Chips on cards by 2002

Infineon Technologies and Sony are to jointly develop secure integrated circuits for contactless chip card systems.

According to Infineon, this will make it the only manufacturer of chip card ICs that fully comply with the three contactless interface formats – Type A, Type B and Type C. These three formats differ in their protocols for data transmission.

The jointly developed ICs are slated to be available by the end of 2002.

Unlike contact-based chip cards that require a physical interface between the card and a reader to transfer information, a contactless chip card contains a special transmission module consisting of a chip and an antenna embedded in the card. Hence, the card does not have to be inserted into the slot of a terminal for the information on it to be read.

Infineon estimates the worldwide market for chip cards to reach up to 4.5 billion cards in 2006, about 25% of which are equipped with contactless technology. According to market research company Gartner Dataquest, worldwide chip card shipments totalled about 1.8 billion units in the year 2000.

Today, already more than 25 million contactless chip cards based on Sony’s contactless chip card technology have been shipped globally. About 11 million contactless chip cards – currently equipped with on-card-memory – have been shipped in Hong Kong for public transport systems such as subway, bus and ferry.

And, starting this month, Japan Railway East will use the Sony cards in about 400 stations in the Tokyo metropolitan area.