Streamlined design for EMVCo 3.0-compliant contactless payment terminal is based on PTX100R NFC reader and Renesas RA Family secure MCU, avoiding the need for a discrete Secure Element or a dedicated – and expensive – PoS system-on-chip

November 24, 2021

Graz, AUSTRIA and Tokyo, JAPAN – Panthronics AG, a fabless semiconductor company specializing in high performance wireless technology, and Renesas Electronics Corporation (TSE: 6723), a premier supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions, today announced a new design which provides manufacturers of secure mobile point-of-sale (mPoS) contactless payment terminals with a new way to reduce the size and the bill-of-materials cost of their products without compromising performance or security.

The companies are demonstrating the new mPoS design at the Panthronics stand 5.2 B041 at the Trustech exhibition (Paris, France, 30 November-2 December 2021).

The design is based on Panthronics’ PTX100R NFC Reader IC for contactless communication, and the Renesas RA6M4 general-purpose secure microcontroller (MCU). The RA6M4 MCU, which has an Arm® Cortex®-M33 CPU with TrustZone technology and integrated security IP, performs all the cryptographic, key management and other security functions required for compliance with the stringent Payment Card Industry (PCI) security standards and the EMVCo Level 2 standard for contactless payments. EMVCo Level 1-compliant software runs in the PTX100R.

This design based on a secure MCU offers substantial cost and size advantages over conventional mPoS terminal designs. Today, mPoS terminals feature either a combination of a general-purpose MCU with a discrete Secure Element, or a dedicated PoS-specific system-on-chip (SoC) with built-in security functions. The Panthronics/Renesas solution is superior to both:

  • It eliminates the need for a discrete Secure Element by implementing secure payment functions inside the RA6M4. This reduces bill-of-materials cost and saves space on the board. It also strengthens security, because the vulnerable communications path between a discrete Secure Element and host MCU is also eliminated.
  • The RA6M4 is a lower-cost component than a dedicated SoC, and is widely available with no security of supply concerns.

Markus Vomfelde, European Senior Manager for MCU Business Development at Renesas, said: “Security, cost and size are the key concerns for manufacturers of the next generation of mPoS terminals, as they battle for market share in a highly competitive market. By proving that an mPoS terminal based on a standard MCU can be fully compliant with all the relevant security and payment industry standards, Renesas and Panthronics have demonstrated a new way for terminal manufacturers to gain a competitive edge while meeting customer demand for security, functionality and performance. We are confident that with this solution, mPoS terminal manufacturers can achieve a BoM cost saving of at least 10% compared to typical designs in production today.”

Comprehensive design supports rapid new product development

The mPoS solution implements a comprehensive set of payment terminal functions, including EMVCo Level 1 and Level 2 ready software. This means that it provides an effective platform for terminal manufacturers to verify the concept’s compliance with the EMVCo standard, and to complete rapid design integration based on the hardware and software components supplied by Renesas and Panthronics.

The design includes a space-saving antenna which surrounds the display screen, a configuration which is only possibly because of the robust connectivity performance of the PTX100R card reader. The PXT100R’s unique sine wave architecture results in industry-best sensitivity and transmission strength, boosting the terminal’s signal-to-noise ratio and allowing for reliable coupling with payment cards or mobile phones in all usage conditions, and via an antenna placed close to an electrically noisy display. 

The solution consists of two boards:

  • EK-RA6M4 evaluation kit for the RA6M4 MCU
  • PTX100R reader/display shield board

The design is expected to be available to buy from Renesas as a complete evaluation kit in early 2022. Customers looking to begin designs immediately can contact Renesas sales directly.

About Panthronics

Founded in 2014, Panthronics AG (PTX) is an established semiconductor product company with over 40 staff headquartered in Graz, Austria. It develops differentiated wireless solutions from the ground up for POS, IoT and wireless charging applications. Panthronics’ website is at www.panthronics.com. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.

About Renesas Electronics Corporation

Renesas Electronics Corporation (TSE: 6723) delivers trusted embedded design innovation with complete semiconductor solutions that enable billions of connected, intelligent devices to enhance the way people work and live. A global leader in microcontrollers, analog, power, and SoC products, Renesas provides comprehensive solutions for a broad range of automotive, industrial, infrastructure, and IoT applications that help shape a limitless future. Learn more at renesas.com. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

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