Sony Corp. and NXP Semiconductors have reached basic agreement on forming a joint venture to develop, manufacture and sell chips that combine Sony’s Felica and Philips’ Mifare contactless smartcard platforms. NXP was spun off from Philips in Sept. this year.
Mifare is widely deployed around the world with about 1.2 billion chips and more than 7 million reader modules sold while shipments of Sony Felica chips have reached 170 million, of which about 30 million are in cell phones. Many of the remainder are used in transportation passes and security cards.
The two systems are incompatible so a chip combing the two and other formats could help drive adoption of contactless smartcard systems for applications and make possible terminals that would work on systems based on both formats.
In particular, the two companies hope to develop a universal contactless IC platform for cell phones. That would mean that advanced features in cell phones, like electronic payment, are able to work across borders where different platforms might be in place.
Under the terms of a memorandum of understanding the two companies will establish the joint venture by the middle of next year, they said in a joint statement.
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