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Technology now a day's make thing smaller and smarter. ID Cards are no exception to the rule with smart cards. Smart cards resemble an ordinary card, except what is inside. Normal credit cards are made from simple piece of plastic called Premature Ventricular Contraction (PVC). On the inside of a smart card contains an embedded microprocessor. This microprocessor is under a gold contact pad on one side of the card. The microprocessor may at one time replace the magnetic stripe on a credit card or debit card.

Smart cards get most of its popularity in Europe. The health insurance and banking industries they use smart cards extensively. In German, all citizen has a smart card for there health care. The smart cards have been around for at least a decade, they are just now starting to take off in the USA.

The United Stats still use Magnetic stripe technology however, the data on magnetic stripe can easily be read, written, deleted or changed. This makes the magnetic stripe not the best place to store sensitive information. In protect, businesses in the U.S. have to invest in expensive online mainframe-based computer networks for verification. In Europe, such an infrastructure is not needed. Instead, the smart card carries the all the data.

The main purpose for the microprocessor on the smart card is security. The smart cards microprocessor communicates back and forth with the host computer. Not much different as a diskette the microprocessor enforces access to the data on the card.  

Most common smart card applications are:

  • Credit cards

  • Electronic cash

  • Computer security systems

  • Wireless communication

  • Loyalty systems (like frequent flyer points)

  • Banking

  • Satellite TV

  • Government identification

Smarts cards may have:

  • up to 8 kilobytes of RAM

  • 346 kilobytes of ROM

  • 256 kilobytes of programmable ROM

  • 16-bit microprocessor

The smart card uses a serial interface and receives its power from external sources like a card reader. The processor uses a limited instruction set for applications such as cryptography.


Smart cards can be created and read by smart-card reader attachment. Both the Zebra P330m single-sided smart card encoder or Zebra P430i Dual-sided color id card printer - smart card encoder & magnetic encoder are capable of writing to both smart cards and magnetic strips.

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