NTT develops fast IC card for e-money systems

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) has developed an electronic money system using an contactless IC (integrated circuit) card that, the company claims, has the fastest payment processing time of any such system to date, the company announced on Thursday.

For the system, NTT adopted public-key cryptography technology, a two-key system which encrypts data using a public key and decrypts it using a secret key. This is the first use of public-key cryptography on a contactless IC card, according to Yuji Ikeda, a spokesman for NTT. A contactless IC card includes a small chip and antenna so that it just needs to be brought close to a sensor and not inserted into a slot like many current IC card systems.

The overall time to process a payment has been cut to 250 milliseconds, NTT said, through advances in the read/write equipment, and by using recognition algorithms which can preprocess information, or perform processing before it is needed, NTT said in the statement.

NTT is aiming the card primarily at public transport payment systems, where fast processing times are important. The company has also developed a system that allows the cards' stored value to be replenished using public telephones. NTT has 42,200 public telephones across Japan that operate with an earlier contactless IC telephone card.

The company has not decided when to commercialize the system, Ikeda said.

IC cards are regarded as one of the potential media for e-commerce, and payment systems using contactless IC cards have been recently adopted by several companies in Japan.

East Japan Railway Co., one of Japan's major railway operators, started a service that allows passengers to go through a ticket gate with a contactless IC card on Nov. 18. A larger group of companies, led by Sony Corp., is also developing the Edy contactless IC and some convenience stores began accepting the cards in November.

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