There's a lot of buzz surrounding the possibility of using NFC-enabled smartphones to replace transit smartcards. Most of the initiatives are started by the cellphone operators, who want to control the mobile payments ecosystem.
The introduction of Host Card Emulation for Android (standard on OS 4.4 KitKat) is starting to fuel the development of many applications that could be used for mobile payments, access control, and smartcard emulation.
NXP's MiFare platform for smartcards and public transport is now in use in more than 650 cities worldwide, enabling citizens to pay for their journeys quickly. Together with Sony's Felica, popular in Asia, more than 8 billion NFC smartcards are used in the world today.
But mass transit authorities and independent developers find very complicated to develop their own apps to interact with the MiFare authentication system. The infrastructure is there, and the hardware is ready, but only the operators and a few technology companies are currently able to develop solutions.
Now NXP has released the first Software Development Kit for Android to make easier to developers to create mobile applications interacting with MiFare, Icode and NTAG. The SDK will support development in many applications such as:
- Smartcard-enabled Android applications
- Access management
- Closed-loop micropayment
- Campus and student cards
- Loyalty programs, couponing and gift card applications
- Smart homes
- Customer interaction
- Smart media
The SDK includes a sample application with source code, full library documentation, and an Android Java library.
According to Pedro Martínez, head of the NFC m-knowledge center at NXP in Barcelona, “This MIFARE SDK is designed to enable Android apps to easily interact with MIFARE, ICODE and NTAG ICs. There is no need any more to spend time and effort consulting low level datasheets in order to establish a communication with a specific contactless IC.”
Developers can use different security standards to authorize the transactions. “The SDK is not meant to be replacing the necessary use of the SE in secure related NFC transactions, and therefore the secure applications (like the transit ones or others) will need to rely on the SE, whether being the eSE or the UICC, or an external uSD,” Martinez added
There are two versions of the SDK: The free basic kit is available now, and the “advanced version” which will be available soon. The free version which can be used with most MIFARE cards, provides a subset of features for quick, easy development of lightweight applications. The advanced version will include the full command set and will enable fast development of complex applications. NXP will hold a MIFARE SDK webinar on June 17 and June 18.
Asked if NXP will release SDKs for other mobile platforms, Martinez answered that “this will be considered for OS which becomes relevant in volumes with respect to the use of NFC.”
Barcelona was chosen by NXP in 2012 as the location of its Mobile Knowledge Center for its status as the Mobile World Capital.
This article was originally published on EBN's sister publication EE Times.