Smart Card

SMART CARD

A smart card, typically a type of chip card, is a plastic card that contains an embedded computer chip–either a memory or microprocessor type–that stores and transacts data. This data is usually associated with either value, information, or both and is stored and processed within the card’s chip.

Smart Card Types

There are four types of smart cards, which are defined by the way they are read/written:

  • Contact Cards: This type of card must be inserted into a card reader in order for it to be read, as the electrical contacts on the outside of the card need to connect with the card reader.

Contact type smart card is divided into 2 main categories:

  • Memory Type
  • Microprocessor chip

Memory chipThis solution is ideal for organisations requiring a cost effective smart card solution with basic storage and security applications. This chip contains high re-usable memory, protects sensitive information and can only be read using certain devices. This solution has no processing power in order to manage data.

Microprocessor chip: This solution is used for high end applications which require state-of the art security to protect the memory content from unauthorised access. It has cryptographic capabilities and complex application features. This type of chip is similar to one you would find in your computer. It allows the smart card to have multi-functionality

  • Contactless cards:These use radio frequencies to transfer data and therefor they do not have to be put through a card reader. Contactless /proximity cards are low in price and are commonly used in applications such as identification cards, Access control, key cards, payment cards and public transport cards. Example of some of the contactless card is MIFARE NXP, iCLass, Proximity cards & there are other types of RFID cards.
  • Hybrid Cards: It is a combination to make the cards more secure. Both contact and contactless chips that are not interconnected.
  • Magnetic stripe card: is a type of card capable of storing data by modifying the magnetism of tiny iron-based magnetic particles on a band of magnetic material on the card.

Smart Cards Application

Smart cards may be used for a number of different applications, including ID, authentication, or to store information. Smart cards have been widely used in the financial sector for many years now, in order for banks to offer their customer more flexibility securely. In more recent years smart cards have been applied to the transport system allowing travelers to move around more efficiently and to retail loyalty schemes.

Examples of some applications of smart cards can be seen below:

  • Encoded with personal data including: address, age, medical history & blood type
  • Biometric access control encrypted with fingerprint and retinal scan data
  • Printed with a strong corporate identity and a large portrait


Contact Card

This type of card must be inserted into a card reader in order for it to be read, as the electrical contacts on the outside of the card need to connect with the card reader.

Contact type smart card is divided into 2 main categories:

  • MEMORY CHIP
  • MICROPROCESSOR CHIP

Hybrid Card
Hybrid Card

It is a combination to make the cards more secure. Both contact and contactless chips that are not interconnected.


Contactless Card

Its embedded integrated circuits can store (and sometimes process) data and communicate with a terminal via NFC. Fully compliant with the international standard ISO/IEC 14443 Type A, NXP Mifare is a technology, which is used for contactless smart card systems consisting of card and reader components. Used in more than 40 different applications such as access controll, payment cards, gift cards and various other applications.

MAGNETIC-STRIPE Card
Magnetic Strip Card

These are a type of card capable of storing data by modifying the magnetism of tiny iron-based magnetic particles on a band of magnetic material on the card.