How Smart Cards Work


How Smart Cards Work

Smart cards have become very popular today and have changed the way we conduct business today. They provide ease in identification, they help with ease in accountability and also make like more convenient for businesses and customers alike. Smart cards are designed to look like credit cards but their functionality is completely different.

A microprocessor is inbuilt into a smart card. The microprocessor of a smart card is like the magnetic strip of a credit card however it is placed under a golden contact pad in this case. A number of industries across Europe, USA and many other countries use smart cards today to carry out a host of functions to facilitate convenience for customers. The health industry in particular in Europe has issued smart cards for all those who carry health insurance. Smart cards are relatively new and they are speedily catching on.
Magnetic strips that are found on credit cards can be easily interpreted and used to a customer’s disadvantage. However in the US a technology was developed that kept sensitive information safe on these strips. In Europe, this technology was ignored and smart cards gained popularity with a multiprocessor under a gold pad.

The microprocessor is responsible for security of information. The card reader and the host computer exchange information with the microprocessor on the card. Smart cards are known to have 246 kb ROM and 8kb of RAM and usually have a 16 bit processor. Smart cards receive the power to function from card readers.

A few applications in which smart cards are very commonly used today are:

  • ATM cards
  • Credit Cards
  • Driving Licenses
  • Security Systems
  • Customer Loyalty Programs
  • Banking transactions
  • Wireless communication
  • Government Identification

Smart cards have a number of benefits and helping with providing authentication, identification and data storage is why they have become so popular today. Smart cards are also beneficial because they make life easy. Instead of storing a large number of documents, information about certain transactions, medical assessment/history, driving history can be all recorded for use later in a smart card.

Smart cards are the same size as that of a credit card and therefore can be kept in your wallet for posterity. However since a lot of retail stores and various other health and government organizations are dishing out smart cards, it may become difficult for you to carry the around. That’s why it is advisable just to carry those smart cards that you may use on a regular basis in your wallet or purse. Medical smart cards, your driver’s license and your debit or credit cards.

Smart cards indeed have made life easily and you should be very careful with them. They offer security and the information cannot be read by random people who get a hold of it, however you do not want to go under the stress of filing a report and applying for a new smart card when you lose the old one. So keep the ones you need from time to time at home under lock and key and safe guard your wallet when you are out of your house either grocery shopping or buying a fancy pair of shoes.

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