High Security e-Payment Terminal
Up to 50% size reduction using an MCM
Technologies used


Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    3001 Office Equipment

Trintech Technologies Limited develops, manufactures and markets hardware devices to process credit and debit card payment transactions since 1988. Trintech Group, of which Trintech Technologies is a wholly owned subsidiary, employs 610 people and has a turnover for 2000 of 50 million Euros.

Trintech's objective was to develop a Smart Card Payment Terminal with on-line PIN (personal identity number) entry for secure debit transactions based on MCM technology. The terminal stores encryption keys to encrypt the PIN so that it can be securely sent to an authorisation centre for validation. The encryption keys must not be accessible as they contain highly sensitive information, which must be kept secure at all times. Therefore the PIN entry device must protect the memory and encryption areas.

Security requirements were previously met by enclosing the PCB (containing sensitive components) in a fine wire mesh and encapsulating (potting) the mesh in epoxy. Any attempt to breach the mesh is detected by anti-tamper circuitry that activates an alarm. Further sensors are included to detect attacks on the epoxy and housing. However, the production process is expensive, labour-intensive and slow, and any failures detected after potting result in the entire unit being discarded.

Trintech performed a feasibility study of the available technologies and identified MCM (Multi-Chip Module) technology as the best method for reducing the size while maintaining high security. The advantages of MCM technology over the existing technology include:

  • reduced terminal size (up to 60%)
  • decreased unit cost (16%)
  • high security
  • improved manufacturing reliability

The security sensitive electronics are placed in a single "secure chip" which include the tamper detection features. By using a micro vias design the sensitive nodes will be buried under the IC making it impossible to probe the MCM without destroying it. The inside of the MCM package alone will be potted thus eliminating the requirement to pot the entire functional area, as with the current Trintech terminal range.

The MCM prototype will be used initially in the high security PIN entry device, the PINPad 950, providing weight reduction (60%) and improved manufacturability although the size remains the same. The MCM will then be introduced to a new unique secure range of portable (hand-held) and desktop terminals called the 'Barracuda' range, where a terminal size reduction up to 50% will be achieved. Thereafter the MCM device will become an integral part of all future Trintech hardware products.

Difficulties in implementing MCM technology included:

  • The stringent requirements of the security approvals board (Debis Systemhaus)
  • Porting the present PCB design into an MCM
  • The high cost of development of an MCM

The project total cost was 190 kEuros, of which Trintech was liable for 105 kEuros in production and approvals costs. The total FUSE funding was 70 kEuros. The expected payback period for the total investment (190 kEuros) will be 24 months, and a ROI of 500% (5 times) the total investment for a 5-year product lifetime.


    Trintech Technologies
    South County Business Park
    Dublin 18

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

MCM technology provided Trintech Technologies with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.

Further information   Guiding Technology Transfer Node
For further information and support regarding this case study, please contact a Technology Transfer Node (TTN) in your region.
Homepage: http://www.fuse-network.com
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