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Smartphones gain novel apps using digital ID, NFC

Posted: 23 Mar 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NXP Semiconductor? smartphone? Mobile ID? NFC? NXP?

At the 2015 recent Mobile World Congress (MWC), a number of mobile digital ID solutions were unveiled. However, several traditionally PC-based technology is challenging for an increasingly mobile world.

Quite a few existing systems rely on the presence of smartphones to unlock devices. Chrome OS uses Bluetooth connection to an Android smartphone or tablet to unlock a Chromebook and Chromebox. Using mobile identification in this fashion is difficult as many people do not have access to a laptop or desktop computer, or they share one with others and don't want to install a digital ID on it.

In cities such as Barcelona where cellphone penetration is over 100 per cent, smartphones are the best recipients for a digital ID as they are usually not shared and are often close at hand. The city of Barcelona introduced its MobileID application in September 2013, and has been adding new services to it ever since. At present, Barcelona residents can use the app to access several city services, pay taxes, and request resident certificates and permits. The city also makes the MobileID API available to third parties, such as financial institutions, to provide additional services where securely identifying the user is critical.

The security platform supporting this ID meets national and international legal and technical standards that are transparent to citizens, who interact only with their mobile phone application.

Secure solutions for mobile devices

Secure solutions for mobile devices.

NXP Semiconductor made play following this mobile ID trend just after MWC, announcing the acquisition of Athena Smartcard Solutions (SCS), a leader in security systems for corporations and governments. Athena provides smartcard cryptographic systems embedded in electronic passports, ID cards, driver's licenses and other forms of authentication.

"Athena has demonstrated a clear aptitude for developing leading-edge embedded software and cryptography in a wide variety of secure connectivity solutions," said NXP's Steve Owen, EVP of sales and marketing. "The acquisition will further strengthen NXP's offering in providing secure solutions across a multitude of applications in the areas of IoT [Internet of Things], industry 4.0, automotive and identification."

By combining the two companies' technology, NXP can start offering comprehensive solutions based on their near field communication (NFC) and Athena's cryptographic technologies.

A strong electronic ID in a mobile format is a very compelling proposition for governments, banks, security firms and other service providers that require certification of a person's identity. Mobile identification could actually be one of the driving forces behind NFC adoption in smartphones.

NXP did not announce any products that will be immediately available following this merger.

After Apple finally adopted NFC, on the iPhone 6 series and the Apple Watch, as the de-facto standard for mobile payments, it is expected that over a billion smartphones with NFC technology will ship this year. The next step is developing the infrastructure, applications and services to enable users to make the best of their devices.

- Pablo Valerio
??EE Times

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