Bridging the gap between QR mobile payments and NFC devices

The NFC Forum has released a new ‘candidate’ specification that makes it easy for mobile payments services based on QR codes to add NFC functionality, giving “payment service providers and consumers the opportunity to take advantage of the simple and secure NFC-based payment solutions already in use worldwide.”

The NFC Money Transfer Candidate Specification (NMT) provides a way to embed QR code data in a standard NDEF record, opening up the possibility for an NFC phone to be used to read an NDEF version of a merchant’s static QR code embedded in a simple NFC sticker — and even, eventually, for a QR payment service to be supported on standard contactless POS devices.

Because the new NMT specification is based around NDEF messages, which are supported by Apple, both Android and iOS device owners are expected to be able to make use of NMT services.

“The NFC Money Transfer Specification provides an open platform similar to that described by the Connection Handover Specification for pairing of Bluetooth and WiFi devices,” Juergen Boehler, chair of the NFC Forum technical committee, explains. “ I am convinced that the NMT has the same potential to simplify payment transactions like NFC did for pairing of Bluetooth and WiFi,” he adds.

NMT “enables the transfer of money either between two persons or between a person and a merchant,” said STMicroelectronics’ Daniel Orsatti . “The idea is to have a very simple way to do it by just using an app. The starting point was to define an NFC solution able to replace existing QR code solutions in Asia which require additional actions from the user to pre-select the right payment app and then to activate and place the camera in the correct position.”

“It quickly became apparent that there was an even greater need for an NFC solution. We have enlarged the specification’s scope to not only cover Asia but to offer a generic framework covering payment systems,” Orsatti confirms. “Today, many payment systems in the market allow you to pay with QR code solutions, especially small amounts,” Orsatti says. “These payment solutions can be easily replaced by NMT as the same data exchange can be implemented with NFC communication.”

“Using NFC smartphones, millions of consumers around the world pay merchants quickly, conveniently, and safely,” adds Matthew Bright, chair of the NFC Forum’s Retail & Payment SIG.

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