[Dave Birch] Contactless and RFID aren’t the only new local wireless interfaces out there that should be of interest to payment innovators. There’s ZigBee, for example. The ZigBee Alliance, a global collection of companies creating wireless solutions for use in energy, residential, commercial and industrial applications, has already announced its expansion into the telecommunications market with an initiative extending mobile networks while providing new capabilities for phone users. The new ZigBee Telecom Profile will feature secure mobile payment, information delivery, health care monitoring, peer-to-peer small data sharing and other location-based services and features. If you’re not familiar with it, ZigBee a suite of communication protocols that use small, low-power digital radios based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard for wireless personal area networks (WPANs). The technology is intended to be simpler and cheaper than other WPANs, such as Bluetooth. ZigBee is targeted at contactless applications that require a low data rate, long battery life, and secure networking: sensors in the home, for example.

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Some time ago, I saw a fascinating presentation from Telecom Italia Mobile concerning their experiment adding a ZigBee interface to a SIM card. This means that otherwise unmodified handsets can be integrated into their physical environment without waiting for NFC. They are using a SIM Toolkit application to access the ZigBee interface — which has been working up to five metres — to carry out payment and other transactions. Now, five meters might seem rather a long range for an EMV transaction, but for vicinity payment applications such as road tolling or bus riding it might work rather well: no actual transaction takes place over the air interface, it’s just the presence of the device that triggers a transaction in the back end somewhere.

These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

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