SK Telecom intros USIM card that enables NFC on non-NFC phones

SK Telecom intros USIM card that enables NFC on non-NFC phones
SK Telecom has announced that it developed the world's first USIM card equipped with a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip, called ‘NFC on USIM,' that adds NFC-based services to non-NFC handsets. NFC on USIM, developed with SK Telecom's own technology, is a special USIM card embedded with a 13.56MHz antenna, NFC chip and USIM chip.

Developed in line with the company's efforts to minimize customers' cost burden, NFC on USIM can be simply inserted into customers' existing mobile phones to enable the use of a wide range of NFC services including mobile finance/ payment service. Previously, customers had to buy a mobile handset with a built-in NFC chip, or so-called NFC phone, to use the NFC function.

It's scheduled to be commercialized in October as a B2B service for enterprise customers. SK Telecom has plans to commercialize NFC on USIM in October 2011 for enterprise customers and will open NFC on USIM- related Application Programming Interface (API) to outside developers to boost the development of diverse NFC-based services.

Moreover, the company aims to provide NFC on USIM to the overseas markets including China to accelerate the spread of NFC-enabled handsets and the mobile payment infrastructure. It also plans to export Korea's advanced mobile finance/ payment solutions overseas, thereby helping Korean small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) expand their business to the international markets.

Commenting on the news, SK telecom's Head of Institute of Network Technology Ihm Jong-Tae said: "With the increase of NFC-enabled handsets supported by NFC on USIM, SK Telecom expects to boost the creation and adoption of NFC services, which has been chosen as one of the company's future growth engines. SK Telecom will position itself as the leader in the NFC-based business by constantly developing relevant technology and implementing appropriate business enhancement measures."

UPDATE: According to NFC World who got a confirmation from the South Korean carrier, the devices are expected to cost between $30 and $40 each, depending on volume. The new NFC USIMs support both card emulation and tag read/write functionality today. Peer-to-peer support will be added towards the end of 2011.

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