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Host Card Emulation

Increasing flexibility and reducing cost of implementation by eliminating a discrete Secure Element (SE), Rambus Host Card Emulation, including technology from Bell ID, provisions a payment card on a mobile device leveraging cloud-based software and the mobile operating system to enable a “virtual” SE.


Product Brief

How Host Card Emulation works

Mobile payment credentials have traditionally been stored in a smartphone hardware component known as the secure element (SE). However, the physical presence of an SE in the device creates dependencies and complexities that make it difficult and expensive for a card issuer to load cards on the smartphone of their customers.

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Watch Secure Element in the Cloud

Host Card Emulation – NFC’s Missing Link

Near field communication (NFC) technology and mobile wallets have traditionally stored all the data needed to complete a transaction on a physical secure element (SE) within a mobile device. HCE allows NFC-based transactions to be performed by mobile devices without needing to connect to the SE, enabling service providers to sidestep the integration and commercial deployment challenges associated with the SE model. This eBook will explore how HCE can help service providers overcome these challenges when implementing NFC services, and discuss the benefits of HCE over ‘traditional’ NFC SE implementations.

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Host card emulation overview diagram

The Rambus HCE Solution Overview

The Rambus HCE software enables mobile NFC transactions to be made by storing and accessing credentials in a remote environment rather than on the mobile device. By moving the SE to the remote environment of the cloud, the cost and complexity of managing a physical SE can be reduced significantly.

Part of a modular software platform, our HCE solutions can be combined with our Tokenization and Transaction Managers to enhance the security of the implementation and enable our customers to become their own Token Service Provider.


  • A mobile payment SDK to integrate payment cards via HCE into your own app
  • Certified by all major payment schemes
  • Fully compatible with EMV based contactless NFC readers and POS terminals for domestic and international payment schemes and PCI-DSS
  • Transactions can be made even when the device is not online by preloading payment credentials
  • Advanced tokenization where the original card numbers are replaced by alternative numbers
  • Access to white box cryptography algorithms
  • Transaction management for the use of virtual cards with no impact to the issuer’s legacy systems

Host Card Emulation –
Cloud-based Mobile Payments

Using NFC technology to make financial transactions with a smartphone is considered as a breakthrough in the payments industry. The actual implementation has, however, been challenging and costly. This is because the management of customer credentials on a mobile device has proven to be complex. By moving the SE to a remote environment, these complexities and associated costs are bypassed because card issuers can directly provision their virtual cards to a cloud-based SE without any third parties. With this model, a card issuer is no longer dependent on the mobile device SE owner for storing credentials.

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