Mobile phone standard promotes safer m-commerce

Dealers could enjoy an m-commerce boom this year after vendors paved the way for the widespread adoption of pay-by-phone...

Dealers could enjoy an m-commerce boom this year after vendors paved the way for the widespread adoption of pay-by-phone commerce, by agreeing an open standard for transactions.

The standard has been formulated by the Mobile Electronic Transactions (MeT) initiative, a group that includes Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola.

The MeT standard will form the basis of new products due to be launched by its sponsors later this year. With support from Panasonic, Siemens and Sony, the proposals are based on existing industry standards such as WAP and Bluetooth.

MeT's associate members reviewed the specifications last month. Among the reviewers were security vendors, systems integrators and mobile network operators.

As security forms a key component of the release, MeT's specifications cover verification, confidentiality, authentication and non-repudiation. The proposals include details on digital signatures and cryptography based on a public key infrastructure.

Nokia communications manager Pekka Isosomppi said, "For mobile transactions to take place, we need a solid framework that's not only secure, but based on open standards. MeT has created that framework."

Nokia is itself preparing to launch an initial live test of the MeT standards in the spring with Visa International and Nordea Bank. The Finnish company launched its MeT-enabled Signet network servers at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes last week. These will be available in the third quarter of this year, closely followed by the first phones that conform to MeT standards.

"The tests with real customers will show us how people use MeT. With the first phones, they will be able to make remote payments, like booking theatre tickets. The next stage is the ability to make local purchases using terminals in stores. Then the phones will have become electronic purses," said Isosomppi.

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