There were a lot of rumors around iPhone’s new version iPhone 4 that it would come with an NFC chip, but unfortunately it didn’t. It’d be a huge step for the contactless space, and could also be a huge step for a proprietary system fully controlled by Apple.
Now we will wait for iPhone 5.
With the latest news that Giesecke & Devrient, Gemalto and ARM have come together for an embedded secure element for mobile devices, this seems much more likely now.
But wait, if you really want to see iPhone in action for contactless payment, you are in luck. Wireless Dynamics has a great solution for that: iCarte.
Luckily, I am part of an iCarte project here in Turkey. Yapi Kredi Bank (my employer) and Visa deployed this iCarte project. Wireless Dynamics is the hardware and software provider while G&D is the TSM for personalization. Inside, the smartcard within the iCarte, Visa Mobile Payment Application is running. And Visa Mobile Gateway is used for lifecycle scripting.
iCarte is basically an integrated smart card and antenna attached to the iPhone. Both the iPhone 3 and 4 are supported. The hardware and software are both developed by Wireless Dynamics. And iCarte has a great app that enables the payment.
First, you need to personalize/activate the smart card embedded in the iCarte. In order to do that, you must have a credit card from Yapi Kredi. The contactless credit card inside the iCarte is a supplementary card to your main Visa account. The application is processed from internet banking of Yapi Kredi.
After that, you need to verify yourself to the smart card with your PIN (passcode in Visa’s terminology) which you generate during the application. If you are the person that Yapi Kredi has authorized (Yapi Kredi is the issuer in this case) you are good to go with your iPhone for contactless payments.
Visa Mobile Payment Application (VMPA) is an EMV-based mobile solution from Visa. It is developed on top of Visa’s contactless application. Since Turkey is an EMV country, iCarte runs an EMV application. Both offline and online transactions are supported, however, the current implementation is an online-only profile.
When you first start the app, the hardware is checked and the connection is established. After a successful start-up, you need to activate the application. This means you must personalize the Visa Mobile Payment Application
Now you are ready to go.
With the iCarte, you can also save personal details of the transaction. ICarte, like other mobile payment solutions, is more secure than other contactless payment media. You can choose to enter your PIN before processing a transaction. This is optional, as you can do this once and let the application process the payment without any verification.
I think it is the most usable (and practically the only) solution for the moment for contactless payment with iPhone.
Burak Ilgicioglu works for Yapi Kredi Bank, Turkey as the Credit&Debit Cards Business Analysis Manager. He has been working in the card payments industry for 18 years. He is involved in many contactless & NFC projects.