An information resource containing hundreds of business and technical presentations, white papers, industry journals and newsletters written by leading smart card experts.


Vantage Point
A monthly perspective from leading experts on key issues in the smart card business
Understanding the Internet of Things
This year’s Consumer Electronics Show, CES2015, was dominated by the Internet of things (IoT) and wearable technology. Both have been receiving extensive coverage in technology media for some time and are even starting to make appearances in mainstream media. Is the attention that IoT and wearable technology are now receiving really justified or is it just hype inflating one or more bubbles which will eventually burst?
What Disruptive Innovation Means in the Identity and Payments Business
The Economist recently published an article explaining “What disruptive innovation means”1. This issue of Vantage Point explores the meaning of disruptive innovation in the context of the payments and identity business, what innovations are genuinely disruptive, how long they take to create disruption and what might be their expected outcome.
The Trend Towards Devaluing Data and the Impact on the Smart Security Industry
At the end of September, APSCA held the 5th Asian Payment Card Forum, this year hosted in Bangkok by the Thai Bankers’ Association. There were over 250 participants most of whom were banks, payment schemes and payment service providers. One of the most important issues discussed was the recent introduction of tokenisation into the consumer payments business. This issue of Vantage Point looks at why tokenisation will change the consumer payments industry and the possible impact on the supply chain for secure silicon.
Part 2 – Solving the “Spurious Chip” Problem in Asian Markets
Another issue discussed in the above-mentioned meeting called by the Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY) of the Government of India was the problem of “spurious/fake chips”. This is a recurring problem in India where some unscrupulous suppliers are shipping different products to those previously certified. Apparently some card manufacturers have been winning tenders with certified chips. Then during the actual delivery phase, the same card manufacturers are substituting certified chips with lower cost chips that have not been certified. In an APSCA forum earlier this year in China, a speaker from China UnionPay claimed to have noticed a similar problem with products delivered in China. The problem is not restricted to any specific secure IC product and can affect products with any type of NVM (ROM, EEPROM, Flash, etc), for payment or identity applications.
Part 1 - The Roadmap for Security IC Platforms for Smart Cards
Last December in Phnom Penh, APSCA organised the 10th Government Forum on Electronic Identity1, hosted by the Ministry of Interior of the Royal Government of Cambodia. As usual the forum had some interesting presentations and discussions with contributions from both government agencies and leading industry suppliers.
Removing Obstacles - The Implications of HCE on the Future of NFC
Since NFC technology was first launched in 2004, the first major obstacle to the development of NFC has been the dearth of NFC-capable devices. With shipments of NFC-capable mobile phones expected to exceed 400 million units1 or 500 million units2 in 2014 and 1.2 billion units1 in 2018, that first obstacle has been removed. There is general agreement that the focus is now on developing NFC applications and services that consumers want (while also driving consumer adoption).
Simplifying Mobile eID
In December I returned from Cambodia where APSCA organised the 10th Government Discussion Forum on Electronic Identity, which explored how government eID is evolving from 1st generation to 2nd generation schemes. A common characteristic of 2nd generation national eID card schemes is that governments are interested in enabling citizens to use their eID to identify and authenticate themselves in online transactions with both government and commercial service providers. One of the subjects discussed between government agencies and industry was how to extend government-issued electronic identity to the mobile devices which are increasingly the channel that citizens are using to access the Internet. The following brief perspectives on mobile eID were distilled from the presentations and discussions in the forum, particularly from the presentation1 made by Jens Bender, Senior Scientific Officer, eID Technologies & Smart Cards at the German Federal Office for Information Security, which raised many of the points below and provoked additional discussion between the forum delegates on these issues.
The Growing Importance of Data
In the smart security industry we are always concerned with data. Organisations issuing smart cards and smart devices to consumers for payment and identity services need to ensure that data is stored securely in those devices. But the quantities of data that we are typically focused on securing in smart devices are relatively small. If the data is stored in a chip in a smart payment card, ePassport or mobile phone, then we are usually talking about a maximum of a few hundred kilobytes, and probably a lot less than that. Despite the attempts of smart card manufacturers to sell chip card products that store large quantities of data, there has been little interest in products capable of storing megabytes so far. Although there is a renewed interest in multiple applications for smart cards, that is about storing program code and small amounts of data. Even government-driven requirements for storing multiple biometrics are not going to require megabytes of on-chip data storage.
The Business Case for NFC in Transport Revenue Management
In the first Vantage Point column we had fun looking at the business case for NFC mobile payments at the point-of-sale. Unfortunately, according to the 3 key criteria which we used, there didn't seem to be much of a business case for an existing payment card issuer to launch NFC mobile payments. Most of the banks that APSCA has met recently in China and Asia seem to have come to the same conclusion. But not all of them. There is at least one bank that claims to have a real business case for contactless cards and has already begun extending that to NFC mobile payments. One of the payment schemes claims to know of at least 2 other issuers with possible success stories and we will be exploring these in APSCA's 4th Asian Payment Card Forum which will be held in Kuala Lumpur on 16-17 October.
Alluring but Illusory - the Business Case for NFC Mobile Payments
When the introduction of a new technology is successful, it’s often because the new technology enables significant improvements to existing business processes, thereby lowering costs. Sometimes a new technology becomes successful because it enables new revenue opportunities. If the new technology also provides significant convenience to customers then its take-up is usually rapid and further boosts the cost reductions and revenue opportunities which brought about the original introduction.

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