Smartcard & IoT Hardware Security by STMicroelectronics

Interview with Deepak Agarwal, Senior Marketing & Application Manager, Secure Microcontrollers, Asean, ANZ and India, STMicroelectronics


  1. In terms of technologies what are the key trends dominating the smartcard space?

    Deepak Agarwal, Senior Marketing & Application Manager, Secure Microcontrollers, Asean, ANZ and India, STMicroelectronics
    Deepak Agarwal, Senior Marketing & Application Manager, Secure Microcontrollers, Asean, ANZ and India, STMicroelectronics

The smart card based technology is already serving a wide variety of applications & are expected to support more as they become smaller, powerful & cheaper. The trend of the security in the market is showing 3 main steps :

The first phase was driven with the introduction of the smartcard at around 1995 mainly based on plastic card and micromodule package technology covering applications such as Telephony cards (T2G), ePurses ,banking, ID, SIM, Transportation & pay TV.

The second phase is showing 3 majors deployments

–  The growing demand for strong security in consumer goods  such as Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) for enterprise & Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for computers  as well as brand protection to avoid counterfeit peripherals.

– The Contactless and dual interface smart cards which provide ease of use & less transaction time continue to fuel growth in enhance security, reduce frauds, and allow future value-added applications to the end-user industries including banking, transportation, and government.

–  The use of mobile phones & wireless technology that further drive the introduction of embedded secure elements, eSIM, M2M & NFC enabled devices.

The third phase is directly linked to the connected world with Internet of Things & Smart driving. They further drive the need of secure element not only to communicate securely but also to authenticate the devices in a network. Data issued from objects involved in smart grids, smart cities, smart homes, smart industry, connected cars  must be trusted & more & more connected devices are now adopting solutions based on secure elements.

  1. As Smart Card market is evolving globally, how do you see the innovations in Smart Card segment in Indian market?

The fast adoption of the smartcard technology brings not only innovation in Security, semiconductor technology but also its adoption to provide security in the embedded system. Today, governments across the world recognize smartcards as a key tool in protecting international security, personal data, reducing fraud and improving service and information with citizens. In areas such as health, driving licenses, vehicle registration certificates are major programs already ongoing. Also, work is already in progress to upgrade existing passport solutions to smartcard technology.

Banking is another area where the increasing need for highly secure payment transactions drives the banking card market towards chip-and-PIN solutions. The contactless/dual interface trend is being confirmed and should be reinforced in the coming years: contactless payments facilitate small payment transactions and maximize adoption and user experience. NFC (near-field communication) technology is another technology at the heart of an expanding spectrum of easy-to-use, intuitive, contactless & secured payment applications using our mobile phones. Already Samsung Pay is launched in India which allows to link multiple credit, debit cards to payment application.

  1. Please brief us about your products in SmartCard segment

STMicroelectronics offers a complete secure microcontroller product line, enabling security in mobile, banking & ID, and IoT-connected devices ST’s secure microcontroller division portfolio focuses on three main vectors.

  • Banking & ID solutions for traditional smartcard businesses such as payment, people identification, transport, and pay TV.
  • Mobile security addressing SIM solutions for cellular connectivity in mobile, wearable and machine-to-machine (M2M) products, as well as secure solutions for near field communication (NFC & eSE) and Secure Driving in automotive applications.
  • Authentication covering brand protection, TPMs and strong authentication solutions for IoT networks
  1. What all new technology has ST brought in SmartCards ?

Throughout its 20+ year presence in security, ST has supplied the market’s most advanced technologies and solutions, with a continuous focus on innovation and the highest levels of security certification.

The key areas are as follows

  • ST31 contactless, dual interface secure microcontrollers are designed to enable secure and fast contactless transactions for banking, ID and transport applications.

ST31 secure MCUs support various multi-protocol RF interfaces enhancing multi-application versatility, ISO/IEC 14443 Type A, B and B’, NFC, ISO/IEC 18092 and Very High Bit Rate protocols are all available and Auto-detect mode allows automatic detection and dynamic adaptation of the device to the correct reader protocol.

  • ST54, ST21 & ST33 to cover various NFC modes as Reader/writer, Card emulation and Peer to Peer to address all the possible NFC use cases. The ST21NFCD chip features active load modulation for faster, smoother transactions & saves power, delivering better user experiences in mobiles, wearables, or IoT devices.
  • ST31 and ST33 platforms embed respectively the ARM® SecurCore® SC000 and SC300 processors that deliver outstanding computing performance and low dynamic power consumption which enables fast and reliable transactions. Software engineers can benefit from the industry-recognized ARM® development environment and from best-in-class code density.
  • ST33 offers large memory capacity up to 2 Mbyte, multiple communication interfaces & certified cryptographic libraries.
  • ST support a comprehensive set of packages which not only includes standard  form factors like  wafers, SIM modules, DFN but also very small form factors such as WLCSP packages for eSIM applications.
  • ST has been continuously investing in advanced technology R&D and is proud to control both R&D and production in-house. The latest ST’s Secure MCUs are based upon 40nm Flash technology, allowing to deliver advanced feature products at optimized cost to its customers
  1. Could you give a complete overview of ST’s products for Banking & ID segment
  • Banking

ST’s banking product family offers a complete portfolio of contact, dual interface and contactless (ISO/IEC 14443 Types A, B and B’, ISO/IEC 18092) ST23 and ST31 secure microcontrollers to support SDA or DDA markets as well as emerging wearable applications.
Having supplied the market’s most advanced technologies and solutions for over 20years, ST has solid references in the banking industry which helps explains why we have sold more than 2 billion secure MCU-based banking cards around the world.

Our STPay system-on-chip solution offers a comprehensive range of “ready-to-use” banking solutions, including Static Java, Dynamic Java and Multos OS -based solutions, covering a wide range of payment applications such as Visa, Mastercard, CUP, Amex, Discover, JCB, CPA and many other domestic brands.

To ensure a quick set-up of the personalization line, STPay products are compliant with EMV Card Personalization Specifications (CPS), which have been validated and supported by major personalization equipment suppliers such as Datacard (part of the CPV program).  Our STPay offer also include banking & transport application based on MIFARE® Classic®, MIFARE® Plus® and MIFARE® DESFire®.

  • Identification  

In over 20 years, more than 40 government institutions have adopted ST solutions to secure large-scale government programs representing more than 400 million Government & ID secure ICs delivered to date.

ST offers a broad range of contact, contactless and dual-interface secure MCUs dedicated to e-government applications. They integrate an enhanced crypto coprocessor that supports the BAC, SAC, EAC, and AA security features required by ICAO standards and allow very fast e-passport transactions.

ST’s Flash technology ensures flexibility for optimized inventory management and shortened production lead-times, helping reduce your time to market.

Key benefits include :

–          In-house ST development and manufacturing

–          Fast contactless transactions and programming using 32 bit ARM® core & supporting  Very High Bit Rate (VHBR) specifications

–          Enhanced reliability with 30 year data retention and more than 500,000 erase/write cycles

–          Advanced level of security, certified up to CC EAL6

–          40 nm Flash technology

–          Complete Hardware & OS solution availability.


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