Renesas and Panthronics partner for secure mobile PoS terminal design

Fabless semiconductor company, Panthronics has partnered with Renesas Electronics and announced a design which provides manufacturers a space-saving, cost-efficient, secure mobile point of sale (mPoS) contactless payment terminal.

The design is based on Panthronics’ PTX100R NFC reader IC for contactless communication and the Renesas RA6M4 general-purpose secure microcontroller (MCU). The RA6M4 has an Arm Cortex-M33 CPU with TrustZone technology and integrated security IP. Its role is to perform 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 IC. 

The design offers substantial cost and size advantages compared to conventional mPoS terminal designs, says Panthronics. Typically, mPoS terminals feature either a combination of a general-purpose MCU with a discrete secure element, or a dedicated PoS-specific SoC with built-in security functions. This design 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, says Panthronics, because the vulnerable communications path between a discrete secure element and host MCU is also eliminated. 

Another benefit is that 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”. He says that this design can enable mPoS terminal manufacturers to achieve a BoM cost saving of at least 10 per cent compared to typical designs in production today.
The design includes a space-saving antenna which surrounds the display screen. This is only possibly because of the robust connectivity performance of the PTX100R card reader, says Panthronics. The PXT100R’s 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. 

The design consists of the EK-RA6M4 evaluation kit for the RA6M4 MCU and the PTX100R reader / display shield board. It is expected to be available to buy from Renesas as a complete evaluation kit in early 2022. 

The mPoS design can be seen at the Panthronics stand (5.2 B041) at the Trustech exhibition in Paris, France, 30 November-2 December 2021.

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