GlobalPlatform discovery specification eases NFC roaming

Standards body GlobalPlatform has published a new specification that enables an NFC system to discover the application protocols that are supported by a second NFC system. System Protocol Discovery Mechanism (SPDM) use cases include making it easier for a consumer travelling abroad to use local NFC services such as transportation ticketing, GlobalPlatform says.

GlobalPlatform“For example, if someone travels from Paris to Tokyo and wishes to use his/her NFC device to pay for a ticket on the Tokyo metro, the Tokyo metro operator does not know how to technically communicate with the person’s secure element (SE) owner — a French mobile operator for example — until the first discovery mechanism dialog between the relevant servers establishes a common technical language or protocol,” Gil Bernabeu, GlobalPlatform’s technical director explains.

“Suddenly, it is possible for the Tokyo metro to request the service loading and to allow the end user to use his/her device to ‘talk’ to the Japanese metro paygate. Technically, it opens up many possibilities and provides a basis for relationship building between different actors in the ecosystem.”

“While it is applicable to any ecosystem and any protocol to be discovered, the new specification has been defined to specifically support the provisioning of mobile NFC services, downloaded by an end-user into a device’s secure element (SE),” the organisation says.

“Once a service provider’s device application, for example a wallet, is deployed on a device, the mechanism will enable the service provider to dynamically discover who the SE issuer is and what protocols are available to communicate with the SE issuer. If the correct business arrangement is in place between the service provider and the SE owner, and the necessary application protocols are supported by both servers, then services can be remotely provisioned into the device’s SE.

“The SPDM Specification is not, however, restricted to usage in the NFC environment or even to use cases involving a service provider or device application. It also applies to other secure components, such as the trusted execution environment (TEE).”

“The SPDM Specification also enables the end-point location of a server to be shared with other systems,” GlobalPlatform adds. “The ability of this specification to accurately report this information offers real value for ecosystem actors. Deployments are dynamic and evolve over time, frequently resulting in multiple server address changes.

“Thanks to the SPDM, which allows the end-point location of servers to be remotely discovered, cards and SEs can be kept ‘live’ even when the SE issuer’s server address changes.

“The specification — which will be valuable for all stakeholders in the mobile NFC landscape including SE issuers, service providers, trusted service managers, service providers and system integrators — can also be used to deploy NFC services in a roaming environment.”

“As the deployment of NFC services continues to grow, there is an increasing need for stakeholders to dynamically create new business arrangements and communicate on a local, regional, national and international scale,” Bernabeu adds.

“For services such as payment, loyalty and ticketing, consumers increasingly demand that these services are not restricted to geographical regions. As such, the specification can also be used to facilitate and ease cross-border communication between actors.”

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