NFC news in brief • 17 May 2011

News in brief from the NFC world and beyond: US files lawsuit against Verifone/Hypercom deal • iPhone 5 unlikely to support NFC payments, says analyst • ‘Paper’ phone unveiled • Vivotech adds NFC to mag stripe terminals • Hashable adds NFC to contacts app • Sequent raises funds • Connecthings invests in Lifera • and more…

US files lawsuit against Verifone/Hypercom deal: The US Department of Justice has filed a civil antitrust lawsuit to block VeriFone from buying Hypercom, saying the proposed deal would hurt competition in the market for point-of-sale terminals in the US. As part of the deal Verifone had agreed an immediate sale of Hypercom’s US business to French terminal maker Ingenico, but the DoJ says the move does not adequately resolve their competitive concerns. Meanwhile, Vivotech has renewed its approach to Verifone to buy Hypercom’s US business, with Vivotech CEO Michael Mullagh saying he hoped the firm’s offer would provide a path to resolve Justice Department concerns.

iPhone 5 unlikely to support NFC payments, says analyst: Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi has said he believes Apple will forgo supporting NFC on its iOS devices until consumer adoption is certain and it has reached a critical mass with merchants. “We do not expect the iPhone 5 to feature an NFC-based payments solution, and instead expect Apple will evaluate and come to market with partners or a complete solution later, perhaps when NFC infrastructure is more established,” he said.

Paper phone
PAPER PHONE: Researchers in Canada have shown off a flexible mobile phone

‘Paper’ phone unveiled: Researchers in Canada have shown off a prototype “paper phone”. The team from Queen’s University Human Media Lab have produced a paper-thin computer, which users will bend and flex to input commands. The device uses a technology described as “a flexible version of e-ink”, the low-power digital ink screen found in e-readers such as the Kindle.

Oberthur looking to sell 60% of its smartcard business? French smartcard and security technologies group Oberthur Technologies is looking to sell a 60% share of its smartcard business, valued at €1bn, according to anonymous sources speaking to Les Echos. Oberthur will contact potential investors next week, with a first round expected in the first half of June. If the sale goes ahead, the company will hold a minority stake but its partner will be a financial rather than an industrial one, so it will retain a high level of operational control. Oberthur would not comment on the story.

Vivotech adds NFC to mag stripe terminals: NFC specialist Vivotech has introduced an add-on device that lets merchants equipped with magnetic stripe card point-of-sale terminals begin accepting payments via contactless cards, contactless stickers attached to existing phones or NFC-enabled mobile phones. The Vivopay 4800 can also be used to deliver real-time in-store personal marketing offers, merchandising campaigns and loyalty programs.

Sequent raises funds: US-based NFC specialist Sequent Software has closed a series A financing round led by Opus Capital and SK Telecom Ventures. “We are the only company whose sole focus is being a neutral, pervasive administrator of individuals’ personal identification and credentials between the payments world, retailers, smartphone providers and mobile network operators,” says Sequent CEO Drew Weinstein.

Hashable adds NFC to contacts app: Android contacts app developer Hashable has added NFC support to allow users to swap contact info and check into the same activity with someone. “If you meet someone else with an NFC-powered phone, you can just hold the phones next to each other and contact info will be exchanged via the app,” Techcrunch reports. “If the other person is a new contact, Hashable will add that person as one. If it is an existing contact, it will trigger the check-in feature, which on Hashable allows you to check into people instead of to places. It’s a way of noting that you are doing an activity with someone to remember later or broadcast it out to your network.”

Levi’s tests AmEx coupons: American Express and LevelUp, developed by Google-backed start-up Scvngr, are running a multi-city couponless loyalty pilot with Levi’s. The new service uses American Express’ Smart Offer APIs to let cardholders earn and redeem LevelUp deals when they use their AmEx card to pay. “After purchasing an initial offer, consumers unlock progressive deal levels that get better each time, creating incentive to return to the business and loyalty to the merchant along the way,” the companies explain. “When a cardmember uses his or her enrolled card at a merchant, the LevelUp savings will be automatically delivered via a statement credit to the card account.”

New members appointed to EMVCo advisory board: EMVCo has announced the expansion of its board of advisors. Ingenico, Inside Secure, the Smart Payment Association and Walmart join spaces reserved for elected EMVCo technical associates and will serve a one-year term.

Identive Group buys e-security firm idOnDemand: Smart identification provider idOnDemand has been bought by Identive Group. Ayman S Ashour, chairman and chief executive officer of Identive, said idOnDemand enhanced his firm’s ability to provide electronic security credentials, while strengthening its position in the NFC market.

PayPal buys mobile payment developer: PayPal has bought Fig Card, as it further develops its move into what it describes as the “new retail landscape”. Fig Card has developed a USB device that plugs into POS terminals — all the consumer needs is the Fig app on his or her smartphone to make payments. PayPal has not said how the partnership will work, but Max Metral and Hasty Granbery from Fig Card will join the online payments giant.

OSPT appoints Laurent Cremer to push Cipurse: The Open Standard for Public Transport (OSPT) Alliance has announced the appointment of Laurent Cremer as the organisation’s first executive director. Cremer joins from his role as international business developer at Arkadin and will lead OSPT’s push to establish Cipurse as the primary e-ticketing system for transport operators.

Asia Pacific becomes largest smartphone market: The Asia Pacific region has become the world’s largest smartphone market, with year-on-year growth of 98% to 37.3 million units, putting it ahead of Europe, the Middle East and Africa for the first time since 2007, according to research from analysts Canalys. Mainland China, South Korea and India delivered strong volumes and registered triple-digit growth. Android led the global smartphone market for the second quarter running, increasing its share to 35%.

Connecthings invests in Lifera: NFC marketing services provider Connecthings has bought shares in Silicon Valley-based Lifera. Laetitia Gazel Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will join the Lifera board. The companies aim to roll out an NFC trial in California this summer involving retail, hospitality and entertainment.

Solacia certified NFC USIM: Solacia, a Korean mobile embedded software developer, has achieved Common Criteria certification for its NFC-enabled universal subscriber identity module (USIM), according to

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