Smart Card Talk : March 2011 : Member Profile

This month Smart Card Talk spoke with Joerg Borchert, responsible for Chip Card and Security for the region Americas for Infineon Technologies. Joerg Borchert was born in Hamburg, Germany. He studied Mechanical Engineering and Business Administration at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany. He achieved his PhD in Economics before he joined Siemens AG in 1988. Initially Joerg was on the staff of the Corporate Board of Directors handling Mergers & Acquisitions in Munich, Germany. In 1992 he joined Siemens Semiconductor which became Infineon Technologies in 1999.

Joerg moved to the US in 1998 when he was appointed Vice President. He worked for three years in the wireless division and has more than 10 years experience in the security and chip card semiconductor area. He was instrumental for the roll out of the German payment smart cards in 1996 and the success of the world’s largest electronic passport program in U.S. In 2008 he became VP and General Manager for the Business Line Government ID. The major success has been the business win of the German national ID card system in fall 2010.

Joerg took over the responsibility for Chip Card and Security for the region Americas in September 2010. He resides in the U.S. headquarters in Milpitas, CA. Currently he and his team are involved in semiconductor security solutions for the smart grid and mission-critical embedded systems. He contributed to four patent filings in this area.

He has one daughter and his favorite sports are sailing, skiing, mountaineering and playing beach volley with his daughter.

1. What are Infineon Technologies’ main business profile and offerings?

Infineon Technologies provides semiconductor solutions that address three major concerns of world society: energy efficiency, mobility, and security. The company’s chips are found in all types of automobiles (from conventional combustion to the new all-electric cars), industrial electronics, home appliances, gaming consoles, and PC peripherals, to name just a few of our customer categories.

Within its Chip Card and Security business, Infineon is a broad line supplier of hardware-based security, providing SIM chips, secure microcontrollers for payment, government ID, and platform security, and RFID chips for applications ranging from limited use ticketing to tracking library books. For more than ten years Infineon has maintained the number one position in the market (according to Frost & Sullivan) through continuous innovation in technology, product offerings, and packaging. Our direct customers include card manufacturers, systems integrators, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies.

2. What role does smart card technology play in supporting your business?

Since the chip is the very basis of smart card technology perhaps the more appropriate question is how do Infineon chips help support the business of others, both internal to the smart card industry and outside of it.

Beginning in the early days of the smart card industry which saw the introduction of prepaid telephone cards in Europe, Infineon has helped to shape the development of hardware-based security solutions. The company introduced the first 8-bit controller in 1990 and five years later a dual interface controller and module. Demand for more security and computing performance led to the introduction in 1998 of the 16-bit controller. Three years later a 32-bit controller family was introduced. Rapid technology evolution made things such as calculating advanced crypto algorithms possible on a smart card. Around that same time–2001–the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) was introduced, moving smart card technology into the platform space to harden desktops, laptops and servers.

In response to demand from the smart card industry for a more flexible supply chain, Infineon developed a new flash technology name SOLID FLASH. And to further harden secure chips from attacks the company introduced INTEGRITY GUARD, which employs full-chip encryption and other advanced technology to meet the security challenges of this decade.

3. What trends do you see developing in the market that you hope to capitalize on?

The trend to mobile payment and NFC is exciting. Technical solutions have reached a maturity which now allows for deployment. This market is poised to take off and we think 2011 will see the first large scale programs.

The second trend is related to payment and transportation. Infineon sees the necessity for open systems. Convergence of transport and payment on open payment deployments can foster the growth in this area.

Thirdly, we see new opportunities in the embedded space, especially in the North American market. U.S. government initiatives to make the Internet more secure are at the heart of digital security. It has a positive effect at the core of information technology systems as well as the edges, as addressed by the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC). These initiatives build on base technology developed by the smart card industry in different form factors and with modified application profiles for the core and, hopefully, at the edge it will also allow the adoption of smart card technology.

A very dynamic area for embedded security is the so called “Internet of Things” and initiatives surrounding development of a Smart Grid for electricity distribution. Both developments add enormous numbers of network connections and create a need for a well thought out security solution.

The fourth trend is somewhat opportunistic: security innovations to thwart adversaries who never stop. Therefore, security innovation and fast adoption is key to protection of assets in a highly networked society.

4. What obstacles to growth do you see that must be overcome to capitalize on these opportunities?

Infineon Technologies is a firm believer in open global standards. They are vital for the industry to grow. Closed systems worked in the last millennium but for true growth customers want solid, interoperable solutions which take advantage of market-driven competition and provide supply chain security. There is a place for strong proprietary technologies, but that place should be deep-down, where they do not impede the adoption, expansion of user interfaces, transaction execution, or transferability of a given solution to a related problem or customer. Therefore Infineon founded the OSPT (Open Standard for Public Transport) Alliance together with the industry partners INSIDE Secure, G&D and Oberthur. It shows Infineon’s commitment to open standards which we have already demonstrated in the past with the Trusted Computing Group (TCG).

5. What do you see are the key factors driving smart card technology in government and commercial markets in the U.S.?

Plain and simple, it is security. Who is that person trying to access the device or network? Cross that border? Make that payment? How do I know they are authorized? Properly designed and implemented, smart card technology can reduce the risk.

6. How do you see your involvement in the Alliance and the industry councils helping your company?

The Alliance is the principal driver in the market place to bring the message to the members, the industry, the government, and the public. The industry councils are beneficial forums in which to address questions of adoption, technology, and impact analysis to stakeholders. Infineon’s long standing participation in the Smart Card Alliance and our active engagement in several industry councils reflects the value we see in the Alliance and it activities.

7. Will payment smart cards ever be used in U.S. on a broad scale, i.e., adoption rate greater than 50 percent?

We think so, but the U.S. payment market is very specific and is of a decentralized nature. Therefore, several scenarios are plausible:

  1. The current system of background system based security will continue and can manage the security challenges of this decade.
  2. The deployment of smart cards based on EMV standards will occur, driven by cross border, merchant, and international travel demands.
  3. The U.S. industry jumps directly to the NFC model and therefore potentially reduces long term the need for cards at all.

More than likely, we won’t see a total alignment with any of these scenarios but rather a mix that shifts over time.

Member point of contact

Linda Brown
Business Development – Chip Card & Security
Infineon Technologies North America