Nov 20, 2020 in Exploratory

Smart Cards

Smart cards are inevitable part of modern life. Initially, they were used to keep money and to pay for telephone calls, transportation costs, copying in libraries, etc. Recently, the use of smart cards has significantly increased, primarily due to the usage of microprocessors. For example, in some countries, smart cards are used as a means of identification in various fields, from health checks and insurance payments to old-age pensions.


The latest achievement of this technology is spread via the Internet applications, mainly related to electronic payment systems and security issues. The smart card opens new perspectives that will inevitably develop into savings for both businesses and consumers.

Historical Facts about Smart Cards

Standard smart cards or memory cards have been used more than two decades ago, mainly in Europe and Asia. This technology was developed and patented in 1974 by Frenchman Roland Moreno.

The first card with contactless "interface" appeared in 1994 under the working title Mifare . Under this type of smart card, there was a global project implemented in Seoul in 1996.

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The new development was of great importance because it not only represented a completely new mechanism of work, but also allowed to store a small amount of memory (only 1 kb). Soon the benefits of such storage were widely appreciated, and by 1997, the number of smart cards increased to 500,000. In 2000, there were new versions of cards - so-called PRO cards with a storage capacity of more than 4 KB.

Over the years of its development, there were a plenty of projects that created the most successful applications using smart cards. For example, smart cards can be used as biometric information storage, mobile verification, application in the hotel system and as a simple passport.

In 1996, about 805 million smart cards were released, in 2000 - about 2.8 billion cards, and this number is constantly increasing. Nowadays, smart cards are widely introduced in various spheres. In the U.S., consumers have been using chip cards for everything from visiting libraries to buying groceries to attending movies, firmly integrating them into our everyday lives. Several U.S. states have chip card programs in progress for government applications ranging from the Department of Motor Vehicles to Electronic Benefit Transfers (EBTs). Many industries have implemented the power of smart cards in their products, such as the GSM digital cellular phones as well as TV-satellite decoders.

What Is a Smart Card?

There are two types of smart cards. The first type includes magnetic stripe cards. The cards with an embedded microchip belong to the second type. Both types of cards are plastic. They have a standard size, similar to the size of a credit card.

Memory cards store a value corresponding to a certain amount of money, which can be used to pay for telephone calls, retail goods, etc. Over the past twenty years, these cards have reached a new level - they have evolved into smart cards, which can store and process data.

Smart cards are equipped with a microprocessor and memory chip, or only a memory chip with unprogrammed logic. Memory cards can perform a predetermined operation dependent on the processing of the reader. Cards with an integrated chip have greater flexibility than a storage card. These cards can store and protect information; moreover, they are provided with the "read and write" functions to protect information from theft or damage, which allows them to be used for decision-making in the applications to perform various transactions.

Smart cards have different modifications depending on the sphere of use. The most important ones are the following:

Smart cards with a memory module. They can be used in an unlimited number of applications, including identification of individuals, access control, personal data storage, etc.

Smart cards with the memory module and security logic. They combine such functions as data storage and protection mechanisms account and can be used in a large number of diverse applications.

Smart cards with the memory module and the central processing unit (CPU). They can be used as means of payment in the banks, pension funds, for utility bills, trading systems, as well as for the identification and protection of computer networks.

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Contact smart cards. They are used in certain areas, such as health, transport, banking, e-commerce and identification, as well as contactless smart cards.

MIFARE cards. They are widely used in public transport, as calculating and discount cards.

Java Cards. Any program written in accordance with the JAVA Card API has a wide range of use, as it can run on any smart card standards-compliant JAVA.

Modernization of Health Services

During the last decade many national health systems started using EHR to create a framework for a more effective and efficient management of their citizens health. In other words, they wanted to create some longitudinal records of all care provided to the patients in all venues over time (Guido). Today this process is simplified by the use of smart cards.

Smart cards enhance the quality of health care services and reduce their costs by increasing the effectiveness of the transfer of medical and administrative information. In medicine, they are useful in many cases. Advantages of their use are listed in the following table.

Medical cards


Health Insurance Card

Reduce the amount of routine paperwork;

Exclude the possibility of error and fraud;

Accelerate the processing of applications and payments;

Chip equipment.

Card with access to medical files

Patient monitors physician access to information;

Patient's medical history is always available;

Pharmacist has access to the information about medical appointments only;

Allows carrying out automatic check drug. compatibility.

In Oklahoma City, United States, medical system has been using a system of smart cards - MediCard - since 1994. This system is designed by health professionals. A smart card can selectively control access to the patient's medical history, which is recorded in MediCard. On the other hand, in extreme circumstances, emergency services can get access to all necessary information, including the name of the family doctor and close contacts.

Protection against Fraud

Taking into consideration the availability of smart cards (primarily Mifare and Java-card) and their cost, which is almost equal to the cost of a simple card, it is logical to use the smart card systems to avoid fraud. Currently, there are a large number of smart card readers with the Wiegand interface. This fact allows people to use smart card readers with standard controllers and control systems access.

Complex integrated systems that control access to the data in corporate LANs are of particular interest today. These integrated systems allow one to:

unify the procedures of information security policy and policy monitoring and controlling physical access;

block the user's computer when it is attacked by hackers;

block personal information in case of being accessed by a fraudster.

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Analyzing all the information mentioned above, it is clear that smart cards are of huge importance nowadays. With the help of smart cards, millions of people around the world make bank transactions, pay for the public transport, buy plane tickets, go to the doctor, visit clubs and recreational centers, etc. Today, smart cards are being implemented in all new areas of human activity. Thus, a significant role of such new technology is obvious. They demonstrate the highest level of service and provide people with additional benefits at home and at work.


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