PARIS–The official unveiling this week of the Open Standard Public Transport Alliance, which is developing an open security standard for mass-transit fare-collection systems, illustrates the type of broad collaboration needed to advance the payments industry, its participants suggest.
The nonprofit group will be based in Germany, and the open security standard it is devising will be called Cipurse, its organizers announced Dec. 7.
Four major payments-industry players, including chip manufacturers Infineon Technologies AG and Inside Secure SA and software developer and card manufacturers Giesecke & Devrient GmbH and Oberthur Technologies SA, early last year announced plans to join forces to create a secure standard for transit with cross-industry support.
The project gained momentum in recent months, and two additional members, Beijing-based Watchdata Technologies Ltd. and the Open Ticketing Institute of the Netherlands, joined the alliance this week, the organization said.
The alliance’s goal is to bring diverse payments-industry players together to develop a secure standard for contactless payment for transit ticketing, one of the fastest-growing and most-widely embraced forms of a tap-and-go payment worldwide, Tilo Pannenbacker, an Infineon vice president and general manager of the personal object ID business line, said this week.
The alliance is designing the standard to compete with Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors’ Mifare contactless-payment technology, Pannenbacker said. While Mifare is the transit industry’s dominant secure standard, it poses certain limitations for industry development primarily because it is proprietary, he said.
“The fact that rival chip makers and card manufacturers are coming together to form an alliance like this is a very important sign of how things are changing in the payments industry,” Pannenbacker said. “It will expand the options for everyone in transit ticketing, giving them access to the best technology we can develop on a cooperative basis and a wide array of suppliers and vendors,” Pannenbacker said.
A key alliance goal is to shape the new security standard to enable easy migration from existing transport-ticketing systems, the organization says. “Tranport systems are migrating to microcontroller-based schemes that are converging with adjacent applications and technologies such as open-loop credit and debit payment cards, micropayments, multiapplication cards and Near Field Communication mobile phones and devices,” the alliance said in a statement.
These new devices require a higher degree of security while transport agencies simultaneously are seeking flexibility to design systems to suit their specific needs.
The new standard will provide guidelines for developers in a “cookbook” format enabling transit agencies, system integrators and others to add functionality to meet specific market needs and differentiate their products, the alliance says.
Cipurse builds on existing, open standards such as the ISO 7816 smart card standard and on advanced encryption standards. The organization’s mission is to ensure the standard’s design provides cost-efficient protection against most known types of hacker attacks counterfeiting, cloning, eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks, the organization says.
Other observers have voiced support for the project.
“For a system integrator, the [alliance] holds the promise of providing greater product choices with richer capabilities than is currently available with proprietary systems,” Pradip Mistry, vice president of engineering at Cubic Transportation Systems Inc., said in a statement. Cubic’s transit-ticketing systems are used by transit agencies throughout the world.
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