A smart card, basically a form of chip card, is a plastic card that is embedded with a computer chip; either as a microprocessor or memory type to transact and store data. This data is normally associated with either information, value or both and is processed and stored within the card’s embedded chip. The data in the card is transacted through a reader that is connected to a computer system. Today, there are several systems that are enhanced with smart card technology that utilizes key applications. They include banking, healthcare, transportation, and entertainment. These applications also benefit from the security and added features that smart cards provide.
Types of smart cards
There are many smart cards being used today, but they fall into the category of either contact cards, contactless cards or combination cards. Contact cards are recognized by the gold coated contact plates located on the card. They are used in conjunction with devices that are specifically made to read them. They are typically used for indoor locations. The most common contact cards are typically credit cards that are used for electronic cash, network security cards and student/government identification cards.
A contactless card is another type of smart card. They are generally MPU/CPU microprocessor cards. A radio frequency (RFID) is used to achieve communication with the reader. An embedded antenna is also used as an inductor that supplies energy to the card. Contactless smart cards can be used as token sized or credit cards. They can also be simple memory cards that can be utilized for reading information only. The common applications include student identification, electronic passports, vehicle parking and identification processes and electronic toll collection.
Combination cards use contact-less and contact technology on a single card that has two different computer chips. The versatile combination makes it easy for the card to be utilized by different readers. They are usually used in network securities, mass transit, and vending purposes. You can choose the type of the card you want that serves your specific needs.
Application of smart cards
Smart cards were first introduced in Europe thirty years ago, as a storage value tool for payphones to prevent theft. Since then, smart card technology has advanced, and people have created inventive ways to use them, including record keeping which replaced paperwork and the tracking of credit purchases. In the United States, for example, consumers have been using smart cards for everything from buying groceries to visiting libraries to attending movies. We have firmly integrated smart card technology into our daily lives, which negates the need to carry cash on person. Several states in the US have simplified things by having chip card programs for government applications that range from electronic benefit transfers to traffic departments. Several industries have also implemented the technology of smart cards in their products, such as TV-satellite decoders and GSM digital cellular phones.
Advantages of using smart cards
Smart cards enhance the security and convenience of any transaction. They offer a tamper-proof approach to account and user identity. Smart card technology has proven to be more reliable compared to other machine-readable cards, like bar codes and stripe. Studies have also shown that there is significant reader life and card read life that has lowered the cost of system maintenance. Smart cards offer important components of system security for data exchange virtually throughout any type of network. They offer security against a range of threats such as careless storage and sophisticated system hacks. The costs to maintain individual, enterprise or organization passwords are low, thus making them a cost-effective solution. Multi function smart cards can also be utilized to store values, data, and to manage network access. Therefore, smart cards are invaluable in securing transactions.
The future of smart cards
The future of smart card technology is looking positive and bright. The many potential and existing benefits smart cards offer to both private and public sectors increase the interest to have them used for daily usage. Compared to the normal magnetic stripe cards, smart cards increase convenience, security; reduce fraud, paperwork and has many more economic advantages. Organizations and government entities are projected to fully adapt to smart card technology in their future,which translates to us having to adapt as well. Researchers are constantly conducting studies to improve areas that have been identified as vulnerabilities in smart card technology. There has been a worldwide advancement of smart card usage which has promoted the application of the technology. Master Card and Visa Card are good examples of smart card technology that is used worldwide for banking services. Improved smart cards are expected to be unleashed on society in future with improved features.