Signal boost chip gains design win in integrated NFC payment card

February 12, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
The CredenSE 2.10 is a stand-alone NFC microSD card – claimed as the first of its kind – that has achieved certification for Visa and MasterCard (EMV) mobile payments; Austrian mixed-signal chipmaker ams has secured a design win for its AS3922 Active Boost device in the card.

DeviceFidelity Inc. is using the ams RF technology along with an integrated antenna in its CredenSE 2.10 Near Field Communication (NFC) microSD card to enable secure, certified NFC transmissions between any mobile phone and contactless payment terminals from Visa and MasterCard.

The product is the world’s first NFC microSD card to achieve global payment certifications from both Visa and MasterCard without requiring external booster antenna or device specific attachments. Using the AS3922 from ams, an integrated NFC front end with Active Boost technology, CredenSE achieves a typical read range of 4cm when located in a mobile phone’s microSD slot.

The mobile phone is a notoriously difficult environment for RF and variations between phone models make it difficult to consistently achieve good performance. The stringent requirements for read range compatibility with payment terminals for payment applications cannot be met in small form factors such as SIM or microSD cards with a traditional passive NFC card emulation front end and simple planar antenna.

Earlier SIM and microSD designs therefore used an additional component such as an external booster antenna or external attachment to amplify RF communication between tag and reader. The use of such external antennas makes mass deployment impractical since it raises bill-of-materials while also increasing the complexity of handling distribution and support for a variety of different handset models.

The DeviceFidelity CredenSE 2.10 is the first commercially produced NFC microSD card that meets EMV standards using only an ultra-small antenna embedded in the card, making distribution and compatibility with hundreds of phone models possible with one easy-to-deploy microSD card.

This means that it can be used to transform any mobile device with a microSD card slot into a contactless payment device without any need for device specific external antenna or attachments. DeviceFidelity has been granted global patents for the design and functionality of such an NFC microSD with built-in antenna and active front end.

The certified solution has been achieved