Bell ID recently launched its Secure Element in the Cloud solution, which positions the secure element in a remote and hosted environment rather than inside the mobile device. This offers direct access to application issuers and eases the launch and use of near field communication (NFC) based mobile services.
As an enabling technology, it can also specifically support mobile network operators (MNOs) – or ‘carriers’ in the US – in the efficient delivery of NFC-enabled services to consumers. But which specific key benefits can Secure Element in the Cloud offer to MNOs and how does this technology fit with their business models?
1. Save on the reissuance of SIM cards
By utilizing Secure Element in the Cloud, MNOs can roll-out NFC services to consumers immediately (provided the handset is NFC enabled) without the need to invest in issuing updated SIMs containing a secure element or invest in additional infrastructure. Existing SIMs already offer the capability required to authenticate a user. MNOs do not immediately need to commit resource to rolling out millions of updated cards specifically for NFC services. This eases gradual introduction of NFC services to a large audience.
MNOs already committed to NFC SIM cards and an upgraded infrastructure can leverage Secure Element in the Cloud to offer service providers (SPs) the widest range of options for NFC deployment across all major operating systems (Android, BlackBerry, Windows etc.).
As Host Card Emulation is currently only supported by the BlackBerry operating system (OS), SPs without access to an NFC SIM will only be able to offer services to BlackBerry users (for the time being). By leveraging an NFC SIM combined with Secure Element in the Cloud, SPs will have the option to offer services to users of any mobile OS.
2. Provide stronger authentication
Sitting at the center of the mobile ecosystem, MNOs play a pivotal role as the direct channel to the consumer. As the owner of the SIM card, they can provide an additional strong authentication mechanism, a function which is invaluable for the authentication of transactions.
The increased coverage, speed and capability of MNO’s ever expanding networks integrate perfectly with the improved processing power of Secure Element in the Cloud. These are complementary technologies which will increase transaction security, speeds and network availability.
3. Support a wider service portfolio
Hosting the functionality of the secure element remotely expands storage capacity and processing power. This delivers much needed flexibility in launching and managing mobile services.
While work is on-going to increase the capabilities of physical secure elements, remote hosting offers a more refined solution as many more SP applications can be supported and the increased processing power decreases the amount of time taken to provision the app (and its credentials), and execute transactions. The potential to have more applications hosted in the cloud, in combination with using the SIM for strong authentication, confirms the position of the MNO as the important authentication authority for mobile devices, increasing revenue generating potential for NFC services for MNOs.
4. Be future proof
Secure Element in the Cloud is adaptable to future technology developments. Updates and service launches are made much easier, cheaper and quicker without the need to upgrade hardware. Secure Element in the Cloud also makes the bundling of services such as loyalty and couponing more effective. MNOs can work with SPs to leverage existing real time consumer context information to add value to mobile financial services.
5. Enable flexible and scalable business models
Secure Element in the Cloud offers a simple and strong business model to MNOs. Extended capacity offers the option for additional services to be hosted, expanding revenue generating capacity. Also, the non-physical nature of the technology requires reduced integration work, allowing the MNO to efficiently adapt to different business models. MNOs can offer packages to SPs active in specific industries (e.g. financial) which prioritize their application’s network requests, enabling quicker processing times for key services.
Secure Element in the Cloud is therefore not side-lining MNOs, but offering them innovative technology to immediately expand their capabilities, offering and revenues in the NFC industry. The solution offers a new strong and flexible form factor of the secure element in order to support the industry’s drive towards full-scale NFC deployments. It is likely that multiple secure element form factors will coexist to support all different NFC service use cases. The ease of deployment will assist in driving NFC technology to mass market by reducing logistical and marketing challenges.