A pan-European consortium of companies, universities and user groups has been created to develop an open architecture for the development, deployment and use of near field communications-enabled applications in mobile handsets.

Co-funded by the European Commission Information Society Technologies program, the ‘Store Logistics and Payment with NFC’ (StoLPaN) project aims to define open commercial and technical frameworks for near field communications (NFC)-enabled services on mobile devices. These frameworks will facilitate the deployment of NFC-enabled mobile applications across a wide range of vertical markets, regardless of the phone type and the nature of the services required.

Many industries are employing contactless applications in increasing numbers for applications such as payment and transport ticketing. Furthermore, NFC trials conducted around the world have shown that consumers like the simplicity of using their mobile phone to access and securely pay for entertainment, information and services while on the move.

In order to accurately address the interoperability issues currently affecting the technology, various usage cases are to be defined within the StoLPaN framework and tested throughout Europe. These use cases will contribute to the identification of a common set of business rules. The results will then be submitted for approval to the relevant industry bodies for standardization of payments, mobile, transit and ticketing.

Based on these findings, the consortium will look into the specifications for technical requirements and the security aspects of NFC-enabled applications. They will also explore the connection to existing contactless platforms, easing the burden on individual providers.

A NFC host application will be developed to support a range of services, including payment, access control, ticketing, loyalty, connectivity, and the retail check-out process; which consumers will be able to use with any NFC-enabled device.

The StoLPaN project team expects to issue its first version of the business rules and technical requirements by summer 2007. These will be accompanied by the first version of the host application; demonstrating its use with transport and closed payment applications. The StoLPaN project is scheduled for completion by 2009.

The consortium members involved are Motorola, NXP Semiconductors, Auto-ID-Lab St Gallen, Banca Popolare di Vicenza, Bull, Baker&McKenzie, Consorzio Triveneto, Consult Hyperion, Deloitte, Fornax, Libri, Safepay Systems, Sun Microsystems, T-Systems, as well as the Budapest University of Technology and Economics and Budapest Tech John von Neumann Faculty of Informatics.