MUNICH--Infineon Technologies AG here and Sony Corp. in Japan today announced plans to jointly develop secure ICs for contactless chip-card systems, which are used to authenticate and identify individuals in a range of applications, including online banking, electronic fares for public transportation, and security systems.
The two companies said they will combine Sony's contactless chip-card technology, called FeliCa, with Infineon's expertise in secure chip-card ICs to expand the use of contactless chip card market. Infineon and Sony said their joint-development pact covers multi-application cards, card terminals, and background infrastructure systems for data management.
The worldwide market for chip cards is expected to reach 4.5 billon cards by 2006 with about 25% of them being based on contactless technology, according to Infineon. In 2000, a total of 1.8 billion cards were shipped worldwide, according to Dataquest Inc.
Unlike contact-based chip cards--which require a physical interface between the card and a reader to transfer information--a contactless chip card contains a special transmission module for "over-the-air" data communication. This transmission module consists of a chip and an antenna embedded in the card. The card does not have to be inserted into a terminal's slot.
"Combining Sony's system know-how with Infineon's expertise in secure semiconductor solutions and manufacturing processes will provide the benchmark for contactless technology of the future," stated Hermann Eul, senior vice president and general manager of Infineon's Security & Chip Card ICs Business Group. "This agreement enables complete system solutions paving the way for powerful chip cards that combine multiple applications such as public transportation services, electronic purse systems and identification, as well as best-price loyalty programs."
Currently, more than 25 million contactless chip cards based on Sony's FeliCa technology have been shipped globally, according to the two companies. About 11 million contactless chip cards equipped with on-card-memory have been shipped in Hong Kong for public transport systems such as subway, bus and ferry. Japan Railway East will use FeliCa cards in about 400 stations in the Tokyo metropolitan area, starting in November, said Sony.
"Our cooperation will result in the application of this technology in transport systems, as well as in the finance and administrative fields," said Hiromasa Ohtsuka, president of Sony's Broadband Network Center. "We also plan to offer many new access-modes for Sony's FeliCa as a key network device for the future."