There is a big ongoing debate about the future of the SIM, as illustrated by e-Smart’s debate about “SIM, no SIM , super SIM?”. I don’t have the answer, and as a Java Card expert, I am not sure to really care. It seems that most people agree that it is nice to have at least a secure element on the phone.
There is a recent pilot that puts Moneo (the French electronic purse) on mobile phones, allowing a few students to pay their meals with their phones. Olivier Méric, director of BMS, the company that issues Moneo, has provided the following quote (my translation):
Students will received a mobile phone equipped with the Moneo function. A secure element is embedded without being integrated in the SIM card.
The pilot is then labeled as “multi-operator“, because the students don’t have to change mobile operator. On the other hand, the pilot is “single-bank”, and also “mono-terminal” (a Nokia 6131 NFC). It’s funny that the operators are not quoted on this one.
The good news is that people are pushing the use of two Java cards on a single phone (the Nokia 6131 NFC integrates a Java Card chip). The bad news is of course that, although this approach is multi-operator, the fact that it is single-bank and mono-terminal does not sound that good. I am a customer at several banks, I like to choose my phones, and I don’t think that I am that unusual.
This news item really reminded me of the conclusions of last spring’s SIM conferences: “NFC is the future, … if we find a business model”. Until then, we technical people will have to keep working, keep saying that the technical solutions are available, and hope that the business guys will find a deal. Only then will the real fun (i.e., the real deployments) begin. With 1, 2, or more Java Card platforms on every phone.