Slideshow 7 Companies Pushing Past NFC's Limitations

  • February 21 2014, 4:01pm EST
9 Images Total

There is a sudden surge of attention around Host Card Emulation, a technology that enables Near Field Communication contactless payments without requiring access to the phone's secure element (a chip that carriers control). Several mobile wallets are either in testing or fully live with the technology. (Image: ShutterStock)


Visa is testing Host Card Emulation (HCE) for contactless Visa payWave payments made from smartphones. The card network says several issuers are already piloting this technology. (Image: Bloomberg News)

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MasterCard has also gotten behind HCE, with plans to publish an HCE specification it developed over the past year with Capital One and Banco Sabadell. (Image: Bloomberg News)


Bankinter has plans to use HCE to support mobile payments for its customers in Spain. It tested a mobile virtual card last year with technology provider Seglan. (Image: Bloomberg News)


When Google added HCE to the latest version of its Android smartphone software, Google Wallet was the first mobile app to benefit. As soon as the phones installed the new operating system, they prompted users to start making contactless payments. (Image: Bloomberg News)

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Android may be getting all of the attention today, but NFC card emulation was already a feature of BlackBerry phones. Some smartphone models can even support NFC transactions after the phone's battery dies. (Image: Bloomberg News)

Tim Hortons

Just after Google added HCE to Android phones, the Tim Hortons coffee chain updated its mobile app to use HCE for contactless payments. (Image: Bloomberg News)


Before Google made HCE a built-in feature of Android 4.4, the technology was placed on modified versions of Android by SimplyTapp, an Austin-based tech developer. Pictured: Google Android mascot (Image: Bloomberg News)

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Is Isis Next?

All of these efforts seem like an attack on the carriers' Isis wallet, an NFC-based payment system that enjoyed a home-field advantage on the AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile networks. But Isis could possibly make use of HCE as well, extending its own reach to the remaining U.S. carriers. (Image: ShutterStock)