The key to ensure NFC interoperability between NFC mobile devices and public transport readers
Over the last 10 years, ticketing services in the public transport sector using NFC technology have become more and more popular. Using the smartphone to access public transport services brought together two industries with NFC standards which were not fully compatible. This has led to interoperability problems between mobile phones and contactless ticket readers. To combat these diverging tendencies, it is essential that all involved standardization bodies align their technical standards.
Two Industries – Two Different Standards
Contactless smart card ticket readers deployed by the public transport industry are based on the contactless standards ISO/IEC 14443 and 18092. However, the majority of existing mobile devices on the market were designed and tested against NFC Forum specifications. Although the specifications by NFC Forum were based on the ISO standards, they showed slight deviations, especially within the analog specification. Due to technical differences between NFC Forum Analog and ISO/IEC 14443 specifications, it was not possible to ensure full interoperability between the NFC Forum-compliant mobile devices and the contactless ISO readers installed in the transport industry. That led to a poor user experience and consequently to a weak acceptance. A user who has tried to use eTicketing by mobile phone and has failed for a couple of times will never try again.
The Approach: Ensuring Interoperability by Defining One Binding Standard
Since there is no certification program by ISO, the GSMA and NFC Forum negotiated if and how an alignment could be reached. In order to establish future NFC interoperability between mobile devices and transport infrastructure, the GSMA initiated a series of “NFC Transport Workshops” in 2014. The NFC Forum and the transport industry (CEN, ISO, STA, and Public Transport Associations) worked together to find a common standard for the NFC analog requirements and testing procedures.
First Achievements – Aligning ISO and NFC Forum Standards
As a result, NFC mobile devices which are designed and tested according to the new V2.0 NFC Forum Analog specification can be used as a platform for fare media and card reader systems according to ISO/IEC14443, ISO/IEC18092 (FeliCa).
The final goal of the ongoing work is to further improve the worldwide public transport sector so that passengers can quickly and easily board while fare collection and access work seamlessly and are handled accurately. Once finalized, NFC is the perfect key technology to deliver a smooth and positive user experience regardless of the country and the transport system.
Claus André Madsen, Business Development Manager
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