NFC (Near Field Communication) technology has a lot of potential. We’ve so far seen it used for automated payment systems using  mobile phones or credit cards with NFC chips, and, on a more basic level, for sharing content across devices. But let’s be honest, use of the NFC technology has failed to match up to expectations.

To date, we’ve seen NFC chips used as a part of device hardware introduced by manufacturers, but Orange France has decided to go a completely different route. To ensure large-scale availability of the NFC feature, Orange will be rolling out NFC SIM cards across France, and will cover all of its 27 million subscribers. With the rollout, Orange is hoping to implement a NFC infrastructure on a national level, which will allow vendors and service providers to use contactless mobile services on a wide scale.

The UpTeq NFC high-end SIM, created by Gemalto, is the first NFC SIM that boasts the same level of security expected from a smart card and other chip-based payment systems. With this level of security, Orange will offer banks, transport operators, or retailers a secure and scalable solution that will in turn, help them offer new and enhanced services to consumers.

All new post-paid Orange customers will receive the new SIM, with current customers having to request it from the network provider. The only catch is that, to use the full features of the NFC SIM, you will need to use a device which is already NFC-capable, which, for now, generally means a pretty high-end device. How much of the infrastructure is already in place, for this “project” to be a success is debatable, but with the “forced” adoption already beginning, solutions for current issues should also eventually fall into place.

What are your thoughts? Do you think there is an advantage in using a NFC SIM? Will contactless payment systems ever become the norm? Let us know in the comments section below.


Orange Launches Nationwide Deployment of NFC SIM Cards with Gemalto Solution in France
Paris and Amsterdam, Thursday 28 June 2012

UpTeq NFC high-end SIM to enable NFC-readiness for mass deployment of mobile contactless services

Orange, France’s leading mobile operator with over 27 million subscribers, and Gemalto (Euronext NL0000400653 GTO), the world leader in digital security, announce the first large-scale rollout of a SIM-based NFC solution to enable NFC-readiness for mass deployment of mobile contactless services. Orange is the first operator in Europe to deploy latest-generation NFC SIM cards to its customers in France at a national scale.

With this deployment, Orange is pursuing the implementation of a NFC infrastructure on a national level that enables service providers to come onboard and massively deploy mobile contactless services.

The UpTeq NFC high-end SIM is first on the market to offer the same security level as chip-based payment or smart cards. Orange can offer service providers such as banks, transport operators or retailers an attractive, secure and scalable solution to deploy new and enhanced services to end users. The solution will allow any service provider to dynamically manage its own security domain in the card and to load, personalize and update its related NFC applications remotely over time.

Service providers will be offered a secure space on the SIM card, to manage and update their end customers’ personal data, as within a vault. Orange subscribers will be able to download, activate and use NFC services on their phone and in an entirely protected environment. They will be able to access an easily expandable wallet of new NFC applications for payments, transportation, ticketing and loyalty programs.

“Gemalto is the first supplier we’re working with for the deployment of NFC SIM cards at a national level,” said Thierry Millet Vice President of Mobile Payments & NFC at Orange. “Gemalto’s NFC solution is fully in line with our strategy to simplify and secure the use of mobile contactless services. We are committed to equipping our customers with NFC SIM cards and handsets. We are delighted to achieve a new landmark with this nationwide rollout towards our subscribers in France.”

“Orange is leading the way in NFC roll out in France and in Europe. The UpTeq NFC solution meets Orange’s qualifications at both national and group levels and our teams are on hand to support and accompany the mobile operator in its NFC strategy,” added Philippe Vallée, Executive Vice President of Telecommunications at Gemalto.