The role of the Trusted Service Manager (TSM)

Extract from 2008 Winter Review magazine

One model that can address the business and operational  requirements for the successful mass deployment of mobile payment is to use an intermediary– a Trusted Service Manager (TSM). This approach, endorsed by the GSMA, has the significant advantage of rapid scalability. The main role envisaged for the TSM is to help service providers securely distribute and manage contactless services for their customers using the networks of mobile operators. However, the TSM does not participate in actual contactless transactions using NFC devices. These transactions are processed normally in whatever system the service provider and its merchant partners have already put in place. Another possible role of the TSM that can accelerate the successful deployment and ramp-up of mobile NFC applications is to act as a commercial intermediary that facilitates contractual arrangements and other aspects of ongoing business relationships between service providers and mobile operators.

Gartner foresees a prominent role for TSMs, and also underlines that by 2012, just 5 of them will share 80% of the NFC mobile transactions’ market*. Why? Because it is so complex. “The success of a TSM will depend on it having a strong reputation as a trusted service provider, as well as expertise in application integration, security and application management across different handset platforms.” In other words, many will play, but few will win.

TSM Key Functions

  • Interconnect with MNO & Service Providers
  • Guarantee end-to-end security
  • Application lifecycle management
  • Enroll new user
    Create Security Domain
    Download OTA c-less application
    Personalized OTA the application
  • Activate / Deactivate services
  • Update User Interface
  • Manage NFC customer database
  • Update EMV counters for payment
  • Value-added services such as ticket reloading and branding



* Gartner Dataquest Insight “Trusted Service Manager Role Will Facilitate Mobile NFC Services”, Sept. 2007.