Infineon provides security chips for South Africa’s largest government smart card project

Infineon Technologies supplies the security chips for the largest government smart card project in South Africa. Through Net1 UEPS Technologies, the government body “SASSA” (South African Social Security Agency) is issuing biometricallysecure EMV/UEPS debit chip cards for financial transactions of social grants across all of South Africa’s nine provinces. Infineon provides its SOLID FLASH™ SLE 77 security controller to Net1’s subsidiary Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), a leading payment service provider in South Africa, who is responsible for implementing this service for SASSA. 



The project started in April 2012. Net1 began issuing the first smart cards in June. The new smart card enables more than ten million South African citizens to securely receive their social grants on the issued chip cards with less administrative expenses. 

The application is based on Infineon’s SOLID FLASH SLE 77 security controller equipped with asymmetric data encryption. This allows secure storage of data and identification of the card holder by fingerprints stored on the chip. The smart card system is based on Net1’s Universal Electronic Payment System, or UEPS, which is a biometric payment technology designed to provide financial services to citizens without access to a bank account. 

SOLID FLASH products are offering significant value add like increased logistic flexibility and faster time to market. The market benefits from fast prototyping, sampling and programming. In addition, Infineon’s SOLID FLASH products offer security features such as encryption of the flash memory as well as a specific flash loader mechanism for secure flash memory programming and effective locking.

With Infineon’s SOLID FLASH product, we were able to reduce the time to market significantly which would not have been possible with ROM-based products,” says James Sneedon, Head of Chip and Card business unit at Net1. “Besides, Infineon SOLID FLASH products provide at least the same strong security and reliability as masked ROM products.” 

“MASK ROM based smartcard products won´t be able to fulfill the future challenges in government and payment projects at a competitive total cost of ownership,” says Carsten Loschinsky, Vice President & General Manager Government ID of the Chip Card & Security Division at Infineon Technologies.Therefore, they will be substituted by SOLID FLASH products based on Infineon`s state-of-the-art EEPROM/FLASH technology. This development started with Infineon leading the way and will demonstrate significant added value and advantages for our customers such as Net1.

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