Smart Cards: Revolutionise The Way You Eat, Pay, Travel and Communicate

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The smart card is one of the digital icons of the latest information era. Smart card technology is made available in the market to gain access for products and services, verifying identity, establishment and to facilitate trade. Recently Mexico government has issued two millions smart cards for poor people for their cash benefits and distributing food. In a fresh survey it is found that 27% of smart card applications used within the banking, 18% is used within the welfare and health, and 15% within the transportation. It is also applicable in other applications such as radio security, metering, telecommunications and identification.

This smart card technology offers potential benefits to society and so many of the organizations and individuals are proudly maintaining a business relationship between the clients, suppliers or government authorities. Smart card can also be used as a portable storage device for different purposes and it has the capability of holding more data of different forms. Smart cards are designed by taking the following characteristics into consideration: memory management, security, open platform and portability. To know more about this technology in a technical manner and its working procedure, let us follow the below information.

What is a Smart Card?

A smart card is a pocket-sized plastic card with a small chip inserted into it. It is also known as a readable device which provides security verification in large organizations. It can store and transmits and records data to a central computer whenever needed. Smart cards have three main functions: authentication, storing personal information, and storing values.

How Does the Smart Card Works?

Smart card reader is also called as a card acceptance device, card programmers, or an interface device. There is a minute difference between the card reader and the terminal. The reader is used to determine a unit that interfaces with a computer or microcontroller for all of its processing requirements. Similarly a terminal is also considered as a self- contained processing device. It can be contact type or non-contact type.

Smart card is a portable device (transmits data) which communicates with another device to gain access to a network or a display device. Cards can be operated with radio frequencies, these cards can be plugged into a card reader commonly referred to as a card terminal.

Working of a Smart Card

When smart card reader and smart card comes closer, it identifies itself to the other by transmitting and receiving information. If the exchanged data doesn’t match, further processing will not occur. As compared with ordinary bank cards, these cards able to secure themselves against unauthorized users.

Two Types of Smart Cards based on Connection to the Smart Card Reader

Contact Smart Card

Contact smart card consists of electrical contacts which connect to the card reader where the card is inserted. The electrical contacts are arranged on a conductive gold plated coating on the surface.

Contactless Smart Card

This contact-less smart card communicates with the reader without any physical contact. It consists of an antenna which is used to communicate with the RF band with the antenna on the smart card reader. The antenna receives power from the card reader through the electromagnetic signal.

Two Types of Smart Cards based on their Functionalities and Configuration

Memory Cards

Memory cards consist of memory circuits. It can perform the following operations: store, read and write data to a particular location. These are cards which only consist of memory circuits. It can only store, read and write data to a particular location. The data cannot be manipulated or processed.It can also be used as a disposable or rechargeable card which contains memory units that can be used only once. It is a straight memory card used only to store and write the data and protected from restricted access.

Microprocessor Based Cards

These smart cards comprise of microprocessor embedded on to the chip along with the memory blocks. It has specific sections of files which are associated with a particular function. The data in the files are managed either by dynamic operating system or fixed operating system. It also performs the multiple functions and also used for data processing and manipulations.

Steps to Construct a Smart Card

  • Designing is the first step to construct a smart card which consists of following specifications such as clock speed, volatile memory types, memory size, type of operating system and specifying the application software, card type, size, functioning and some more additional features.
  • Chip fabrication is the second step which includes silicon chip mounting on an epoxy glass substrate with the help of gold plated connectors and a die. The silicon chip is mixed up to the connectors by using connecting wires or by using flip flop technology. The chip placed on the substrate is sealed by using epoxy resin and then glued to the card substrate. The card can be either polyester based or PVC based plastic card.
  • Loading the code into memory is third step by using special commands through recommended software.
  • Data loading into memory is the fourth step which stores the data related to the single person

Advantages of Smart Card

  • Safe to transport
  • Data storage capacity increases
  • More flexible
  • Prevents Fraud
  • Security
  • Reusable
  • Control over cash payment and administration
  • A chip operating system that supports various applications
  • Longer expected life span and highly durable
  • Easy to use without need of connection via telephone or  online

“A smart card has the whole range of benefits that allow it to have application in almost every industry . The prime advantages are – ability to hold and store data in a secure form, high degree of customization at, unmatched speeds is possible, enhanced security features to prevent duplication, compact design fits in your wallet/purse/mobile phone holder, and no battery needed,” said Shreyans Bengani, Director, Ecartes Technology Pvt. Ltd.

Smart Card Applications

Smart card is used in a wide variety of applications over different fields some of these areas are discussed below.

Financial Applications

  • Electronic Purse to replace coins for small purchases in automatic vending machines and over the transaction at counters.
  • Debit and Credit accounts, reproducing what is currently placed on the  magnetic stripe bank card, in a secure environment
  • Securing payment across the Internet as part of Electronic Commerce.

Transportation Purpose

  • Driving licenses
  • Electronic toll gate collection systems
  • Fare collection systems for huge crowd transportation

Physical Access Control System

Smart can be used by different public areas such as consumers and business dealers or organizations to provide access to the members (employees of the organization) or other persons to enter the secured areas. The smart consist of identification of every individual which is checked and scanned.

Telecommunications

The major and highly prominent use of smart card technology is in the development of Subscriber Identity Module or SIM card. A SIM Card provides network access to the each user or subscribe and manages its authentication. It also provides unique identification to each subscriber

Domestic Purpose

The most commonly used smart cards in domestic field are the DTH card. This DTH smart card provides authorized access about the information coming from the satellites. The card which gets direct access directly to the TV services in the home is nothing but a smart card. The information gets encrypted and decrypted within a smart card

Government Applications

Government of India issue identity cards to individuals by using this smart card technology. These identity cards consist of all the personal and individual details like name, place and date of birth, as an example of this smart card government has issued Aadhar card to all Indians.

Up to know we have discussed in brief about smart card technology working and its types. For a practical understanding, here we have given an application of this technology to establish a security system.

Security System Using Smart Card Technology

The project is designed in such a way to gain access to an area or control a device by using a valid smart card. This proposed system provides security to any organization, for this purpose the authorized persons with a valid smart card is permitted to access a secure area or to operate the device.

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