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Flash Cards Security Standard Unveiled

Five of the biggest names in the electronics and semiconductor industries on Thursday announced the creation of a new mobile commerce extension standard for flash memory cards, a move aimed at squarely at the lucrative market for micropayments.

The five -- Hitachi, Ingentix GmbH , Matsushita (Panasonic), SanDisk and Toshiba -- said the mobile commerce standard would add increased security functions to the standard memory features that are already supported by existing flash cards.

By adding updated security capabilities, the five companies (known as 5C) are promoting the use of flash memory cards in new applications, such as: secure data transfer, content purchase and electronic payments.

Equally important, the plan is for the new security features to boost the flagging market for flash memory cards , which are used primarily in digital cameras and other devices to capture and store digital images, data, video and audio.

Ideally, 5C believes the adoption of the flash card standard would extend to new markets like stock trading, storage of personal medical records and the purchase of entertainment content, such as music and video.

The group said the new set of security features could be used with popular flash memory cards like CompactFlash, SD Memory Card, MultiMediaCard and was independent of specific card specifications (physical dimensions, form factor and electrical specifications as defined by various card standard organizations or manufacturers. "It is also independent of operating systems and therefore can be used on a wide range of devices," the group said.

Last year, according to research from International Data Corp. (IDC), worldwide sales of flash memory cards reached 45 million and the 5C group is leaning heavily on IDC forecasts that the flash card market, which totaled about $920 million in 2001, will grow to $2.6 billion in 2006.

The firms plan to promote and license the new standard in the open market. Complete standard specs and licensing documents would be available to the public by October, 2002, the group said.