way of doing Business
Smart, very smart
a time when cards are doing most things, newer technologies
are enabling it to do 'Comfortable business' as
never before. It's the turn of Smart Cards (SC)
to come in handy, making lives so much more comfortable.
SC offers a wide scope in usage and is quite unlike debit
and credit cards. They store several hundred times more
data than that of any magnetic striped card within the
electronic microchip embedded in them. This make SCs different
from other cards as its huge data can be processed both
online and offline.
SCs used for application in sectors like transport,
health and similar areas, generally store information
of the users. A monetary value is stored in the card in
electronic form and the value is deducted from the card
at the time of buying products and services.
It functions as a memory device when embedded with an
IC. When embedded with microprocessors, it can function
as a processor, carrying out multiple functions such as
encryption, advanced security mechanism, data processing
and calculations. Most stored-value cards are processor
SCs can be classified into two categories-Contact (CSC)
and Contact-less (CLSC). CSCs have to be inserted
into smart card reader/terminal for data transfer/access.
CLSCs do not need a physical contact with the reader.
It is just held near a reader. CLSCs are classified based
on the distance from which they can be read. Electromagnetic
signal emitted by the reader facilitates data access.
There are readers and terminals, which read these cards.
These can be wireless and networked or standalone hand-held
devices. The terminal is able to debit the chip once the
communication begins. New devices similar to a floppy
disk allow SCs to be read by a PC disk drive. An inter-operable
and multi-platform Application Programming Interface
(API) is critical for smart cards to carry out diverse
Where does the SC act smart?
There are a number of applications for smart card technology
for transactions. Some of the possible areas in which
SCs have been implemented around the globe are:
Retail purchases: Customers can pay for products
and record purchases.
Electronic purse: SCs work as that of debit cards.
Government services: SC can be used where a state
office transfers a set of benefits, like subsidised ration,
into a card, thereby reducing fraud and eliminating the
printing and distribution costs.
Public transportation: Stored-value smart cards
can be used for collection of fare for trains, buses and
Telecom: SCs can be used to operate payphones and
Health care: SCs can store the medical history
of a person.
Security wise, SCs are a far safer than magnetic striped
cards. SCs incorporate encryption and authentication technologies
that can implement issuer and user's requirements for
the highest degree of security. Content and data can be
securely transferred via wired and wireless networks.
Considering the dramatic improvement of SCs and its large
scale application, its use is likely to rise rapidly.
At present North America accounts for the largest number
of smart card users, but the Asian region is making inroads
into its use. Soon a single card will suffice to meet
most of our requirements. A smart way to solve problems!