When I set about hiring for a group of entry level employees for my smart card company, I knew there was only one city where they could be based out of: Charleston. With its competitive labor market, relatively low cost of living, and convenient airport, I felt this was the best city for me to set up a US-based sales operation. The other city I had looked at was Salt Lake City, Utah, but I felt that it's remote location would put me at a disadvantage. Also, I prefer the east coast time zone as a basis for business operating hours.
I have worked with contact smart cards for years. These are small cards that have an electrical interface which is read when the card is inserted or brought in contact with a reader. This is the most common type of cards. The smart cards are equipped with integrated circuits which are embedded in them so as to provide them the capability to store data; some of them are also able to process data while more advanced ones can transfer this data to a terminal using radio waves. Memory cards which only house storage components with non-volatile memory and, sometimes, a security logic according to specifications and requirements. The primary difference between contact cards and contactless cards is that the latter uses radio-frequency induction technology (RFID).
Contactless smart cards have an ID which is unique for each smart card; it is also known as a Card Serial Number (CSN) and is read through Radio Frequency identification Technology. They also use a microchip which is rewritable and can be transcribed via radio waves. This technology enables the card reader to detect the chip without bringing the card in contact with its interface. The card just needs to be in the proximity of the antennas of the reader. This solves a few instrumental problems faced by contact smart cards:
1. Even though the cards are not that expensive, the readers tend to get damaged easily due to repeated use involving actual contact and some degree of friction. Now, contactless readers would not have to actually be touched on an iterated basis. This guarantees a longer life making it more cost effective.
2. Contactless smart cards have their origin in the early nineties when a number of international financial companies like Mastercard, Visa cards, JCB and American Express introduced the Europay Mastercard Visa (EMV) in 1994.
3. The second and more important reason for a contactless card being more useful is that it prevents a number of security issues.
The fact that one does not have to insert the card into a reader, and just swipe it over the proximity sensors, makes it more secure not just from physical theft but also from hacking. This means that smart cards, especially contactless smart cards are a brand new step to a more profitable and secure future for all monetary transactions.
The advantage of smart card products like these is that they are infinitely more flexible. Also, the hybrid cards have several chips inside, each of which can be used for a separate function that remains secure and independent of the other chips. Effectively one card can act as an ID, credit and debit card, and a database for healthcare or personal information. The forms of security used, usually a pin number or biometric identification, makes sure that the card will be ineffective to anyone other than legal bearer.
Being encryption devices, they are not easy to hack into, while no system is infallible, this is one of the most failsafe options available at present. MIFARE is the brand name for a contactless smart card which uses the Radio Identification Technology (RFID) for storing data and using the radio waves to communicate with a matching terminal for which it has been programmed.