ST54K single-chip NFC controller and secure element combines with Thales secure OS in embedded SIM, transit ticketing, and digital car-key applications

STMicroelectronics has revealed that its ST54K IC is handling control and security for contactless NFC communication in the newly launched Google Pixel 7 smartphone.

Chosen by Google’s designers, ST’s device combines NFC control and a certified Secure Element in a single chip that is claimed to save space and simplify handset design. Containing proprietary technologies that enhance NFC contactless sensitivity, the ST54K was apparently selected to ensure the most reliable connectivity, deliver excellent contactless user experiences, and ensure the highest contactless transaction security.

For Google’s Pixel 7, ST has combined the ST54K with the mobile secure operating system (OS) by Thales. The OS meets the highest security industry standards and supports convergence of the embedded SIM (eSIM) with other secure NFC applications into the same ST54K secure element.

Marie-France Li-Saï Florentin, Microcontrollers & Digital ICs Group Vice President, Secure Microcontroller Division General Manager, STMicroelectronics, commented, “Google chose the ST54K for its excellent performance, low power, and robust security that meets the highest CC EAL5+ assurance. As a result, it ensures the best possible user experience and protection for contactless transactions.”

Emmanuel Unguran, SVP Mobile Connectivity Solutions, Thales, added, “The combination of ST’s ST54K with our secure OS and personalization capabilities provides a certified and evolutive solution for smartphones to support diverse digital services. These include embedded SIM for instant connectivity, and digital wallet services, such as transit ticketing and digital car keys. It is also the first in the Android ecosystem to support the eSIM Multiple Enabled Profiles.”

Google Pixel 7 arrived in the marketplace on October 7. ST believes that it’s ST54K single-chip NFC controller and secure element, combined with Thales’ secure OS, now represents a proven solution for reliable and high-performing contactless functionality in Android handsets and is available to all OEMs without restriction.

The solution jointly developed by ST and Thales lets the Google Pixel 7 support the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) Digital Car Key Phase 3 specification. ST says that the handset therefore provides the functionality needed for users to safely digitalize their car key into the phone, protected by the ST54K Secure Element. In addition, ticketing standards such as FeliCa™ allow Pixel 7 users to access public transport with their phone.

Support for the eSIM Multiple Enabled Profiles allows convenient dual-network connectivity, relieving reliance on what ST describes as ‘cumbersome physical SIMs’. With this, users can simplify managing two mobile network operator subscriptions to separate billing for personal and work calls on the same handset, for example, or ease access to services while traveling.

Meeting the Android Ready SE (secure element) requirements, the combination of ST54K and Thales secure OS will also provide to Android phone designers a StrongBox-ready solution available from early 2023.

The ST54K meets all NFC standards, including ISO/IEC 18092 active and passive peer-to-peer mode, Reader/Writer mode in accordance with NFC Forum™ tag specifications and ISO/IEC 15693, and ISO/IEC 14443 Type A & Type B card emulation mode.

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