Inside Secure opens door for multiple wallets on one smartphone

Phone makers, mobile network operators and others can now share a secure element on a device

Inside Secure's VaultSecure allows multiple digital wallets and other applications to coexist on one smartphone, and will help transform the mobile commerce market, the company said on Monday.

For the first time, smartphone makers, mobile network operators and others can share a secure element on a smartphone and install, personalize and administer their own payment, access control, transit and loyalty applications, according to Inside Secure.

The secure element uses encryption, memory and a microprocessor to provide a place for storing a variety of applications and data, including credit card and identity information.

Today's NFC market is becoming increasingly fragmented. For example, in the U.S, Google, the carrier-led Isis consortium and newly formed Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), whose members include retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart, Target and 7-Eleven, all want to provide mobile wallets using NFC.

"On SecureVault they could all coexist, and they wouldn't have to rely on each other and have access to their own piece," said Bernard Vian, executive vice president in charge of Inside Secure's payment solutions.

Inside Secure intends to sell VaultSecure to the phone makers, which in turn have to work with the different NFC camps, according to Vian.

VaultSecure also includes a technology called Secure Memory Swap that allows less frequently used applications to be encrypted and securely stored on the smartphone's regular memory, as opposed to the secure element's more expensive storage space, according to Inside Secure.

The applications can then be moved back to the secure element memory when needed based on a number of factors, including location or time.

For example, when traveling from New York to Paris, the MTA transit fare application on a user's smartphone secure element can automatically be swapped for the Paris Metro. Also, a building access application can be swapped out for something else on weekends and holidays, Inside Secure said.

Having the technology is one thing, but getting multiple mobile wallets and applications on the same device will be more about politics than anything else, according to Nick Holland, principal analyst at Yankee Group.

Today, the mobile payment industry is fighting an uphill battle with low consumer awareness and a lack of retail penetration.

"At a recent event in New York, the Isis representative was pointing to the fact it is expecting 85 percent of point-of-sales terminals to be NFC capable by 2016 or 2017. ... The market is not going to wait that long, and, frankly, I'd be surprised if their investors will, as well," said Holland.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Tags mobile applicationstelecommunicationCarriersInside Securemobile

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