Nokia puts mobile wallet on SIM card

Will make it easier for operators to launch services, Nokia says

The new Nokia 6216 classic handset, announced Thursday, incorporates support for NFC (Near Field Communication) technology on the SIM card, paving the way for operators to more easily deploy mobile-payment systems.

NFC is a wireless communication technology with a range of a few inches, and it is considered easy to use and quick to set up. It lets users, for example, pay for goods by simply waving their NFC-enabled handset in front of a contactless reader.

The 6216 classic is Nokia's third mobile phone with integrated NFC support, but the first that puts the secure element of the technology -- which, for example, can be used to store credit-card information -- on the SIM card, according to Jeremy Belostock, head of near field communications at Nokia.

The secure element has on existing NFC-enabled Nokia phones been stored on the phone itself. Moving it to the SIM card is something operators have wished for, because it makes it easier for them to roll out services, according to Belostock. For end users it means they can switch phones, and bring their mobile wallet with them, he said.

The 6216 classic is expected to start shipping in the third quarter of 2009 in selected parts of Europe and Asia. It will cost about EUR150 (US$195 ) before taxes and subsidies, according to Nokia.

The use of the NFC has slowly started to take off. Earlier this month Malaysian operator Maxis -- working with Visa, Nokia and Maybank -- started offering mobile payments, and more operators are on the way, according to Belostock.

Nokia is still the only mobile phone vendor pushing the technology. More choice is needed for the technology to take off, and that will start to arrive next year, according to Belostock. Currently, slow sales of mobile phones are holding the technology back, he said.

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