Multi-application MIFARE smartcards make it possible to do lots of things with a single card. The Rabbit card in Bangkok, for example, lets people pay for transport, access their offices, and participate in retail loyalty programs. And the Mobilis card, in Valencia, Spain, lets you use one card for transport, bike rentals, tourism programs, and identification.
Now there’s a way to extend the reach of multi-application smartcards. Think of it as a smarter smartcard – otherwise known as your phone. Any smartphone equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) is already compatible with the existing MIFARE infrastructure, so it can be used with any multi-application MIFARE system that’s already in place. Simply tap your NFC-enabled smartcard against the MIFARE reader, the same way you would tap your multi-application smartcard against the reader, and you’re done. Ride the bus, enter a museum, pass through the security checkpoint at work, or present your health card – it’s all possible with your phone.
Giving an NFC-enabled phone the ability to behave as a multi-application MIFARE smartcard is made easier with a new programming interface, called MIFARE4Mobile. It’s a single, interoperable programming interface that helps mobile network operators, trusted service managers, and service providers manage MIFARE-based services on NFC mobile devices. The interface is under the domain of the MIFARE4Mobile Industry Group, which is made up of leading players in the NFC ecosystem, including Gemalto, Giesecke & Devrient, NXP, Oberthur Technologies, and STMicroelectronics.With MIFARE4Mobile, you can remotely provision and manage MIFARE-based services in the embedded secure elements and SIM cards of mobile devices. MIFARE4Mobile supports Over-The-Air (OTA) updates, so services providers can access MIFARE resources in a secure element in a trusted and consistent way. It also renders card content on the phone screen in a convenient and flexible way, for a consistent user experience, and provides full interoperability with other card formats.
Extending a multi-application service to include NFC-enabled smartphones lets you add app-based interactions and services. The app can provide access to extra information, like daily deals and members-only offers, or more services, like topping up a transport card or spending loyalty points. Having a user interface also makes it easier to configure preferences, update information, or respond to offers, for a more personal, more interactive experience. Using the phone, instead of a card, is a greener solution, too, since it saves on the cost and waste of issuing individual cards.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of adding smartphones to a multi-application MIFARE set-up. First, to take variations into account, be sure to specify each handset model and Operating System (OS) version you’re going to support. It’s important to do more than just replicate the key function, since offering value-added features is more likely to draw people to the new service. As always, a well-executed promotional campaign can help drive acceptance and maximize investment.
MIFARE and MIFARE4Mobile are registered trademarks of NXP Semiconductors N.V.