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How to define the Categories of Smart Cards ?

How to define the Categories of Smart Cards ?

Oct 10, 2020

The classification of smart cards is based on the workings of the card and how they are being used. Under this category we have:

1. Contact Smart Card

This is about the most common smart card in existence. Most credit cards, ATM cards, and SIM cards fall into this category.

Smart contact cards work by inserting it into a card reader and with the contact pad bearing a memory chip where information is being stored, the card reader can read whatever is written on the card and allow the user perform any transaction he intends doing.

They are called smart cards because they come in contact with a medium before they can function. The medium, in this case, is any digital interface like the smart card reader that allows for the transmission of information from the card to the reader.

2. Contactless Smart Card

Just like the name implies, it’s a contactless smart card and does not need to come in any physical contact with an interface before you can make use of it.

There are no card readers or digital interfaces to create a connection and subsequent transaction in the case of contactless smart cards. These kinds of cards make use of radio frequencies or Near Field Communication (NFC) technology that establishes a wireless connection between the card and wherever you intend using it.

The proximity contactless smart card is a typical example. The proximity card has only a sizeable memory space, can only be read and not written to. It means you can’t save anything on this card, you can only use the configuration on it to access restricted places, devices or gain access into a building.

If you are trying to access a building, all you do is to flash the card at the interface in the automated security door and you are granted access after your personal data have been accessed and verified.

3. Hybrid Cards

The hybrid cards are a powerful aggregation of both types of cards in this category. These cards can function as a contact smart card and also as a contactless smart card as the occasion demands.

They have both technologies embedded in them to function in such dual capacities. These cards quite rare, existing in a class of their own.

Classification Based on Configuration

1. Memory Cards

These are smart cards that are only for a temporal basis. Their memory capacities are extremely low which is why their functions are quite limited to certain activities or usage like reading, writing data and storing a limited amount of information required for a peculiar function.

Whatever data that is written on them can’t be edited or changed. It is static and can only perform one job description at a time after which it loses its relevance and most times it’s been discarded after usage.

2. Microprocessor Cards

The microprocessors are like mini-computers that are being made so portable that they can be hidden in your pockets. These smart cards have larger memory spaces to accommodate tons of data.

The processors are just like your traditional computers and are made to work using a software (operating systems), so you can read information on them, write to them, rewrite a written data, edit and manipulate whatever they contain at will.


The major highlight of the smart card technology is the security it affords users. With the smart card, users can store personal information like bank records, student identity to access exclusive libraries, company identity cards to gain access through computerized security checkpoints, storing phone contacts as in sim cards and many other huge benefits that guarantee the security of personal data.

Shopping is being made easy as the need for cash dissipates into scarcity and the portability of making payments go viral. Smart cards have come to stay and will form a major part of our tech lives for years to come.

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