Contact smart cards are the size of a conventional credit or debit card. The contain a single, embedded, integrated circuit chip that contains either just memory or memory plus a microprocessor.
Memory-only chips are functionally similar to a small floppy disk. They are less expensive than microprocessor chips, but they also offer less security. They should not be used to store sensitive or valuable information.
Chips that contain both memory and a microprocessor are again similar to a small floppy disk, except they contain an "intelligent" controller that is used to securely add, delete, change, and update information contained in the chip's memory. The more sophisticated microprocessor chips have state-of-the-art security features built in to protect the contents of memory from unauthorized access.
Contact smart cards must be inserted into a card acceptor device. Pins attached to this reader make "contact" with pads on the surface of the card to read and store the information contained in the card's chip. This type of e-card is used to assist with network security, vending, meal plans, loyalty programs, electronic cash transfers, government IDs, campus IDs, e-commerce, health cards, and many more applications.
The amount of information this chip can carry and the way smart cards can be used has been evolving over many years.
Many of us are familiar with these cards. We use them as prepaid cards, as credit and debit cards, as security access cards to buildings and for such things as medical or identity.
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