The tech giant Microsoft has unveiled a digital wallet and SIM-based NFC to its latest operating system, Windows Phone 8.
The new OS was unveiled at a summit in June. Joe Belfiore, who takes charge of Windows Phone product definition and design, claimed that the mobile wallet Microsoft has developed will be the most complete wallet experience on any smartphone when it launches this fall.
Like Apple’s new Passbook app, the wallet aims to replace its counterpart by acting as a central hub where users can store their entire debit, credit and membership cars and coupons. These third party apps are integrated into the wallet through an API, which means users can do things such as check balances and collect coupons from one place.
Unlike Apple, Microsoft is also making an NFC play to enable users to make low value contactless payments with the cards in their wallet through a tap of the handset at the point-of-sale.
In contrast to another rival, Google, Microsoft has opted for a secure NFC SIM-based system, while Google chose to put the secure element in the device. Belfiore stated at the summit that Google’s decision has had some “unfortunate side effects”. Operators snubbed it because they want a SIM-based system that allows customers to keep it from one phone to the next.
The launch operator partner for the Wallet, Orange, has praised Microsoft’s choice for SIM. Orange will be first to market with the full wallet service when it launches in France at fall, but all phones with the new OS will include the wallet hub whether they have the secure SIM or not, which means that customers will still be able to store third party apps.
Belfiore also revealed that Microsoft has also been working with Isis, the US consortium of telcos that is building its own wallet, and expects to have its system on Isis at some point next year.