Laurent Sourgen, Officer and Board Member of the NFC Forum Presented Keynote Address

Berlin, Germany, in the heart of Western Europe, was the site of the world’s largest global RF interoperability demonstration between public transport fare management infrastructures and NFC mobile devices including public transport applications and terminals from around the world on September 1, 2016.

The goal of this industry effort was to promote industry cooperation toward the objective of being able to use an NFC-enabled smartphone for public transportation payment and access anywhere in the world by supporting the alignment of current technology standards.  The event achieved this goal by demonstrating RF interoperability allowing any public transport application to be hosted by any NFC Forum mobile device. The RF interoperability event was hosted by the German Government’s Federal Ministry of Economy Affairs and Energy and was coordinated by the German OPTIMOS Project in cooperation with GSMA and the NFC Forum.

For the latest update on Mobility, Identity and Transport (MIT) Special Interest Group (SIG) progress and to learn how to get ready for mobile public transport (PT) services, Download the How NFC Delivers RF Interoperability with PT Infrastructures flyer.

The NFC Forum has a long-standing role of taking the lead in NFC initiatives like this and the event in Berlin was one of its most ambitious endeavors yet. The multi-country, multi-device, multi-technology public transport RF interoperability demonstration used a variety of NFC-enabled smartphones for testing with public transport applications and terminals from France, Japan, Spain and Germany combined with public transport system technologies such as Calypso, FeliCa, MIFARE and VDV KA.


“Introduction to the Interoperability Initiative” Keynote Presentation By Laurent Sourgen

The variety of different public transport systems in place worldwide is staggering. Each country or even each city establishes different requirements for their public transport system. Services and business cases are typically optimized for local, frequent users and local rules. According to Sourgen, interoperability is the key to allow public transport operators to deliver a more seamless, convenient, positive customer experience. Even a minuscule amount of interoperability issues are magnified by the typical Public Transport Operator’s size and daily service volume potentially creating thousands of disappointed customers every day. In his presentation Sourgen stated that the key to mitigating this complex technical and business problem is to establish RF interoperability between the mobile sector and the public transport sector by doing the following:

  • Synchronize RF-interface specifications for NFC mobile devices and Public Transport devices
  • Establish synchronized test and certification processes for NFC mobile devices and Public Transport devices

This harmonization of specifications between NFC mobile devices and ISO-conformant PT equipment aligned with EMVCo requirements is necessary to achieve the goal of interoperability. Equally important, according to Sourgen, is increasing the synchronized testing and certification of NFC mobile devices and Public Transport equipment by the appropriate organization. These steps will result in the reduction of Public Transport infrastructure changes, the elimination of regional testing or adaption of mobile handsets and, eventually, the ability for all certified NFC-enabled mobile devices to work with Public Transport systems. The time is right according to Sourgen. Public Transport infrastructures and NFC devices are both mature and tested enough for field deployment today.

Interoperability Framework

To achieve these interoperability objectives it requires continuous cooperation between relevant standardization bodies. The NFC Forum has taken the lead and established working relationships with ITSO, APTA, Smart Ticketing Alliance, East Japan Railway Company, eTicket Service, CEN and GSMA. To date, the most significant achievement was the joint development and completion with GSMA, CEN and Public Transport companies of the technical work on interoperability with ISO/IEC14443. Moving forward into 2017, Sourgen explained during his presentation that harmonization of relevant specifications via NFC Forum liaisons will continue. These specifications include:

  • ISO/IEC14443
  • CEN TS16794
  • EMVCo L1
  • ISO/IEC 18092
  • ISO NWI 20527

Also in 2017 a second Optimos interoperability event is planned as well as the continuation of certification of NFC and public transport devices.