Nokia invests in contactless communications company

Nokia invested in Inside Contactless, a near-field communications technology developer.

Nokia continues to pursue the emerging near-field communications technology with an investment in Inside Contactless.

Nokia Growth Partners, the private equity and venture capital arm of Nokia, led a US$38 million round of investments in Inside Contactless, the fabless semiconductor company that makes contactless chip platforms. Nokia did not reveal how much of the investment it contributed.

The French company plans to use the investment to speed up its expansion into international markets and broaden its product portfolio. Its MicroPass technology is already in place in US shops including some McDonald's and 7-Eleven stores, as well as in Coca-Cola vending machines, New York City and Philadelphia taxi cabs, and major sporting venues including Fenway Park.

Users of a device equipped with a near-field communications (NFC) chip can wave the device near a reader to make a payment or other transaction. The chips can be used in credit cards or phones, which customers can use to pay for items in a store or debit an account to access public transportation, for example.

The investment follows one Nokia Growth Partners made in VivoTech, a Californian developer of near-field communications software and infrastructure.

Nokia has other NFC initiatives as well. It is the majority owner in Venyon, a joint venture company with Giesecke & Devrient, which is developing a service that banks and mobile operators can use to securely manage transactions made by cell phones with NFC technology.

Late last year, Nokia also announced that it was part of a trial in New York City with Citigroup, MasterCard and Cingular Wireless that lets users pay for items in certain shops using their NFC-equipped phones.

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