Several mobile phone operators have started work on a common approach to short-range wireless technology that can be used for contactless transactions for ticketing and billing.

NFC (near field communications) enables any two devices to connect and exchange information or access services by bringing them together over a distance of less than 10cm.

One of the goals of the new project is to build on the secure billing and identity relations that operators have with their customers through the SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card, which is located inside the handset and contains a user's unique information.

Vodafone, Telefónica Móviles and China Mobile Communications are among the 14 GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) operators that have joined the initiative, according to the GSM Association.

Earlier this year, the German public transportation authority RMV (Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund) launched one of the world's first commercial wireless ticketing services based on NFC technology, in collaboration with Nokia, Philips Electronics and Vodafone.

But a broad rollout of NFC has been hampered by a lack of clearly defined NFC standards to ensure international interoperability, according to the GSM Association. Its NFC project aims to help create standards by developing business cases and user requirements that will be incorporated in a white paper for consideration by standardisation bodies, including the NFC Forum and Etsi, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute.

The NFC Forum, which promotes the standardisation and implementation of the short-range wireless technology, was launched by Philips and Sony, which jointly developed NFC. Additional information is available at the NFC Forum website.