Smart Cards: Definition, Types and Examples

November 15, 2019

Smart cards are really bliss in this new tech era!

As we live in a world of technological advancements, all of us rely on technological trends for every aspect of our lives.

The 21st century has made online shopping and cashless payments easier and smarter than ever. So how do all these happen? The answer is familiar to all of us.

The advent of Smart Cards has made these easier and simpler. Its influence has been reflected in every sector, be it small or large

These cards are called ‘smart’ for a reason. That is what we will be looking at.

What is a Smart Card?

The smart card is all about changing a tiny rectangular piece of card in to‘smart’. These cards are so convenient to be fitted in our wallets or back pockets. This is where the foremost advantage of smart card can be seen.

These cards are used by banks, shops, educational institutions, offices etc to carry out different transaction purposes. Though these cards are available in different sizes and forms, they all serve the same purpose i.e., the technology that drives them.

Smart card have enabled the security and convenience of any transactions. The technology used behind help users to store unique personal details

Why are these Cards ‘Smart’?

These cards are called ‘smart’ cards because they really are! These cards bear a substantial amount of private details of the cardholder. It contains an integrated circuit chip embedded in it.

The users can make use of technology to carry out payments, financial transactions, settling bills, etc without cash in hand.

As we know, there are many applications of smart cards. Some of them are:-

Government identification
Credit cards
Computer security systems
Wireless communication
Satellite TV

How Smart Cards are made

Construction of smart cards include four major steps

1) Designing

This is the foremost step that requires a programmer or a designer to set the clock speed, the memory size of the chip, volatile memory types, operating system, etc.

The programmer should create an application software for the card based on the card type. He/she should also add the required features.

2) Fabrication of the chip

During this second stage, the silicon chip is being fixed into it. This silicon chip is connected to wires by bounding or soldering them together. Then, the chip on board substrate is being sealed with epoxy resin and glued to the substrate of the card. The substrate is often made of any synthetic plastic or using PVC.

3) Coding

By using the special commands, codes are being entered into the chip memory.

This is an integral and vital part of card making.

4) Loading data

Personal details of the users are being entered in this final stage.

How the Smart Card works

A smart card does not work alone. It needs a smart card reader to function. The card contains an embedded memory chip contained in a contact pad. Once the contact pad is removed from the card, it is no longer smart.

In the card reader, the contact pad comes in contact with the reader and carries out the processing. Thus it helps you in transactions via POS (point of sale) or another medium to carry out transactions.

However, there are two types of cards- contact and contactless cards. The use of contactless cards is being increased rapidly due to their convenience to use.

Types of Smart Cards

Classification based on mechanism

Based on the working mechanism of the cards, they are being classified into three:

Contact Smart Cards
Contactless Smart Cards
Hybrid Cards

1. Contact Smart Cards

This is the most common smart cards in use. ATM cards, most credit cards, SIM cards etc fall into this category.

Here the cards are being inserted into card readers, it reads the information stored on the contact pad and carry out transactions as required.

2. Contactless Smart Cards

Just like the name implies, these cards do not require a reader. It works using Near Field Communication technology or using radio frequencies which establishes wireless communication between the smart card and wherever you intend to use.

 3.  Hybrid Cards

Hybrid cards are cards with dual capacity. These cards can work both on contact and contactless card readers. These cards are quite rare in use.

Classification based on configuration

Smart cards are classified into two, based on their configuration

Memory cards

1. Memory cards

These types of cards are used for temporal purposes only. It can only read, write or store data. A memory capacity of these cards is comparatively low and cards are often discarded after use. The data once stored cannot be edited or changed in this type of card.

2. Microprocessors

Microprocessors work like mini computers and have volatile memory. These are portable and can be fitted in our pockets.

These have vast memory so that you can write, read, rewrite, edit and manipulate data as required.

Examples of Smart Cards

Smart cards are used as-

Used as payment cards like credit/ debit cards. These are issued by commercial companies or banks.
Hospitals use these cards to store patient details.
EBT (Electronic benefits transfer) cards are used for the distribution of government benefits.
Smart cards are used by educational institutions, government authorities etc for access control.

As we conclude

We understand the major highlight of the smart cards is the safety it offers and also the compatibility it provides to the users. The advent of smart cards has made transactions easier than before. Users can store personal data and other details reliably. These cards are bliss for the users and also for the tech years to come.


About SchoolSmartCards

SchoolSmartCards is a venture by Edsys Pvt Ltd. It has been conceived with the aim of providing high quality smart card related products including ERP software for schools.

We have a passionate and dedicated professional team working on the development side to continuously improve the portfolio of SchoolSmartCards products.

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