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What is a Smart Card A smart card is a card that is embedded with either a microprocessor and a memory chip or only a memory chip with non-programmable logic The microprocessor card can add delete and otherwise manipulate information on the card while a memory-chip card for example pre-paid phone cards can only undertake a pre-defined operation Smart cards unlike magnetic stripe cards can carry all necessary functions and information on the card Therefore they do not require access to remote databases at the time of the transaction Today there are three categories of smart cards all of which are evolving rapidly into new markets and applications Integrated Circuit IC Microprocessor Cards Microprocessor cards also generally referred to by the industry as chip cards offer greater memory storage and security of data than a traditional mag stripe card Chip cards also can process data on the card The current generation of chip cards has an eight-bit processor 16KB read-only memory and 512 bytes of random-access memory This gives them the equivalent processing power of the original IBM-XT computer albeit with slightly less memory capacity These cards are used for a variety applications especially those that have cryptography built in which requires manipulation of large numbers Thus chip cards have been the main platform for cards that hold a secure digital identity Some examples of these cards are Cards that hold money stored value cards Card that hold money equivalents for example affinity cards Cards that provide secure access to a network Cards that secure cellular phones from fraud Cards that allow set-top boxes on televisions to remain secure from piracy Integrated Circuit IC Memory Cards IC memory cards can hold up to 1-4 KB of data but have no processor on the card with which to manipulate that data Thus they are dependent on the card
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