Panthronics AG, a fabless semiconductor company specializing in wireless technology, and Renesas Electronics Corporation, a supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions, has announced a new design that provides manufacturers of secure mobile point-of-sale (mPoS) contactless payment terminals with a new way to reduce the size and the bill-of-materials cost of their products without compromising performance or security.
The design is based on Panthronics’ PTX100R NFC Reader IC for contactless communication, and the Renesas RA6M4 general-purpose secure microcontroller (MCU).
The RA6M4 MCU, which has an Arm Cortex-M33 CPU with TrustZone technology and integrated security IP, performs all the cryptographic, key management, and other security functions required for compliance with the stringent payment-card industry (PCI) security standards and the EMVCo Level 2 standard for contactless payments. EMVCo Level 1-compliant software runs in the PTX100R.
This design based on a secure MCU offers substantial cost and size advantages over conventional mPoS terminal designs. Today, mPoS terminals feature either a combination of a general-purpose MCU with a discrete Secure Element, or a dedicated PoS-specific system-on-chip (SoC) with built-in security functions.
The Panthronics/Renesas solution:
- Eliminates the need for a discrete Secure Element by implementing secure payment functions inside the RA6M4. This reduces bill-of-materials cost and saves space on the board. It also strengthens security because the vulnerable communications path between a discrete Secure Element and host MCU is also eliminated.
- The RA6M4 is a lower-cost component than a dedicated SoC, and is widely available with no security of supply concerns.
“Security, cost and size are the key concerns for manufacturers of the next generation of mPoS terminals, as they battle for market share in a highly competitive market,” said Markus Vomfelde, European senior manager for MCU Business Development at Renesas. “By proving that an mPoS terminal based on a standard MCU can be fully compliant with all the relevant security and payment industry standards, Renesas and Panthronics have demonstrated a new way for terminal manufacturers to gain a competitive edge while meeting customer demand for security, functionality, and performance.”
Vomfelde added: “We are confident that with this solution, mPoS terminal manufacturers can achieve a BoM cost saving of at least 10% compared to typical designs in production today.”
The mPoS solution implements a comprehensive set of payment terminal functions, including EMVCo Level 1 and Level 2 ready software. This means that it provides an effective platform for terminal manufacturers to verify the concept’s compliance with the EMVCo standard, and to complete rapid design integration based on the hardware and software components supplied by Renesas and Panthronics.
The design includes a space-saving antenna, which surrounds the display screen, a configuration that’s possibly because of the reliable connectivity performance of the PTX100R card reader. The PXT100R’s unique sine wave architecture results in industry-best sensitivity and transmission strength, boosting the terminal’s signal-to-noise ratio and allowing for reliable coupling with payment cards or mobile phones in all usage conditions, and via an antenna placed close to an electrically noisy display.
The solution consists of two boards:
- EK-RA6M4 evaluation kit for the RA6M4 MCU
- PTX100R reader/display shield board
The design is expected to be available to buy from Renesas as a complete evaluation kit in early 2022.
Filed Under: Components, Consumer Electronics, News, Wireless