CyanogenMod releases CM Tapp an NFC mobile payment solution

first_imgThere’s no shortage of companies working on an NFC payment system. Unfortunately, it has become a contest to be the most important and it is hurting the customers. For example, Verizon Wireless phones aren’t allowed to install Google Wallet via the Play Store, Visa has publicly stated that carrier negotiations are one of the hurdles in delivering a product to the US, and AT&T has gone as far as to disable NFC on some phones to deny access to competing services. As a user, I find it routinely frustrating to be blocked from this viable technology for any reason. Thanks to the CyanogenMod team I was able to help them test run CM Tapp, which allowed me to experience secure payments on any NFC-enabled device running CyanogenMod.CM Tapp, powered by Simply Tapp, allows you to create what are essentially gift cards for supported locations. For example, if you’re a Whole Foods, McDonald’s, or Tim Horton’s (etc.), customer you can create a gift card on your device for those locations. Alternatively, you can create a universal gift card that will work everywhere NFC readers are used to accept payments. The setup is simple, and the gift card system works just like Google Wallet. While testing out CM Tapp I found myself relying on the CyanogenMod Tapp Reloadable cards, mostly because it was inefficient for me to put $20 on multiple various gift cards and then let the money just sit there if I wasn’t actively using it.It’s not an entirely free service — each card type has a different transaction fee associated with it, based on what CM Tapp is charged for completing transactions with those cards. The price varies for whatever kind of card you are using. If you get a McDonald’s card, your transaction fee is fairly low. If you go with a Tapp Anywhere card, your transaction fee is much higher. The notion of spending money so that you spend your money is awkward, but there’s no major credit card company that is alright with hemorrhaging money for market share involved, so the costs are reflected onto the user.What makes CM Tapp special is how the transaction happens. Google Wallet relies on a secure element, a physical piece of hardware in the phone, to hold the secure credentials of the transaction. This allows the transaction to happen even when the device is offline, but also creates a single hard point of failure if the transaction is ever spoofed by a malicious attacker. CM Tapp requires a data connection, as the secure element needed to complete the transaction lives “in the cloud”. There’s yet to be any third party evidence to suggest that one method is more secure than the other, but at the very least there would be more steps involved in capturing secure data from the CM Tapp method.CM Tapp is available now to any NFC enabled Android device running CyanogenMod 9 Stable Release. This makes CM Tapp supported on more devices than any other mobile payment solution on the market. Obviously this isn’t the end all solution for mobile payments on Android yet, since you must be a CyanogenMod user in order to take advantage of the software right now. While the 3 million strong in the CM community is impressive, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the vast Android ecosystem growing at 900,000 activations per day. Of those activations, however, more and more of those users will have NFC built into their phone. Those users are going to want mobile payments, and right now CM Tapp is the only app willing to give it to them without some string attached.last_img

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