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Microsoft Could be Preparing a Digital Wallet Service

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office just released a patent filing from September of last year, in which Microsoft describes a "Mobile Wallet and Digital payment" service.

The filing covers a "method that facilitates securing a wireless digital transaction" for "at least one of a good or a service." Microsoft refers to mobile devices that "can include at least one mobile payment card (m-card), wherein the m-card is created by establishing a PKC-secured link to an account associated with a form of currency." The link between a mobile device and a terminal is created via near field communication (NFC), Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or RFID.

Microsoft's "m-card" feature is similar to a virtual credit card whose data is transmitted to a payment terminal using upon request. Only a portion of the m-card is sent to and received by the payment terminal, which will then be authenticated the organization that issued m-card and associated it with "at least one of a bank, a credit card company, an investment fund, an online brokerage, a web site, a business, a company, or a financial institution." To authorize a transaction, a user may have to press "a physical input button that can initiate a password entry, a payment, or a password entry completion."

To protect users against fraud, Microsoft suggests a "next-generation secure computing base (NGSCB) with a secure boot mechanism and host a virtual machine (VM) environment," which works in combination with hardware that is compatible to specifications of the Trusted Computing Group (TCG). The company also notes that a m-card device would limit its "interaction with a keypad and/or a screen on the mobile device to a single virtual machine" and the technology may employ a threat detection feature that will leverage an "online clearing agent to alert at least one of a bank, [..] a mobile device service provider, a certifying authority, or the terminal component of a theft related to at least one of a portion of data on the mobile device".

There was no information whether Microsoft is implementing NFC-based digital wallets in its Windows products anytime soon, but it is now obvious that the company has the necessary technology to do so.