If its flash memory based then SanDisk has a hand in it. That’s no blanket statement either: You think MemorySticks are from Sony? Nope, Sony and SanDisk. What about microSD? SanDisk, MiniSD? SanDisk, SD? Matsushita, Toshiba and SanDisk, TrustedFlash? SanDisk, you get my point… anyway, another innovation from this ubiquitous company may now mean we start using memory cards for contactless payments. Here’s the skinny.
SanDisk is modifying its TrustedFlash cards in conjunction with Philips’ SmartMX chips so they can perform secure Near Field Communication-enabled (NFC) applications. In essence, this is short range wireless technology which will allow users to pay for train and bus journeys by simply waving their mobile device near a contactless reader in a mass transit turnstile, checkout counter or even drive through window. Think of a more flexible version of London Transport’s Oyster card and you won’t be going far wrong.
Now this is all well and good but I’m sure a fair portion of you are thinking “Getting my mobile stolen is bad enough without it effectively being my frickin’ credit card as well!” It’s a fair point and one that SanDisk is attempting to tackle in two ways. Firstly, the new technology is primarily being designed for small over the counter style purchases such as the aforementioned train and bus tickets, as well as sundries like cups of coffee, newspapers and sandwiches. Secondly, the cards can be remotely controlled over a network (much like handset applications are today) so that once a stolen phone is reported the card can be disabled.
So far the technology is being deployed via SD and miniSD flash memory formats (no word yet on microSD) with adaptors being made for handsets not capable of NFC transmissions and pilot programmes are currently underway. Should all go well then 2007 will be a year that brings a new meaning to all those credit card references constantly used to describe the latest handsets.