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Orange offers €40k for the best bit of NFC bonking

App compo to drive adoption of the radio comms tech

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France Telecom-Orange is offering forty grand in prize money to best applications using NFC, with a €5K bonus if it relies on an Orange SIM too.

The competition is being run by the French arm of Orange, so the details are in French, but it's open to anyone who has a good idea for an NFC app and is looking for a some financial incentive to get themselves motivated.

Three winners will pocket €20k, €10k and €5k for first, second and third place respectively, with a €5k bonus to those who make use of the secure element embedded in the Orange SIM, a key factor given Orange started rolling out such SIMs to its contract customers last year and is keen to find a use for them.

Near Field Communications isn't just a short-range radio standard, it also mandates a secure store into which credit cards, tickets, vouchers and such can be tucked away from the vulnerable operating system. Google Wallet uses a secure element in the phone handset, but the network operators would like to see it in the SIM.

To that end Orange started rolling out secure-element-hosting SIMs to its contract customers last year, as NFC Times notes, in the expectation that some of them would end up in NFC phones and enough would get used to justify the expense, which is probably why it's so keen to find apps which make use of it.

It's not the first time Orange has rushed out SIM technology ahead of applications for same. Back in 2006 Orange started deploying SIMs which doubled as 128MB memory cards, but it never found a use for all that space and backed the wrong high-speed communications standard - so the Orange MegaSIM never went far.

Ironically enough, the MMC standard backed by Orange in 2006 needed three communication pins and would not have left a contact point for the communication with NFC, while the USB standard which was adopted for high-capacity SIMs only ties up two of the eight contacts available on a SIM card - which remain unused as High Capacity SIMs turned into a dead end - but left one wire to keep the SIM relevant.

How relevant remains to be seen, NFC is pretty much inevitable now, but the battle for ownership of the secure element is only just beginning, which is why Orange is so keen to see what can be done with theirs. ®

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