Getting a new project off the ground is always more challenging than keeping a project already advancing moving forward. This truism is explained by the laws of physics — and business.

That’s why I’m happy to report that the recently announced Public Transportation Alliance is off to a strong start and has already completed its first major objective in less than a year.

Ten months ago, we established an alliance between the NFC Forum, GSMA, Smart Ticketing Alliance and CEN TC278 to focus on NFC technology for the public transportation industry. Today, I’m pleased to report that the alliance has agreed on the technical interoperability solutions to ensure NFC mobile devices support contactless communications with all relevant system infrastructures and global public transportation sectors. A joint statement from GSMA, Smart Ticketing Alliance and the NFC Forum, along with a joint positioning paper titled “Interoperability of NFC Mobile Devices,” were published and are available to the public.

NFC-bus payment

The alliance’s goal was to define a common understanding of the technical interoperability requirements of the public transport operators (PTOs) with the aim of standardizing interoperability between NFC mobile devices’ contactless interface and globally relevant public transport readers and media. What this means is that thousands of PTOs around the world can soon confidently begin building and deploying systems to support potentially hundreds of millions of passengers using NFC technology fare media.  For passengers it means that, in the not too distant future, authentication and fare payment will be a standardized, ubiquitous “touch and go” with their mobile NFC-enabled devices at almost any public transportation system in any country.

Generic NFC mobile devices which are designed, tested and certified according to NFC Forum specifications can be used as a platform for fare media and card reader systems according to ISO/IEC14443, ISO/IEC18092 (FeliCa) and with NFC tags. These solutions allow coexistence with EMVCo L1 specifications and testing on the same NFC mobile device.

Moving Forward

The agreed interoperability solutions will be added to the NFC Forum’s design and testing specifications for NFC mobile devices and referenced by GSMA. It is also proposed that they be included in the Global Certification Forum (GCF) device certification scheme. Simultaneously, the Public Transport industry will ensure that their readers and cards match new NFC handset specifications. JR East, Smart Ticketing Alliance and American Public Transportation Association (APTA) provided industry-specific contributions to a matching testing and certification plan for public Transportation components as well.

For More Information

The NFC Forum will continue our collaboration with the alliance partners and PTOs. If you would like more information about this effort, please contact the Mobility, Identity and Transport (MIT) Special Interest Group (SIG)
leadership, Dr. Joerg Schmidt or Cord Bartels at [email protected].

Dr. Joerg Schmidt and Cord Bartels are Co-Chairs, NFC Forum Transport Special Interest Group