French secure-chip testing provider Fime says it has strengthened its technology for EMV and mobile payment certification through an agreement with Agilent Technologies.

Fime will initially operate as a reseller of Agilent's technology in telecommunications by incorporating the company's mobile payment measurement technology into Fime's secure-chip testing services, says Xavier Giandominici, director of Fime America.

"As certification requirements evolve within the payments sector, Fime will work with Agilent to advance the test systems in line with market needs," Giandominici says.

As the relationship between the two companies grows, Fime may acquire Agilent test tools and expand its laboratory offering into new markets.

Fime already has testing software that can evaluate secure elements, and Santa Clara, Calif.-based Agilent has experience in using similar tools in the evolving mobile payments marketplace. Advanced testing tools will be critical in helping U.S. businesses move toward the EMV standard, for which most face an October 2015 deadline set by the card networks, Giandominici says. Companies that miss that deadline face an increase in fraud liability.

The recent data breaches at U.S. retailers have prompted more card issuers and merchants to express interest in EMV-chip cards to improve security, but that doesn't mean they have the technology in place to do so, Giandominici says.

The process, which includes having terminals prepared to also accept Near Field Communication mobile payments, can be complex and lengthy.

Payments industry experts have encouraged merchants and acquirers to give themselves up to a year to complete testing and certification for the chip-based technology.

Fime's process includes reviewing all aspects of a transaction between the terminal and secure chip to confirm the payment applications residing on the chip will perform as intended and as stipulated by industry standards.

In November, Visa Inc. expanded Fime's testing role with the card brand. Fime also developed a contactless payment testing system for Discover.

Fime invests in and contributes to various industry initiatives, including the EMVCo Associates Program, the EMV Migration Forum, the Global Certification Forum, GlobalPlatform, GSMA, NFC Forum and the Oscar Consortium.

The organizations discuss and define the requirements of the marketplace and help Fime understand how its consultancy services need to advance to meet the needs of its customers, Giandominici says.

In the coming year, Fime expects to see emerging technologies offer additional security to mobile payments and other secure devices.

An example will be the trusted execution environment, Giandominici says. "This is a secure area that resides in the main processor of a smartphone, or any mobile device, and ensures that sensitive data is stored, processed and protected in a trusted environment," he says. 

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