Nov 10, 2015

Toppan Printing’s inductive coupling-based dual interface card SMARTICS-AIR obtains MasterCard® certification
Original technology enables reduction in manufacturing workload and improved durability
Toppan Printing (hereafter Toppan Printing; head office: Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo; President & Representative Director: Shingo Kaneko) has developed and obtained MasterCard® certification for an original dual interface card called SMARTICS-AIR, which uses its patented inductive coupling technology and has both contact and contactless functions. In April 2016, Toppan Printing will begin offering smart cards using this technology to financial institutions in the Japanese market and supplying IC modules and antenna sheets (pre-lamination sheets) to card manufacturers in markets overseas.

SMARTICS-AIR is a new dual interface card with which the IC module mounted on the card and the antenna inside the card are coupled without contact by using electromagnetic waves produced between coils. Because coupling is achieved without any physical connection, there is no possibility of damage to such a connection between the IC module and antenna due to factors such as bending. This means that SMARTICS-AIR is much more durable than conventional products that employ a physical connection. In addition, whereas the manufacturing of dual interface cards has traditionally required dedicated equipment, this technology enables such cards to be produced without any additional investment in equipment, and improvement in production efficiency can therefore be expected.

Toppan Printing has original patents related to inductive coupling technology and has been licensing the technology in overseas markets since 2006, preceding sales in the Japanese market. Tens of millions of cards have been issued to date.
In light of expanding global demand for dual interface cards for financial payments and their growing popularity in the Japanese market, Toppan Printing has established its own manufacturing system for inductive coupling-based dual interface cards and also supplies IC modules and antenna sheets (pre-lamination sheets) to card manufacturers.

The SMARTICS-AIR solution will be on display in the Toppan booth at CARTES SECURE CONNEXIONS 2015, held from November 17 to 19, 2015 in Paris, France.

SMARTICS-AIR card (left) and its internal structure (right)
© Toppan Printing Co., Ltd.

- Background to development
While EMV migration to reduce illicit use of counterfeit payment cards has been completed in most advanced nations, including Australia and countries in Europe, it has been slow in the U.S., where magnetic cards still account for the majority of card-based payments. However, progress has been seen in the adoption of EMV technology in the U.S. since 2014, and the switch from magnetic cards to smart cards is advancing rapidly. Growth is anticipated for dual interface cards with both contact and contactless functions, and the worldwide market is forecast to exceed 1.8 billion cards in 2017.

Dual interface cards combining contact and contactless functions have been used for several years but manufactured by physically connecting the IC module and antenna. This has meant that the connection can be damaged when a card is bent or subject to other external impacts. Other issues, resulting from the need for dedicated equipment for manufacture, include the financial burden required for introduction and subsequent low productivity.
Toppan Printing has now used its inductive coupling technology to resolve these issues and enable the resulting products to be supplied in Japan and overseas.

- Features of SMARTICS-AIR
・Independently developed technology for inductive coupling-based dual interface card
Toppan Printing has employed its patented inductive coupling technology to develop an inductive coupling-based dual interface card.
・MasterCard® certification
The first SMARTICS-AIR product uses IC chips from STMicroelectronics, and MasterCard® certification been obtained. Acquisition of Visa certification within the year is also planned.
・No need for dedicated equipment
No additional investment in equipment is required because SMARTICS-AIR can be produced using conventional manufacturing equipment for contact smart cards.
・Considerable improvement in productivity
Because the production process is much simpler than for conventional dual interface cards with a physical connection, yield and production speed are vastly improved, making reductions in manufacturing costs possible.
・High durability
With conventional dual interface cards employing a physical connection between the IC module and antenna, bending and other impacts can cause the connection to be damaged. This does not happen with SMARTICS-AIR because there is no physical connection, and the durability of the smart card has therefore been improved.

- Future targets
Toppan Printing will expand sales of this product in Japan and overseas with a target of sales of approximately 5 billion yen in fiscal 2019. In order to increase the number of compatible IC chips, Toppan also intends to expand sales to businesses other than financial institutions.

* The names of companies, products, and services featured in this press release are the trademarks or registered trademarks of the respective companies.
* The information in this press release is current as of the date of publication and is subject to change without notice.

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