experience for the subscriber.

What is the target demographic?
All mobile phone users for ecouponing, and all transit riders in countries and cities where DESFire contactless ticketing technology is used—the United States, Britain, Spain, Turkey, Norway, Australia and many others.

What will these services do for mobile commerce?
These would be very welcome new capabilities that broadens the use of the consumer’s mobile handset. 

The potential for ecouponing is huge for ecommerce, and transit would be a very large eccommerce application where used. 

In addition, this is very complementary to our mobile contactless payment where consumers can use NFC phones to pay for goods and redeem coupons by simply presenting the phone on a contactless terminal, thus revolutionizing mobile commerce.
How will these be promoted?
For ecouponing, we will work with our partner HighCo, who produced six billion coupons last year and is excited by the opportunity to enhance the end-user experience by making ecoupons easier to store and use. 

Gemalto will leverage this experience to create additional partnerships in other regions.

As for transit, around 40 major cities in the world are relying on MIFARE DESFire technology for fare collection purpose in public transit. 

We will be working with all of the stakeholders, carriers, transit authorities and device manufacturers where DESFire technology is used—the United States, Britain, Spain, Turkey, Norway, Australia and many others—to promote mobile eticketing and bring this new convenience to transit riders.

What opportunities do these offerings present to consumers? To retailers?
For consumers, ecouponing partnership aims at providing a more convenient way of collecting and redeeming coupons from NFC phones, replacing conventional paper coupons.

Using an application in the mobile phone, users can easily connect to a couponing server, then select and download mobile coupons onto their handset over-the-air and then securely stored locally in the SIM card.

For retailers, mobile coupons are a powerful marketing tool in promoting the right product to the right audience, thereby boosting sales.

For transit riders, imagine the convenience of being able to use your mobile phone for ticketing, and to be able to easily buy more tickets from your phone. The transit operators will benefit from being able to extend the keyboard on the mobile device, and improve their services to their riders.

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Chirs Harnick is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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