Deutsche Telekom, German-based parent company of T-Mobile and other subsidiaries, announced at Mobile World Congress today a Near Field Communication (NFC) based payment system called “Mobile Wallet”. The payment system will first roll out to parts of Europe with T-Mobile USA launching the first offerings some time in 2011. Also spotted was a mention of Apple’s iPhone possibly supporting NFC.
Through the ISIS initiative, a joint venture with AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile USA, NFC payments will be made available in the US. In Europe, the Mobile Wallet service is planned to roll out to Germany and Poland in 2011, with The Netherlands, Czech Republic, and other countries to follow in 2012.
NFC payment systems rely on a low-powered transceiver located in the mobile device, which communicates with a similar low-powered transceiver in a second device. The specification calls for a maximum distance of 10cm to enable communication. Along with convenience, NFC brings security concerns as well: if your device is lost or stolen, the recipient would be able to authorize payments until it has been reported and shut down by the credit agency. The specification allows for fully encrypted connections, which payment systems such as Mobile Wallet utilize, reducing the risk of an attacker “sniffing” your credit information.
Endgadget adds that while Apple was not officially mentioned during the press conference, a reference to an iPhone supporting NFC was found in a presentation slide. Rumors that Apple may include an NFC chip in the iPhone have been circulating, but no official statement has been released by the company.