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Taiwan Chip Company Supplies NFC Technology to Low-Cost Phone Maker

Taiwan-based chip maker MStar Semiconductor announced today it is supplying NFC technology to Russia-based phone maker Fly for one or more handsets for the European market to be released as early as next month.

MStar said the first phone would be available in the UK market in February, apparently targeted for the enterprise market for NFC workforce management applications.

Neither MStar nor Fly released the type of NFC models planned for Europe. Fly mainly produces low-cost feature phones for developing markets, such as Russia, other Eastern European countries, and India. It has a few Android models in its portfolio.

“We believe this commercial-focused smartphone-like feature phone integrating NFC technologies will play a critical role for enterprises to improve managerial efficiency,” said Suresh Radhakrishnan, group CEO of Fly, in a statement. “Moreover, we also expect handset solutions with NFC-related applications integrated will be extensively deployed in various mobile-payment consumption markets.” The company was not immediately available to respond to questions from NFC Times.

But MStar indicated the Fly phone or phones for the United Kingdom next month and other Northern European countries in the second quarter will support such NFC workforce management applications as time and attendance. There was no mention of secure element support on the phones.

“With this innovative cross-platform handset application integrating MStar’s mobile communications solutions and advanced RFID technologies, enterprise users can obtain extensive attendance records and real-time information,” MStar said in its announcement.

MStar supplies NFC technology for one phone model supporting China UnionPay's microSD-based mobile-payment application. The model is made by Chinese phone maker K-Touch brand, NFC Times has learned. UnionPay launched the application in a small regional project in Chongqing in the fall, using a specially equipped phone from Taiwan-based HTC. It is expanding the service this year, and has the support of the large China Construction Bank.

The chip-maker specializes in application-specific ICs, or ASIC chips, for various devices, such as LCD monitors, TVs and set-top boxes. It also supplies chips to mobile phones, and has recently added NFC chip technology. The company said it also offers other wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS.

A short article in Taiwan-based DigiTimes said MStar Semiconductor expects orders for chips in NFC-enabled phones will “buoy” sales in 2012.

“We have demonstrated our strong cross-platform capabilities by successfully expanding end-product applications of NFC technologies to both consumer and commercial markets,” said MStar chairman Wayne Liang in a statement, adding that the company would continue to assist customers with “more comprehensive NFC-embedded mobile communication solutions.”

The NFC technology MStar supplies to Chinese phone maker K-Touch in China supports a single-wire protocol connection to the microSD card. The microSDs can store UnionPay’s PBOC 2.0 contactless application. The single-wire protocol, or SWP, connection to the microSD is not yet standardized, as it is for SWP-enabled SIM cards, but enables banks to go around mobile operators to launch mobile payment. Standards organizations are working on the so-called SWP-SD global standard.

 

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