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Near-field communication (NFC) technology has seen quite a bit of hype over the past year, but many companies have been taking a wait and see approach with NFC because it’s difficult to manage and still unproven with consumers.
Sequent, a Redwood City, Calif.-based startup launching today, aims to spur on the adoption of NFC with its platform, which makes it easy for any company to implement and manage NFC in their apps. By simplifying the implementation process, Sequent says, its platform will help to make companies less afraid to make the jump to NFC, which will ultimately lead to consumers becoming more familiar with it.
“Today, we’re launching a solution that unlocks the potential of NFC,” Sequent CEO Drew Weinstein said in a statement. “Our platform was built from the ground up to capitalize on the evolution of the physical world to the mobile world. We don’t have to play by the same rules as the legacy providers and our technical innovation and business model reflect this.”
Sequent’s platform specifically focuses on managing the secure element within NFC chips, which typically houses confidential data like credit card information. The secure element is what makes NFC such a promising mobile payment tool, but it’s also tough to manage — which has likely scared many companies off from adopting the technology.
For example, Home Depot could use Sequent’s platform to add checkout capabilities to its existing mobile app. That would allow Home Depot to keep users on its existing app, and consumers won’t have to worry about hunting down and learning something new.
Sequent’s platform could be the answer many have been looking for, especially since it supports multiple secure element types and data, including loyalty payment, or transit information. The company doesn’t deal with NFC credential management, choosing instead to leave that up to existing credential managers like credit card companies.
In an interview with VentureBeat last week, Weinstein said that Sequent is the first company to focus exclusively on secure element management. He noted that the company developed its platform with consumers in mind — after all, NFC is practically worthless unless companies can convince consumers to jump on board. That means there need to be killer NFC apps that will convince consumers to buy NFC-equipped phones (now just a few Android models, like the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S have NFC).
The company also has a white label mobile wallet available, which lets companies build NFC-equipped mobile wallets of their own. (Check out the video demonstration below.)
Weinstein says Sequent ran a pilot earlier this year with a major carrier and bank. The company competes directly with other mobile wallet initiatives like Isis and Google Wallet, as well as with mobile payment companies like mFoundry.
Sequent was founded in 2010 and has received funding from Opus Capital and SK Telekom Ventures.