The smart card is one of the latest additions to the world of information technology. Similar in size to today's plastic payment card, the smart card has a microprocessor or memory chip embedded in it that, when coupled with a reader, has the processing power to serve many different applications. As an access-control device, smart cards make personal and business data available only to the appropriate users. Another application provides users with the ability to make a purchase or exchange value. Smart cards provide data portability, security and convenience.
Smart cards come in two varieties: memory and microprocessor. Memory cards
simply store data and can be viewed as a small floppy disk with optional
security. A microprocessor card, on the other hand, can add, delete and
manipulate information in its memory on the card. Similar to a miniature
computer, a microprocessor card has an input/output port operating system and
hard disk with built-in security features.
Smart cards have two different types of interfaces: contact and contactless. Contact smart cards are inserted into a smart card reader, making physical contact with the reader. However, contactless smart cards have an antenna embedded inside the card that enables communication with the reader without physical contact. A combi card combines the two features with a very high level of security.