If you follow the sensor and microelectronics business, you may know that ams and STElectronics are top-flight companies and strong rivals. But they announced at Mobile World Congress that they’ve teamed up for just this one thing: mobile payments.
ST has a secure element that stores and encrypts payment data. ams has a lot of skill in antenna and NFC technology. So they have teamed up to build a system that uses both ams and ST chips to extend the range of NFC payments while holding down the cost of antennas.
Execs from both companies showed a demonstration board with a standard NFC payment terminal, showing a range of about four inches from the front, about two inches from the back and allowing successful payment from either side. Generally, payment range with NFC is under 1 inch on a direct axis and not at all successful from the side. Also, antenna size was greatly reduced, to about 1 centimeter squared.
A particular application they talked about was transit payment, where speed and convenience is paramount; no one wants to stand at a turnstile and struggle with tapping a wristband or phone to a payment terminal while people are pushing from behind.
The companies, as is their custom, declined to say who their customers were, although they said they expected the technology to find its way to the consumer market before the end of this year.