Nokia Corp. plans to include a Near Field Communication chip in every one of its smart phones next year, the handset maker announced June 17 at a conference sponsored by the Mobey Forum, a Finland-based mobile-payments trade association.

Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia vice president for markets, told conference attendees the phones will support the Single Wire Protocol and MicroSD security.

With the Single Wire Protocol, a wire connects the NFC chip to a mobile phone’s SIM card, which is used to identify a subscriber on the carrier’s network. MicroSD is a memory card used in mobile phones and digital cameras.

Red Gillen, a senior analyst in Celent LLC’s banking group, believes Nokia’s decision to include an NFC chip “might put to rest the notion that banks would have to pay for the hardware.”

The argument for many years has been which industry player would pay for the chip, Gillen says. “We still have a long way to go, but it appears the [handset manufacturers and wireless carriers] are going to have to eat the cost,” he adds.

A single NFC chip costs between $2 and $8, Gillen estimates.

To date, Nokia phones with NFC chips have been deployed only in various pilots. The Nokia 6212 phone last year was used in a Citigroup Inc. NFC trial in India. The test involved some 5,000 consumers who could make contactless payments for purchases at approximately 400 merchants (see story).

Nokia’s announcement may be the missing link to mobile-network operator Orange’s plans for a European NFC rollout next year.

France-based Orange earlier this year announced two separate plans involving NFC-chip manufacturer Gemalto NV and Barclaycard. Orange and Barclaycard partnered to eventually deploy NFC-enabled mobile phones (see story). Gemalto is providing the chips.

Nokia is the only handset manufacturer with NFC-enabled phones despite a plea from the GSM Association for handset makers to place payment chips in all their phones by the middle of 2009. The GSM Association is trade group that supports the telecommunication industry.

Many observers had speculated Apple Inc.’s new iPhone would contain an NFC chip, but that was not the case when it was revealed June 7. It was a mild surprise because Apple had been filing patents for different NFC uses, including using an NFC-enabled phone to interact with an ATM.

“[Apple] is still figuring out which direction to go with NFC,” Gillen says.

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