CaixaBank is managing smartphone hardware challenges for its new mobile payment app by adopting host card emulation (HCE).

Originally appearing as part of Google's Kit Kat Android operating system, HCE enables developers to add NFC-based mobile payment functionality to apps without having approval to integrate it within the phone’s hardware, an approach that’s gaining favor among companies that are looking for ways to avoid differences in access that may stem from disparate operating systems. Visa and MasterCard have announced support for HCE, and in Spain, Bankinter is already on board with HCE.

This is particularly important in the Android world—which is the only platform CaixaBank has chosen to initially support with this new app—as the huge number of Android handset manufacturers would make a NFC-only approach challenging.

The CaixaBank app, which launched Friday, will work with any NFC-enabled Android device. In Spain, the app will work with about 600,000 POS terminals, along with an unspecified number of contactless ATMs, the bank said.

The bank, which said that it was the first use NFC payments in Spain, claims "some 2.6 million CaixaBank customers do their banking habitually through Línea Abierta M-vil, while the bank registers more than 160 mobile transactions a month, of which 36% involve the movement of funds. It also has more than 65 apps and 3 million downloads a year."

Caixa has been trying to expand regionally, both in Central and Eastern Europe as well as through its Elo Global Cards joint venture with Discover


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