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Smart Card Reader: 4 Things You Need To Know

Smart Card Reader: 4 Things You Need To Know

The smart card reader is a piece of technology that is gaining more and more popularity. Here, we go through four things you need to know about smart card readers.

What is a Smart Card Reader?

A smart card reader is a hardware device that reads information from smart cards with a built-in chip. These versatile devices are available in three models: contact, contactless, or both. While contact smart card readers require users to insert a smart card into the device, the contactless smart card operates on radio-frequency.

What are Smart Cards?

But first, it’s probably a good idea to understand what smart cards are. While your smart cards may look like regular plastic cards, they are set apart by the technology embedded within them. Smart cards use either magnetic technology or integrated circuit technology to work. Both of these technologies house embedded microprocessors. These microprocessors contain the information that the smart card reader then reads.

Benefits of Smart Cards and Smart Card Readers

  • Smart card readers are more secure. In terms of security, smart cards beat other types of cards by a mile. They use both encryption and authentication technologies, which ensure an added layer of safety for users. What sets a smart card apart from other magnetic cards is that smart cards have a small CPU. This CPU can count and also requires the user to enter a PIN that offers them more security than a regular magnetic card.
  • Adaptable. Likewise, smart card readers are also more adaptable than their other card counterparts. Smart cards use a USB supported system that allows them to be plugged into machines to integrate various software.
  • Larger and protected memory. Typically, your average magnetic stripe card stores approximately 150 bytes. The storage capacity of a smart card, on the other hand, ranges between 1 to 256 KB. It is also more difficult to erase, delete or alter information that has been stored on a smart card.
  • Disadvantages of Smart Cards and Smart Card Readers

    There are a couple of disadvantages that come with using smart card readers, however:

    • Cost: While the smart card comes with myriad benefits, these do come at a cost. The technology that enables these benefits is highly advanced and offers maximum safety, which makes it more expensive when compared to other card readers.
    • Slow adoption: The technology behind smart cards is still in the process of being adopted on a mass scale. However, smart cards are predicted to gain more popularity than other card readers over time. 

    Smart Cards and Smart Card Readers: Yay or Nay?

    Despite these drawbacks, the benefits of a smart card are undeniable. Users can expect a higher level of safety and maintenance of hygiene levels thanks to access control solutions enabled with smart card readers. The adaptability of a smart card is also a key plus.
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