Windows Phones have been built with NFC chips in them for years, but that hasn’t led to mobile payments until now. Softcard is a venture between AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile to enable mobile NFC payments. The system uses an app to hold the information and a secure SIM to ensure that the sensitive card info is safe. Now a Softcard app is available under the AT&T Services, Inc developer.
Paying for things with a tap of the phone has been the dream of smartphone users for years now. With the press of Apple Pay stores are beginning to pay more attention to the growing number of consumers who want to use their phones to pay. One issue is what platform and method to use. Google Wallet and Apple Pay use a secure element on every phone to secure the PIN number from possible malicious apps or devices. Another method is a secure SIM, but this requires a special ‘enhanced’ SIM to be issued from the carrier in order to work.
Softcard has gone with the secure SIM method to keep user info safe. Releasing this app is the first of two steps to enabling mobile payment. The second step is getting a secure SIM, or as AT&T calls it, an enhanced SIM. Once you get an enhanced SIM, the app works simple, just tap your phone to pay and input your PIN on the app to authenticate the purchase.
An enhanced SIM card can be picked up from any AT&T store for free. The new SIM doesn’t change your number — it just adds an additional layer of security into the SIM. Verizon’s website implies their phones use a Secure Element for Softcard, and there are no Windows Phones listed as compatible with Softcard. This is to be expected since Windows Phones typically don’t use the Secure Element, and Verizon is a CDMA carrier who doesn’t rely upon SIM cards. T-Mobile uses an Advanced SIM card to enable Softcard, but doesn’t list any Windows Phones as compatible.Further reading: Microsoft, Mobile Payment, Softcard, Windows Phone