So the NFC & International Micropayment Forum met for the second time in Taipei on June 24th 2008. Toro went there because, as a Taiwan-based company, it was kind of our duty to attend the event. Moreover, Collis was sponsoring the event and since they are one of our shareholders, we wanted to support them. So we dropped by to say “hi!” to the people we actually meet once or twice a month already. Nothing to be expected, really, from this NFC Forum. Or so we thought.
The 1st half of the day was boring as expected, because we already knew the viewpoints of everyone in the ecosystem. We however heard formally what we already knew non-formally: everyone, from SIM card makers, mobile operators, banks, chipset providers, etc. wants to become a TSM (Trusted Service Manager). Because that is where they think the money is for now. Big mess in perspective, indeed. But that’s Taiwan…
The 2nd half of the event, after a better-not-to-mention-it lunch buffet, started just like the 1st half, with a boring and conventional speech from the national carrier, Chunghwa Telecom. But, then, when the topic moved from “TSM” to “Certification and interoperability”, we discovered a new face, a new company in the ecosystem. These guys seem concerned about interoperability issues, and for that matter their value proposal to the market is to be… a “neutral” TSM that centralizes all the secure OTA downloads in the country! People started laughing until they realized these guys have government backing.
NeuCom is the name they coined in February 2008, when they setup the company in Taiwan. It seems that one of the well-known TSM, Venyon Oy, which had little if any market in Taiwan, decided to go directly to the Taiwanese regulator to change things big time. So in 10 minutes, we have passed from a situation where everyone wants to become a TSM and is investing in expensive OTA platforms, to a situation where the regulator is likely to kill the market by proposing a neutral government backed system (which means: cheaper than the private TSMs), and centralized to allow better interoperability.
So this NFC Forum was finally “the place to be” if you work in NFC services in Taiwan. I believe things will never be the same around here after this June 24th 2008. As a matter of fact, one of the largest bank in Taiwan, TaiShin, already announced that they would probably go with NeuCom. Congratulations to Greg Pote, Chairman of APSCA, who organized this event like a Shakespearian tragedy.