Launching contactless payments? Make sure NFC devices meet these standards

Contactless payments (whereby a customer simply taps a card on a reader) are becoming the new norm – especially in public transport, where they make it convenient for passengers to ‘tap and pay’ fares for buses, trains, and ferries. Until now, most contactless payments systems have employed a rectangular plastic card, about the same size as a credit card. International standards are in place to describe how cards and terminals should work to ensure industrywide compatibility and provide security for the card user. One such standard, ISO/IEC 14443, outlines:

  • Size and physical characteristics of the identity card
  • Radio frequency and signal interface
  • Initialisation and anti-collision protocols
  • Data transmission protocol

Recently, the same near-field communication (NFC) technology that enables contactless cards has expanded into other form factors. In emerging markets, for example, customers are using adhesive stickers, dongles, fobs, and wearables to access mobile money stored on their phones. However, no international standards have been developed yet to govern these non-card form factors. To meet the need in the market, manufacturers need standards to ensure non-card devices are usable and secure for transactions. Youtap has successfully deployed contactless payments technology across Southeast Asia, the Pacific and Africa using a variety of form factors. Youtap’s technical experts recommend the following standards to guide the manufacture of non-card NFC devices:

  • The device should have a PVC layer for durability in variable conditions and climates.
  • The device should contain an anti-metallic layer.
  • The device should be at least 25mm in diameter (the greater the surface area, the better the communication between the NFC chip and the reader).
  • The device should include a printed serial number to speed the registration process

The standards above complement those outlined in the ISO/IEC standards and should used for all non-card NFC devices, whether the application is for transport or merchant payments. Transport companies and mobile operators that do not employ these standards may face compatibility issues or data transmission problems that delay implementation of contactless payments.

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