Use public transport worldwide with an NFC-enabled smartphone!

Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie – BMWi) hosted the first global meeting of transport providers and the mobile telecommunications industry to discuss NFC in early September. Their goal is to enable the global use of the NFC interface in smartphones for e-tickets in the future. The event was organised by the OPTIMOS, GSMA and NFC Forum project partners.

The use of near field communication (NFC) in smartphones in the current global public transport infrastructure, which is constantly being expanded to include a growing range of functions, has encouraged transport providers from around the world and the mobile telecommunications industry to join forces on standardisation at an international level for the first time. As a result, transport providers and e-ticket system providers from 10 countries (accounting for approximately 80% of all e-ticket systems used worldwide) met in Berlin with representatives of the mobile telecommunications industry and international standardisation bodies for the first time to practically test something that has been developed in intensive efforts over the past two years: a solution for interoperability between public transport infrastructure and NFC-enabled mobile devices.

The next logical step would be to use NFC-enabled smartphones in the existing public transport infrastructure. However, this would require creating conditions to allow NFC-enabled mobile devices to work reliably with public transport readers and/or chip cards.

To this end, the NFC Forum, a non-profit industry association that supports the use of NFC technology, and the GSMA, the global association of mobile telecommunications companies, set up an international working group two years ago. Members include NFC Forum experts, mobile network operators, public transport standardisation bodies and representatives of public transport service providers. The working group’s harmonisation efforts aimed to close gaps between the two groups of standards so as to ensure that NFC-enabled mobile devices can be used reliably in a wide range of global public transport infrastructures.

BMWi invited participants to practically test international interoperability for the first time. This first international test was a success. Public transport terminals from countries such as Ireland, Hong Kong, Spain and Japan worked with selected Samsung and Sony NFC-enabled smartphones that already comply with the new interoperable specifications.

To enable the use of NFC mobile tickets in Germany’s public transport network in the future, BMWi is sponsoring the OPTIMOS research project as part of the German federal government’s NFC initiative. The 18 project partners from the public transport, mobile telecommunications and IT security industries have joined forces to work on an open NFC ecosystem and secure architectures for future generations of NFC-enabled mobile devices. OPTIMOS is overseen by VDV eTicket Service. The findings will serve as proof of concept for global NFC and public transport standardisation.

The OPTIMOS project partners include Bundesdruckerei, the Federal Office for Information Security (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik – BSI), Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), Giesecke & Devrient, Governikus, Infineon, KAPRION, NXP Semiconductors, Rheinbahn, Samsung, Sony, Technische Universität Dresden, Telefónica, Deutsche Telekom, T-Systems, Verkehrsverbund Berlin Brandenburg (VBB) and Vodafone, with VDV eTicket Service providing project management.

OPTIMOS is sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and is scheduled for completion by February 2018.

Find out more about OPTIMOS at www.optimos.org