What is Smart Card? (The Introduction)

According to wiki A Smart Card, chip card, or integrated circuit card (ICC) is any pocket-sized card with embedded integrated circuits. Smart cards are made of plastic, generally polyvinyl chloride, but sometimes polyethylene terephthalate based polyesters, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene or polycarbonate. Since April 2009, a Japanese company has manufactured reusable financial smart cards made from paper.

Many experts also say, smart card is a plastic card about the size of a credit card, with an embedded microchip that can be loaded with data, used for telephone calling, electronic cash payments, and other applications, and then periodically refreshed for additional use. Smart card somehow categorized as a device that includes an embedded integrated circuit that can be either a secure microcontroller or equivalent intelligence with internal memory or a memory chip alone. The card connects to a reader with direct physical contact or with a remote contactless radio frequency interface. With an embedded microcontroller, smart cards have the unique ability to store large amounts of data and interact intelligently with a smart card reader. Smart card technology is available in a variety of form factors, including plastic cards, key fobs, watches, subscriber identification modules used in GSM mobile phones, and USB-based tokens.

Magnetic stripe technology remains in wide use in the United States. However, the data on the stripe can easily be read, written, deleted or changed with off-the-shelf equipment. Therefore, the stripe is really not the best place to store sensitive information. To protect the consumer, businesses in the U.S. have invested in extensive online mainframe-based computer networks for verification and processing. In Europe, such an infrastructure did not develop -- instead, the card carries the intelligence.

Over a billion smart cards are already in use. Currently, Europe is the region where they are most used. Ovum, a research firm, predicts that 2.7 billion smart cards will be shipped annually by 2003. Another study forecasts a $26.5 billion market for recharging smart cards by 2005. Compaq and Hewlett-Packard are reportedly working on keyboards that include smart card slots that can be read like bank credit cards.

The facts is smart cards are much more popular in Europe than in the United States. In Europe, the health insurance and banking industries use smart cards extensively. Every German citizen has a smart card for health insurance. Even though smart cards have been around in their modern form for at least a decade, they are just starting to take off in the United States.

Now or Later, people may be able to use a smart card to:

  • Establish your identity when logging on to an Internet access provider or to an online bank
  • Dial a connection on a mobile telephone and be charged on a per-call basis
  • Pay to get on buses or, trains
  • Give hospitals or doctors personal data without filling out a form
  • Make small purchases at electronic stores on the Web
  • Buy gasoline at a gasoline station

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