Mass deployment of NFC chips tipped for Android devices

15 Feb 2011

Chip giant NXP Semiconductor has joined forces with security specialist Giesecke & Devrient to create a secure interface between Android handsets, NFC functionality and SIM cards.

The solution, unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, enables NFC to be integrated securely into mobile handsets based on the Android platform and other operating systems.

Leading mobile handset OEMs have already included the solution into the platform design of their Android-based mobile handsets planned for deployment in 2011 and in 2012.

“Since NXP co-invented NFC, we’ve been working with a range of ecosystem partners to help further adoption of the technology,” said Henri Ardevol, vice-president and general manager, secure transactions, NXP Semiconductors.

“Our aim is to ensure that NFC is flexible enough to support the needs of the entire ecosystem. Our collaboration with G&D and other key stakeholders provides our handset and mobile network partners the flexibility to incorporate NFC and the associated secure elements into their offerings in the most appropriate way, supporting their individual business needs.”

The validated software will meet the needs of mobile network operators who are specifically demanding secure elements within the handset.

First NFC-enabled Android handsets due in Q2 2011

The first Android handset supporting this enhanced functionality is expected to be launched during the second quarter of 2011.

The availability of an integrated secure NFC software solution within the NFC ecosystem represents a breakthrough for the future deployment of NFC-based services, which will offer consumers and the industry a vast array of mobile services, such as mobile payment and mobile ticketing.

This solution is based on the integration of NXP’s NFC controllers in mobile handsets with G&D’s secure software solutions, as well as its expertise in securing transactions via the secure element.

“As a leader in mobile security, Giesecke & Devrient has invested early in developing solutions for bringing secure access to SIM cards and other secure elements to Android platforms. In combination with our pioneering activities in secure NFC services, this has enabled us to offer complete solutions at a time when both the Android and NFC markets are booming,” explained Willem Bulthuis, senior vice-president global marketing and sales, mobile security, Giesecke & Devrient. “The NFC solution for mobile devices which we have now launched together with NXP is a key milestone in enabling mass roll out of the NFC services ecosystem.”

Orange and Deutsche Telekom’s NFC strategies

Android is the fastest-growing mobile operating system and the validation of G&D and NXP software will enable mobile network operators to capitalise on both the demand for Android-based phones and NFC technology by ensuring all mobile transactions facilitated by the handset remain safe and secure.

“Android phones appeal to a growing number of our customers. Orange announced last December ambitious plans to expand our Cityzi NFC ecosystem project and to roll out compatible SIMs and smartphones across Europe in 2011,” said Vincent Barnaud, head of mobile contactless, Orange.

“We encourage all initiatives that will enable Orange to offer contactless services to our customers who use Android phones. The efforts of NXP and G&D are fully in line with this direction.”

The new software-based secure NFC solution provides full flexibility to support all modes provided by the NFC technology. These include reading and writing to NFC smart tags, peer-to-peer data sharing, mobile payments and access control. The code is open source and is designed to provide full flexibility for integration in multiple platforms and usage with solutions from different suppliers.

“Deutsche Telekom will be launching first NFC services in core markets in 2011,” said Kerstin Baumgart, vice-president of business development, mobile products, Deutsche Telekom.

“As Android is becoming one of the leading operating systems, we are embracing the opportunity to deliver contactless services with a compelling user experience on Android-based terminals. We actively support all activities driving open standards to get necessary scale in the market,” Baumgart said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years