UK company Aspects Software has secured £17.9 million in venture capital to create highly secure SIM cards which allow financial transactions on mobile phones.
The funding will allow the company to join the race to develop mobile phone commerce, also known as mCommerce. The technology aims to give users pre-pay credits which can be used for transactions on the Internet.
Aspects Software founder Neil Stewart, who has set up a new subsidiary company, mobEcom, to develop the project, said there could be more than one billion new mobile phone subscribers in the next four years.
“We anticipate that more than 30% are expected to need the sort of security currently being developed by mobEcom,” Stewart said. “The growth in mCommerce will ensure a huge demand for secure applications.
“The mobile phone can at last evolve to become a payment device as ubiquitous as the credit card.”
The £17.9 million funding package is being backed by 3I investment bank, Commerzbank AG, Scottish Equity Partners and the Helsinki-based SFT 99 Technology Fund.
Despite the huge growth in mobile phone use in recent years, mCommerce is still in its infancy. The main obstacle to development lies in securing the data which is transmitted during electronic transactions.
Although eCommerce on the Internet is conducted over a secure landline, mCommerce transmits data through the air. The main worry for security experts is that valuable information may literally be plucked from the air and used to commit fraud.
So far, no breaches of security have been reported on the limited number of mCommerce services that exist. But full-scale development is unlikely to proceed until the technology exists for securing all data during transmission.