The mobile carrier Sprint is launching Pinsight Touch, a national, open platform for securely storing and accessing credentials on a mobile device.
Sprint's initiative could expand the use of Near Field Communication (NFC), a technology used in several prominent mobile wallets.
Pinsight Touch offers a direct path for companies to enable their own branded applications with NFC, and share secured access to those credentials with other trusted applications. The program is designed to facilitate communication between the consumer's phone and the merchant's point of sale device.
Sprint is using technology from Sequent to enable app developers to add NFC functionality into their mobile apps. Sprint is also leveraging Pinsight Media+, a mobile media company owned by Sprint, to incorporate a suite of tools to assist issuers and merchants in building mobile payments programs.
"Pinsight Touch provides businesses with the flexibility to offer innovative technologies without having to compromise their brand and their relationships with customers," says Evan Conway, vice president of monetization and strategy for Pinsight Media+, in an Oct. 3 press release. "Transit, access and payment companies will now have a better way to connect with customers via their own mobile apps and services."
Because many Sprint phones are already "Touch-enabled," millions of customers will be able to turn on NFC credential usage by simply saying "yes" to an opt-in question within a mobile app. Trusted issuers are able to leverage their existing authentication and offer an easy upgrade path for consumers to adopt NFC, Sprint says in a release. Sprint offers many NFC-enabled devices, with more planned for release this year and in 2014.
NFC is vying with other technology, such as QR codes, to enable mobile phones to be used as payment devices. The Isis initiative, which is backed by Sprint's rivals AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, relies on NFC. Starbucks and LevelUp have used QR codes, and PayPal and Square offer cloud-based wallets. Among phone manufacturers, Apple has never used NFC in its iPhone line, while Samsung supports NFC and other approaches in different versions of its Samsung Wallet.
Sprint also recently launched a Boost Mobile Wallet for prepaid mobile phone users.