At First Data, we’re working hard to help make Near-Field Communications (NFC)-enabled mobile commerce a reality. Many companies across the payments industry share the vision of an NFC future for commerce and activity in this space seems to be accelerating.

Why are we so excited about NFC? Because an NFC platform on a mobile handset opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Combining the power of the mobile network and the mobile handset with the ability to exchange information at short range in the physical world creates endless possibilities.

What could you do with your mobile phone?
Think about touching your phone to a point-of-sale terminal to buy a cup of coffee with your debit card. Touch your mobile phone to your babysitter’s mobile phone to pay her, instead of fumbling for cash. You could use your mobile phone at the front desk of a hotel at check-in to download your room key and then touch your phone to the hotel room door to unlock it. Or imagine touching your mobile phone to a reader at your doctor’s office to have the information from your latest visit downloaded to the medical file on your phone.

There are all kinds of cool applications just waiting to be invented once the mobile NFC platform gains widespread adoption.

Our place in the NFC landscape
Our business is payments, so for now we’re focused on NFC-enabled mobile payments. Most people understand the concept of a mobile wallet with various accounts that can be used for payment at the point of sale. What most people don’t understand is the tremendous complexity involved in making it work.

Connecting to a payment card issuing system to retrieve account information and then delivering the account information to a mobile handset—with security in mind at every step of the way—is not for the feint of heart. Now think about this relatively simple transaction in an ecosystem where you have relationships with many different merchants and financial institutions and you can imagine how quickly it gets complicated.

Trusted service management
What happens if you lose your mobile phone that had credit and debit card accounts from two different banks and prepaid accounts from three different merchants? Who do you call for help? Who can help sort it out?

The answer is First Data.

We’re launching a new trusted service management business to provide exactly these kinds of services. As a trusted service manager, we’ll provide the technical platform and supporting business services that enable secure over-the-air provisioning of commerce-related applications to secure elements on mobile handsets. And we’ll manage the lifecycle of these applications once provisioned.

In this role, we’re helping to negotiate the complex many-to-many relationships between mobile carriers and commerce service providers and their shared customers.

You wouldn’t want to live without it
I think of trusted service manager as the plumbing that enables the NFC ecosystem. With trusted service manager, we’ll manage the complex infrastructure that allows mobile carriers, banks, merchants and others to focus their time and effort on developing the cool new NFC applications you won’t want to live without.

Plumbing may not sound exciting, but we’re thrilled to be in the middle of the NFC ecosystem. I’ll have more in future posts about trusted service management and how we’re making it easy for you to reach the NFC future.