NXP and G&D confirm joint Android NFC secure element interface

NXP Semiconductors and Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) have confirmed that the two are working together on the development of Android NFC solutions for handset manufacturers, as uncovered earlier this week by mobile and NFC experts Dr Gerald Madlmayr and Christian Kantner.

The two companies have announced today the full validation of a joint software solution offering secure interfaces between Android handsets, NFC functionality and secure elements such as the SIM card. “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,” say the partners.

In a guest article for NFC World earlier this week, Madlymayr and Kantner outlined how they had found evidence that G&D was likely to have contributed to the development of the Google Nexus S, which incorporates an NXP NFC controller, and explained how they had built a Nexus S that could could function in the card emulation mode needed for mobile payments applications.

“This solution enables NFC to be integrated securely into mobile handsets based on the Android platform and other operating systems,” the companies explain. “In addition, the validated software will meet the needs of mobile network operators who are specifically demanding secure elements within the handset. 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,” they add.

The solution is based on the integration of NXP’s NFC controllers in mobile handsets with G&D’s secure software solutions, as well as on G&D’s expertise in securing transactions via the secure element. “The new software-based secure NFC solution provides full flexibility to support all modes provided by the NFC technology,” the partners explain. “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.”

“We’ve been working with a range of ecosystem partners to help further adoption of the technology,” says NXP’s Henri Ardevol. “Our aim is to ensure that NFC is flexible enough to support the needs of the entire eco-system. 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.”

“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,” adds G&D’s Willem Bulthuis. “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. 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.”

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

NXP scored a major coup in December 2010 when it was able to announce that its PN544 NFC controller chip is being used in the first NFC Android phone, the Google Nexus S, and that it had a strategic collaboration in place with Google for the development of NFC Android technology.

Last week, rival NFC controller supplier Inside Secure began the task of trying to convince the industry that NXP is not the only game in town when it comes to adding NFC functionality to Android mobile phones with the launch of version 4.2 of its open source NFC protocol stack. This solution, says the company’s Philippe Martineau, “has tremendous cost, time-to-market and flexibility advantages for NFC chip vendors, smartphone manufacturers and software developers who would otherwise have to contend with rewriting the hardware-specific elements of the Gingerbread NFC protocol stack.”

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