The European Commission has taken a keen interest in mobile applications. At a time when contactless payments and other mobile services are on the rise, Brussels has decided to financially back the StoLPan (Store Logistics and Pay
ment with NFC) project as part of the European Information Society Technologies (IST) program. StoLPan is run by companies, universities, and European user groups and focuses on Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. The consortium's partners include manufacturers such as Motorola, Bull, Sun, and NPX Semiconductors; banks such as Banca Popolare di Vicenza; and universities, including in Budapest, Hungary. It aims to develop an open architecture for the development and deployment of NFC applications on mobile devices. Manufacturers and operators are keenly interested in NFC technology, which enables contactless data exchange. It opens up all kinds of new possibilities for mobile services. Some systems already exist, like contactless payment (currently being tested in Strasbourg, France by NRJ Mobile and CIC-Crédit Mutuel), and using a mobile device as a transportation pass (available on public transportation in Rome, Italy and being introduced in France in 2008 with the Pass Navigo). The convergence of mobile phones and NFC technology, unveiled in the Nokia 6131 NFC during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, should also engender other possibilities like using a cell phone as an ID badge during trade shows and conferences, and sharing information. However, there are still several issues to overcome before this technology can actually be deployed. From a technical standpoint, compatibility problems have to be resolved. Then there's security: A recent study urges market players to develop effective security systems to protect these new applications from piracy. In response to these issues, StoLPaN will develop an “NFC ecosystem” in order to define and address these various hindrances and accelerate large-scale marketing of mobile devices with contactless applications. An initial report is planned for summer 2007 as part of a program to be completed by 2009. In France, banking sector players such as Mutual CIC-Crédit and telecoms such as Orange, Bouygues, and SFR pooled resources in November 2006 to develop and test a contactless payment solution. There's strength in numbers!