Broadcom hopes to integrate mobile payments in your next PC

The company hopes to expand mobile payments beyond stores with its latest product

Chipmaker Broadcom wants to increase the number of devices that can accept mobile payments with a new microcontroller for PCs and IoT products.

Smartphones and smartwatches with mobile payment functions are getting most of the attention, but increasing the number terminals that can process the payments is equally important. The chip Broadcom hopes will make that happen is its first microcontroller with NFC, the short-range technology that make wireless payments possible.

The BCM58100 is designed for mobile payments terminals, PCs and home automation products, according to Broadcom. Integrating the chipset in PCs would let users hold their smartphone or smartwatch against a laptop instead of enter card details to make a payment, just like in a store. It has been designed to keep costs and circuit board footprint down, both prerequisites for it to be integrated in other products than payment terminals.

With PC sales slowing, manufacturers may be tempted to take a bet on Broadcom's chip to make their PCs stand out, while for Samsung Electronics and Apple, it's a way to tie together their smartphones, smartwatches, laptops and payments systems in one ecosystem.

Getting the security right on products that aren't as tightly controlled as payment terminals will also be a challenge, but Broadcom said its microcontroller is compliant with FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) as well as PCI (Payment Card Industry) and EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) certifications.

A survey from research firm Phoenix Marketing International published this week highlighted that mobile payments are still in their infancy. The survey found that 68 percent of respondents who have used Apple Pay had encountered an issue when making an in-store purchase. Problems included slow transaction speeds; stores that didn't know how to process sales, and payment errors.

These teething problems should be solved as the underlying technology matures and payments become more common.

Broadcom is already shipping samples of the BCM58100 to device manufacturers, but didn't say when it expects the first products powered by the chips will go on sale.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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Mikael Ricknäs

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