Bankinter plans to bring Near Field Communication mobile payments to its customers in Spain, using host card emulation (HCE) technology to support the mobile virtual card it developed last year.

HCE allows mobile applications to bypass the phone's secure element, eliminating a barrier to supporting NFC payments. The Spanish bank says it will offer HCE-based payments in the second or third quarter of 2014.

Since HCE became part of Google's Android 4.4 "KitKat" smartphone operating system in November, it has enabled mobile wallets such as the NFC-based Google Wallet to work on a much broader range of handsets and wireless networks.

Last year, Bankinter and technology provider Seglan developed a mobile virtual card for one-time use as a debit or credit card to allow consumers to make contactless payments in retail stores and online. With the addition of HCE, the product is now ready for launch in the coming months, the bank states in a Feb. 18 press release.

"The mobile virtual card is a technology allowing a multiplicity of different implementations," Jacobo Diaz, director of innovation, products and markets at Bankinter, states in the release.

A consumer using the virtual card would first download the application to a smartphone and register the card through the Bankinter website, over the phone or at a Bankinter branch. The user can register multiple credit or debit cards to be used for EMV-based mobile payments at merchant locations, the bank says.

The virtual card software and HCE technology does not require any changes at the merchant point of sale terminal for NFC proximity payments, nor does it require extra network or wireless connectivity, the bank says.

Bankinter says it will make technology available in the future for any financial institution interested in "evolving their mobile payments services" with an EMV standard for debit and credit cards.

Banks can get a mobile virtual card to market fairly quickly by integrating a customizable management module for the card in the issuer's secure domain or by obtaining card tokenization services from a trusted third party, Bankinter says.

"The mobile virtual card solution eliminates the main difficulties that have slowed the commercial launch of NFC payments," Diaz says.

Banco de Santander and Bank of America founded Bankinter as a joint venture in June of 1965. The venture, which was then a Spanish industrial bank, was listed on the Madrid stock exchange in 1972, at which time the bank became independent of its founders and converted into a commercial bank.

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