The four Danish network operators have banded together to create a standard NFC platform, and admitted that it is the threat from Google that has driven them to do so.
The four networks – TDC, Telenor, TeliaSonera and Three – have banded together to create a standard, SIM-hosted, platform for NFC applications, much like the one announced in the UK last week and in America last November. But TDC has been more explicit in explaining the motivation behind the move:
"The threat stemming from non-SIM based wallets, such as Google has launched, [has increased] the sense of urgency," TCD told NFC Times. "Basically, there's continuously a fear from the telco side to being reduced to a bit pipe."
That's not very surprising, but one rarely hears it said openly.
Google's Nexus S handset has an embedded NFC Secure Element under the control of the chocolate factory. This element could (and no doubt will) host payment and loyalty applications that bypass the network operator entirely. So if they're going to remain relevant, the operators will need to push their SIM-based alternative.
Google will obviously be arguing that its storage is operator-agnostic, so it is interesting to see the Danes emphasising the portability of their platform as picked up by NFC World, which quote the partners explaining that end users "will therefore not experience the slightest change in the use of the digital wallet when changing telecommunications company".
In most countries the operators dismiss potential competition from Google, while the search giant reiterates that it doesn't care who controls the secure element, but in reality there's a good deal of competition with the important players (Visa, Mastercard and the banks) still waiting to see how the field develops.
The Danes reckon there's still some waiting to do, and the telcos are not planning to have anything ready to deploy until next year, when there should be a range of NFC handsets in the market – most of which will not contain a Google-owned secure element. ®