Design Con 2015

Qualcomm readies smartphone NFC payment chip

December 19, 2012

Bernard Cole-December 19, 2012

Keeping an eye on its use in mobile smartphones, Qualcomm Atheros has developed a near field communications IC that will support mobile payments as well as contactless communications and data exchange.

The QCA1990 NFC chip has been tested to ensure it meets the requirements of payment schemes, mobile operators and OEMs globally and expects to be sampling it early next year followed by use in commercial designs in the mobile market by the third quarter of 2013.

The QCA1990 is desgined to be used with the company’s WCN3680 combo chip, which provides dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and FM radio communications. The chip also offers "platform-level" integration with the Snapdragon S4 application processor to enable NFC on smartphones and tablet computers.

The QCA1990 software stack has been designed for compliances with the NFC Forum Controller Interface (NCI) standard while its radio performance exceeds the requirements of the NFC Forum and EMVCo, which represents the major credit card companies Europay, Mastercard and Visa.

According to the company, the QCA1990 makes use of an antenna that is eight times smaller than current market offerings allowing cost savings for OEMs to integrate NFC at a significantly lower price point. The QCA1990 also offers a range of secure element options, both embedded and SIM-based including support for a dual-SIM configuration.

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