A smart card, also known as an automated chip card or integrated circuit card is a small piece of plastic polyvinyl chloride that contains embedded integrated circuits used to hold or store data about the card holder generally relating to monetary and financial dealings. Smart cards are available in two main categories namely memory cards and microprocessors. Individuals and organizations in need of reliable security authentication find use of smart cards very essential.
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Integrated circuit cards were invented by Jürgen Dethloff a German engineer with the help of his associate Helmut Grötrupp in 1968. In 1992 the patent was registered and approved by the relevant authorities. The initial public use of smart cards was basically for telephone bill payments in France in 1983. In 1974 a French discoverer Roland Moreno decided to patent his first idea of the memory card. This was followed by Michel Ugon a scientist from Honeywell Bull inventing the first microprocessor smart card in 1978. The device a self programmable one chip micro-computer (SPOM) defined the essential structural design to program the chip. The manufacture and production of the smart card increased immensely in 1977. Manufacturers SGS Thomson, Bull CP8 and Schlumberger led the mainstream use of smart cards. Schlumberger bought the CP8 patent form Bull then later combined its own internal smart card unit with CP8 to come up with Axalto. Gemplus the world’s number one smart card manufacturer merged with Axalto the world’s number two smart card manufacturer and became Gemalto. Motorola company used the CP8 patent almost three years later to develop the first secure single chip micro-controller. The highlight of smart card use came in 1984 when the French Postal and Telecommunications services experimented successfully ATM bank cards with chips. This prompted the installation of microchips in to nearly all French Debit cards in 1992. By the start of 1984, MasterCard, Europay and Visa had a common accord with regards to the EMV system that addressed aspects on expanding the specifications that enable the use of smart cards in banking. Today the use of smart cards has developed being used in various activities like identification, making phone calls and even for ATM withdrawals.
Industries that have successfully utilized Smart Card technology
Various industries have utilized the smart card technology successfully. In the telecommunication industry the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) is the most common application of smart card technology. Each phone contains a unique identifier embedded in the SIM that enables management of rights and privileges of individual subscribers on different networks. More than half of all smart cards utilized every year are used in the telecommunication industry. The introduction of The Universal Subscriber Identification Modules (USIM) has helped in reducing the identity gap as phones migrate between GSM, UTMS and 3G networks.
In healthcare, instances of sudden increase of healthcare data and difficulty in maintaining patient care and privacy safeguards have been successfully managed by use of smart cards. Smart cards have enabled portable storage and circulation of patient information from emergency data to benefit position. Smart cards have also promoted quick perfect identification of patients and better. It has also minimized theft through authentication of insurance and patient visits. Several countries are now adopting the use of smart cards recommendations for their health networks and a way of carrying instant retrievable electronic records on health. For so many years embedded device controllers have in a lot of equipment, governing the quality and accuracy of their functions. Embedded smart cards guarantee the most excellent and safest delivery of care in equipment such as blood analyzers, dialysis machines and laser eye surgery equipment.
In e-commerce it is now so easy for consumers to securely hold information and money buying products. The cards also assist in managing and regulating expenditures with automated limits and reports. Financial institutions and banks around the globe have issued millions of smart cards under the EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) standard. With stiff competition and newly opened markets banks are forced to secure transactions through smart cards at a fast rate.
Sun Microsystems, Microsoft Windows and all the current versions of linux contain in-built software hooks to install smart cards to substitute user name, passwords and pass codes. Microsoft has already created a comprehensive credential platform around the Scard DLL and crypto service provider. A smart card badge has become essential for far and wide deployed workers with organizations accepting that an improved security system is urgently required. Users of business intranets and private networks can be authenticated and allowed access to detailed information based on predetermined privileges.
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Smart card stored value
Stored value may be defined as the monetary worth on a card, the money or data are actually stored on the card. Unlike prepaid cards where data is kept in computers allied with the card issuer, data in stored value cards can only be accessed with a magnetic stripe programmed in the card on which the card number is preset. The float is realized on unspent or outstanding balances that remain unused. In health care patients may use smart cards in offsetting their hospital bills since stored value is more suitable and safer than hard cash. Use of Stored value, like follow up treatment programs that track and give support and other incentives to patients since smart cards centrally locate all data.
Personalized information like account numbers, telephone numbers and even addresses are usually enough to commence a payment. However the weak point of this kind of system is that someone may obtain correct personal information through illegal means and can pretend to be the real owner thus committing payments fraud. Payment smart cards provide adequate security since they are properly configured and contain a computer chip that encrypts information to help approval. Smart cards have proved to be vital in streamlining administrative procedures and also reducing theft and fraud. Banks, consumers, merchants have immensely benefited with the introduction of smart cards since the have become less vulnerable to fraud. Theft identity usually results to payment fraud, this happens when the approval process fails to detect a fraudulent transaction. Smart cards provide a variety of security options and issuers implement the strongest upgrades in its system.
Smart cards contain payment authorization codes embedded in them and ensure the person making a payment or a purchase is using an authentic payment tool that is correctly attached to the linked payment account. It assures the person paying that only authorized individual can be allowed to use the payment tool thus making it more effective widely used, appreciated and accepted. With smart cards a transaction can only be approved if the identity of the client is duly verified, the payment tool and other hardware have been satisfactorily authenticated and the particulars of the business suit the threat parameters laid down by the trade and the card issuer.
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