Smart cards, as their name implies, are plastic cards with integrated circuits that allow them to contain important, rich data. The most common of these are modern credit and debit cards, employee ID cards used for access control, and, in some countries, national ID cards.
Contactless, NFC-based smart cards have become increasingly prominent in recent years, primarily in the area of tap-to-pay debit and credit cards, and in the form of fobs used to gain entry to restricted areas in the enterprise and government sector.
Biometrics appear to be the next step in smart card evolution. Advances in the production of fingerprint sensors have led to the advent of a new type of smart card: one with an embedded biometric sensor, capable of performing 1:1 matching on-device. Biometrics specialists have been working on fingerprint-scanning smart cards that can be used to bring even stronger security to access control, and on biometric payment cards that address the security gap left by the absence of the PIN code in today’s contactless payment card transactions.
As these newer solutions find their way into commercial markets, they are poised to further enhance the security already offered by smart card credentials.