Report On RFID Asia Summit 2008

What on my heart would say after attending the show? Sad.

The new and running technology that was the star of the show, NFC, would not run on Indonesia in near future. At least that was on my heart. The problem is not because of we have no capability, but it is more of the flaw of current business process. Today's Indonesian regulation flawed so much that the requirements of NFC would not met in near future.

For the sake of clarity, let me explain a little about NFC. NFC as brief can be described as the merger of RFID technology combined with selular telecommunication (telco). Today, they even take further by using Smart Card technology embedded for creating reliable and secure communication.

The basic setup of NFC is to implement RFID technology on a mobile device (e.g. hand phone and PDA) and integrate it with the mobile device application. To enhance further, NFC implemented a secure chipset based on Global Platform 2.2 specification with Over The Air technology. This addendum is important to create secure communication from the mobile device to a secure server providing monetary function. Global Platform is a respectful standard for enhancing Javacard technology to be used as debit card and so on.

So, how can we use the technology?

Possibility #1:
When you walk to the store, you would like to see a profile of an item, for instance a music CD. You could wave your mobile device near the item. Then, the mobile device would display the information about the artist and the album. This can be done because RFID tag was installed in the CD case and the mobile device, which NFC compatible, have the reader to read the tag. And then, it passed the information, usually ID, to the application on the mobile device and then the application shows renders the information.

Possibility #2:
When you and your friends want to share a picture between your mobile devices. With Bluetooth only technology, you could be confused by many peripherals that also uses Bluetooth arround you. But with RFID technology infused in both phone, you just wave the phones and automatically the phones could decide which device they would connect.

Possibility #3:
You could go to a secure booth and put some cash on your mobile device. So, whenever you would like to use a service with NFC enabled, like the subway transportation or fast food counter, you can use your phone as payment card. Neat and no more waiting for exchange.

And other possibilities.

Few things that came across in my mind are the issue of security and privacy. How would you like to embrace security when you involve the money and one of the speakeer explained to me with providing encryption on the chipset just like Smart Card. But, I still not convinced with that because of the loose implementation that bad implementation could lead to serious flaw. However, this could be tackle by certification of the implementation. Again, role of a respectful organization is needed.

The privacy problem would involving with the nature of RFID. The tag would automatically read by the reader within certain range. How would you like to avoid some reader would not read your information. For instance, just like in the Minority Report, a reader in a plaza read the customer ID and chose to provide relevant ad to the customer. Now, there is nothing wrong with pornography but a matter of personal beliefs. The matter is it would be too embarrassing for the customer provided with that ad in the public place. Not because the person want to, but because of the automatic reading.

Another problem is that this technology involve two different world: the telcos and the monetary institutions (banks). Everyone must be ensured that they have something for them. Those two elements must integrated in a way that each player have benefit of the implementation. The telco may provide the fundamental communication and the monetary institution provide the monetary service. With this mutual work, everyone need to be integrated seamlessly.

This is the main reason why I think Indonesia would fall in implementation. Today telcos and banks infrastructure are owned by their own bank. To meet the consensus, every telco and bank must let their networking infrastructure be used equally. In Malaysia, they can do that easily since the government hold the ATM infrastructure.

Because of the integration issue, every player of NFC must have consensus to guarantee interoperability between them. But today in Indonesia, even MiFARE implementation of JakCard and BNI card resulting in different which both cannot interoperability. Every telcos implements their own network. So basically, NFC would be a high cost implementation.

So, my basic question to the government is how would you like to take charge of IT infrastructure completely and force everyone to integrate so everyone would fight not in the IT infrastructure but to concentrate on the services they provide? This would make technology implementation cheaper.

They can implements that in Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, why not Indonesia?


  1. Cheaper IT implementation means less money to the capitalist and the government itself. Big no-no :D


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