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Smartcards for 2 billion

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Deepak Agarwal,
Senior Manager, Technical Marketing,
Secure Micros STMicroelectronics, India

Tell us about key focus area of STMicroelectronics and the broad range of applications  in Banking, E-ID/e-Government, IT Security, Telecom, Transport etc.

With a population of more than 1.2 billion & various e-Government initiatives for the security & benefits of the citizens is instrumental in driving smartcard growth. Government social sector initiatives such as Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), PDS (Public Distribution System) already uses the smartcard technology to ensure efficient implementation & benefit reaches to the poor people. As of today, already 35 million active smartcards are provided to BPL families under RSBY. Already a pilot project of providing Smartcard having biometrics for identification is taken by RGI, India in selected coastal states of India. It covered about 12 million people living along the coastline of 9 states and 4 Union Territories in the first phase of the project. Many states have already migrated from paper based driving license to smartcard based driving license. The smartcard can hold not only the license data but traffic police could also enter data related to traffic violation. Therefore, there are many areas where major programs are already in progress to upgrade existing solution to smartcard based solution. Recently, after mandate from RBI, the migration is happening from magnetic strip banking cards to chip card. We have a complete range of secure MCUs to cover every aspect of large-scale, government- level & programs. ST offers governmental projects all the benefits of a complete and extensive range of secure microcontrollers. These are based on advanced 0.13 μm and 90 nm EEPROM technologies, and support the specific requirements of security, reliability, speed and flexibility in interfaces, interoperability and tight roll-out deadlines Similarly on the banking side, we have a broad product range including contact and contactless products, for SDA or DDA applications, provides flexibility and security to yours designs. The ST23 platform is already widely adopted in banking across the world and has been certified by EMVCo, Common Criteria (EAL5+ /EAL6+). Our latest products based on ARM SecurCore® SC000 CPU and architecture optimized for contactless performances, the ST31 offers a broad range portfolio including MIFARE® DESFire® libraries, multiple interfaces and certified crypto libraries.

2. How the adoption of smart card in various sectors would boost the Indian semiconductor market?

 A smart card contains a tamper resistant microcontroller chip & secured memory, having counter measures against various attacks. It is difficult to forge or copy & can store data securely. ST’s secure-microcontroller platforms rely on a highly-secure architecture combined with leading edge CPUs, such as ARM’s SC300 and SC000, and advanced embedded non-volatile memory technologies. Therefore, adoption of smartcard technology will help to boost the overall semiconductor market in India.

Multi-application smart cards have changed the concept of business in India. Tell us about it.

 Imagine a scenario, where person have to carry various smartcards for National ID, RSBY, Ration card etc., it will be much easier to have one single card with various application. Smartcard technology provides the flexibility to have various applications on a single card. One very such common application in other countries is to have banking & transport in a single smartcard. However, the key challenge is the collaboration between different bodies providing the services.

What role can smart cards play in enhancing security network?

 Traditionally, smart cards are used in ID, banking, transportation which is using standard smartcard form factor. We see emergence of new applications to provide embedded security into different type of devices, mobile phone, PC, printers & so on. For this type of application, ST brings the complete system-on-chip solutions which include software too along with hardware. We offer complete solution for Near Field Communication (NFC) & related secure element (SE) for mobile phones/ tablets, Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for PC/laptop security, USB token for secure secured Internet banking transactions as part of e-Commerce & Machine to machine (M2M) communication. Our secure microcontrollers cover a complete range of interfaces for both contact and contactless communication, including ISO 7816, ISO 14443 Type A& B, NFC, USB, SPI and I²C.

5. What kind of work are you doing with the government sector? How is your experience working with the government agencies?

 ST’s offer is based on over 20 years of hands-on, secure-MCU roll-out experience with governmental organizations worldwide – for example, health cards in France, Germany Switzerland and India, ID cards in Italy, Thailand, Spain, Malaysia, Brazil, Mauritania, Kazakhstan and Albania, e-passports in France, Poland, Kazakhstan, Albania. For the local Indian market, the chips are having the National Informatics Center (NIC) certified Indian Smart-Card Operating System (SCOSTA) & already supplying for various Government projects.

6. Tell us about your research programmes which are doing in India.

Having a large R&D Centre in India means ST has very strong on-the-ground local resources to undertake any large-scale research & development support needs. With more than 25 years of presence in India we have an intimate understanding of the local market and its needs.

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