Smart card manufacturers Giesecke & Devrient GmbH (G&D) and Oberthur Technologies S.A., and chip suppliers Infineon Technologies AG (FRANKFURT: IFX) (OTCQX: IFNNY) and Inside Contactless S.A. today announced they have launched an industry initiative to provide a new security solution for next-generation smart card-based public transport applications.
The solution will build on an open standard now being implemented by the four partner companies, which will eventually be governed by an independent body. Companies active in the smart card arena -- providers of chips, smart cards, application-specific operating software, reader devices and transportation systems -- are invited to join the initiative for the advancement of more secure public transportation applications.
The new standard promises to bring a number of key benefits to both public transport agencies and smart card industry players, including higher performance and advanced system security for public transport applications, as well as the availability of multiple sources for chip products. Through independent testing, the open standard will also provide optimized interoperability to enable simple and fast integration into public transport schemes. The first emulation chips and transportation smart cards using this standard are scheduled to be available by the end of 2010.
The industry initiative is based on groundwork performed by Infineon, the world's number one chip card IC (integrated circuits) provider. Infineon has developed a hardware-based security system specifically suited for public transportation smart card applications. It is comprised of a specific authentication scheme using the open and well-accepted Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with 128-bit key length and file types and command sets based on the ISO/IEC 7816 standard. Employing AES, an encryption algorithm also used for commercial transaction, will significantly increase security over less-robust security schemes widely used in current public transportation systems. Using the encryption and secure messaging scheme for authentication, data encryption and Message Authentication Coding (MACing) allows high flexibility and fast adoption for different applications. Infineon, which has already started its own chip development based on the open standard security system, has verified the feasibility of the authentication scheme, enabling the other manufacturers to start their development work immediately.
The fabless semiconductor company INSIDE Contactless, the world's largest chip provider for contactless payment cards, has already signed an agreement with Infineon to implement the security scheme for its chip platforms. In addition, two of the world's top three card manufacturers, G&D and Oberthur Technologies, have already agreed to develop public transport applications based on the scheme.
"INSIDE Contactless is proud to be among the initial partner companies of this new initiative, and we are eager to contribute our experience and develop products for this effort as an advanced, open standard is very much needed especially for higher value transport smart cards, which might eventually converge with payment cards," said Remy de Tonnac, CEO at INSIDE Contactless. "With the convergence of contactless payments and transit fare collection in contactless smart cards and NFC enabled mobile phones, INSIDE envisions implementation to the open security standard across all our product lines."
"We see a strong trend towards convergence of secure solutions for transit, between tickets and mobile phones with NFC, and between transit and other payment schemes. As a major player in all these markets, G&D is committed to play a key role in achieving open standards needed to support this convergence. This initiative provides an attractive alternative to existing technologies, and G&D will fully support it with its application security expertise," outlined Willem Bulthuis, CTO and Group Vice President of Giesecke & Devrient.
"Oberthur Technologies has always supported open standards. As a major actor in the public transportation market segment, we will actively participate in this initiative which aims at delivering increased interoperability and security at lower cost. This open standard will facilitate the deployment of transit systems using multiple end-user devices including multi-application payment cards and NFC phones," said Frédéric Chevreton, General Manager of the Payment and Transport Product Line at the Card Systems Division of Oberthur Technologies.
"This initiative of four smart card heavyweights sets forth a new open platform with enhanced security compared to current solutions in public transportation, one of the fastest growing smart card segments," said Dr. Helmut Gassel, President of the Chip Card & Security Division at Infineon Technologies. "Open systems provide global interoperability of reliable components from multiple sources under fair and reasonable business terms. Infineon contributes contactless excellence and tailored security with the right level of security at best cost-performance ratio to help to advance both current and future transportation applications."