NXP announces Mifare4Mobile API spec, adds Mifare Plus and expands licensing deal with Renesas

Mifare4Mobile specifications will be released within months, making it easier for Mifare-based transit ticketing and other applications to be provided via a ticket holder’s mobile phone.

GOING API: First release will support Mifare Classic
GOING API: First release will support Mifare Classic

NXP has announced it is to release specifications for APIs (application programming interfaces) designed to make it easy to integrate Mifare technology with mobile NFC devices within the next few months, which will provide both mobile network operators and service providers with a single, interoperable programming interface for mobile Mifare services.

The Mifare4Mobile APIs are designed to manage Mifare-based mobile applications, from their over-the-air installation to the end-user interaction via the phone’s user interface.

“We recognise that enabling interoperability and extension to all stakeholders in the contactless ecosystem is critical to ensure widespread deployment of NFC,” explained NXP‘s vice president and general manager of NFC, Heikki Huomo. “As the leader in contactless chips and co-inventor of NFC, we are committed to driving the growth of contactless mobile services.”

“We are already seeing strong demand from mobile operators and service providers to roll-out new services, and access to the Mifare4Mobile APIs will speed development and help ensure seamless adoption of NFC devices in the vast Mifare infrastructure,” he added.

NXP is now working on the certification, compliance and robustness rules for the Mifare4Mobile specification, “in consultation with key NFC stakeholders”.

“Licenses for the use of the Mifare4Mobile APIs technology will be free of charge if used in conjunction with Mifare secure elements (both as UICC or embedded) sold by NXP or licensed by NXP,” says the company. (The specifications currently call for a GlobalPlatform-compliant JavaCard applet to orchestrate all Mifare services securely hosted in the mobile device). “The first release of the APIs will support Mifare Classic and will evolve to include Mifare Plus and Mifare DesFire to guarantee total compatibility with existing and new contactless infrastructures.”

The Mifare4Mobile APIs fall into three categories:

  • Wallet and user interface APIs. These are designed to ensure a consistent user experience, provide interoperability with other card formats and render card content on the phone screen in a convenient and flexible way.
  • Over-the-air and trusted service manager APIs. These are designed to allow OTA providers to access Mifare resources of any secure element in a consistent way and to ensure a uniform approach to Mifare application life cycle management.
  • Secure element platform APIs. These are designed to provide common access to the hardware resources of the Mifare portfolio.

The new Mifare Plus offers multiple levels of enhanced security, including 128-bit AES encryption and, unlike the existing high security Mifare DesFire, offers an easy migration path for existing Mifare Classic issuers.

Renesas, already a major player in the NFC space as Sony FeliCa’s chip supplier, has come out in support of NXP’s plans with an expansion of its existing Mifare license to include the whole Mifare product line. “This agreement is aiming to build momentum for the availability of advanced payment and near field communication offerings in contactless infrastructures,” says the official announcement of the licensing deal.

“The license agreement supports the industry’s need for extension of contactless applications to new form factors and will further strengthen Renesas’ global position in the secure MCU markets for high-end mobile and dual-interface banking applications. Renesas plans to provide a full range of security products with Mifare to meet the requirements of mobile and contactless payment industries worldwide,” it continued. “The agreement is set to drive the emergence of new and advanced over-the-air mobile phone services based on NFC, such as electronic ticketing and payment, delivering convenient and user-friendly connected services to consumers while allowing mobile network operators to increase average revenue per user.”

Yasushi Akao, a board director and executive general manager of Renesas’ MCU business group, explained the semiconductor company’s thinking: “The agreement with NXP is enabling us to cater to the further emergence of the worldwide contactless ecosystem, especially focusing on advanced applications for payment and mobile devices.”

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