Today is Donnerstag, 21st Februar 2019

Host Card Emulation in Android 4.4 aka KitKat

This week Google announced version 4.4 of is mobile OS Android, also known as „kitkat“. One of the most existing features in this release is the so call „Host Card Emulation“ (HCE) mode. This allows application developers to developer software that simulates a smart card with having access to the secure element. In this case the Card Application is running on the host processor. Thus it is call „Host Card Emulation“.

The concept itself is not new. Blackberry provides this feature already since BB OS 7.0 There is also support for host card emulation in Cynogen Mode as reported earlier. Android will support ISO/IEC 14443, Type A (Type B is optional) for card emulation. Application developers are able to choose which AID their emulation card should use, which then is declared in the manifest file.

Although the applications are running on the host and therefore out of the secure element, this mode seams to be a suitable alternative for the UICC and the embedded secure element, especially for less secure applications such as loyalty or membership. But also payment applications are possible. In such a case the APDUs received from the reader terminal could be routed through the host card emulation to a server, which provides the payment credentials. In the case, payment service providers that allow storing payment credentials in the cloud (such as paypal) can use their means of payment for POS transactions. (which out dealing with all the TSM stuff). Hopefully HCE is now busting the NFC ecosystem.

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