How are smart cards used?

Smart cards help businesses evolve and expand their products and services in a changing global marketplace. The scope of uses for a smart card has expanded each year to include applications in a variety of markets and disciplines. In recent years, the information age has introduced an array of security and privacy issues that have called for advanced smart card security applications.

Information Technology

Businesses, the government and healthcare organizations continue to move towards storing and releasing information via networks, Intranets, extranets and the Internet. These organizations are turning to smart cards to make this information readily available to those who need it, while at the same time protecting the privacy of individuals and keeping their informational assets safe from hacking and other unwanted intrusions. In this capacity, smart cards enable:

  • Secure logon and authentication of users to PCs and networks
  • Secure B2B and B2C e-commerce
  • Storage of digital certificates, credentials and passwords
  • Encryption of sensitive data

Mobile Telecommunications

People using the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) standard for mobile phones use smart card technology. The smart card is inserted or integrated into the mobile handset. The card stores personal subscriber information and preferences that can be PIN code protected and transported from phone to phone. The smart cards enable:

  • Secure subscriber authentication
  • Roaming across networks
  • Secure mobile value added services

Wireless providers benefit from reduced fraud thanks to the security offered by smart cards. With the advent of mobile services such as mobile commerce, web browsing, and information services, wireless providers rely on smart cards to act as the security mechanism to protect those services. As a result, smart cards are beginning to move beyond GSM to secure mobile services for other wireless standards as well.

Commercial Applications

Smart cards also provide benefits for a host of commercial applications in both B2B and B2C environments. The smart card’s portability and ability to be updated make it a technology well suited for connecting the virtual and physical worlds, as well as multi-partner card programs. The cards store information, money, and/or applications that can be used for:

  • Banking/payment
  • Loyalty and promotions
  • Access control
  • Stored value
  • Identification
  • Ticketing
  • Parking and toll collection

Multiple applications can be stored on the card, enabling partnering on card programs and providing added convenience to the card reader.