Concept of Smart Card

A smart card is a device that includes an embedded integrated circuit chip (ICC) that can be either a secure microcontroller or equivalent intelligence with internal memory or a memory chip alone. The card connects to a reader with direct physical contact or with a remote contactless radio frequency interface.

With an embedded microcontroller, smart cards have the unique ability to store large amounts of data, carry out their own on-card functions (e.g., encryption and mutual authentication) and interact intelligently with a smart card reader. Smart card technology is available in a variety of form factors, including plastic cards, fobs, subscriber identity modules (SIMs) used in GSM mobile phones and etc.

Smart Card Technology: There are two general categories of smart cards: contact and contactless as shown in figure below.


A contact smart card must be inserted into a smart card reader with a direct connection to a conductive contact plate on the surface of the card (typically gold plated). Transmission of commands, data, and card status takes place over these physical contact points.

A contactless card requires only close proximity to a reader. Both the reader and the card have antennae, and the two communicate using radio frequencies (RF) over this contactless link. Most contactless cards also derive power for the internal chip from this electromagnetic signal. The range is typically one-half to three inches for non-battery- powered cards, ideal for applications such as building entry and payment that require a very fast card interface.

Two additional categories of cards are dual-interface cards and hybrid cards. A hybrid card has two chips, one with a contact interface and one with a contactless interface. The two chips are not interconnected. A dual-interface card has a single chip with both contact and contactless interfaces. With dual-interface cards, it is possible to access the same chip using either a contact or contactless interface with a very high level of security.

The chips used in all of these cards fall into two categories as well: microcontroller chips and memory chips. A memory chip is like a small floppy disk with optional security. Memory chips are less expensive than microcontrollers but with a corresponding decrease in data management security. Cards that use memory chips depend on the security of the card reader for processing and are ideal for situations that require low or medium security.

A microcontroller chip can add, delete, and otherwise manipulate information in its memory. A microcontroller is like a miniature computer, with an input/output port, operating system, and hard disk. Smart cards with an embedded microcontroller have the unique ability to store large amounts of data, carry out their own on-card functions (e.g., encryption and digital signatures) and interact intelligently with a smart card reader.

The selection of a particular card technology is driven by a variety of issues, including:

  • Application dynamics
  • Prevailing market infrastructure
  • Economics of the business model
  • Strategy for shared application cards

Smart cards are used in many applications worldwide, including:

  • Secure identity applications - employee ID badges, citizen ID documents, electronic passports, driver’s licenses, online authentication devices
  • Healthcare applications - citizen health ID cards, physician ID cards, portable medical records cards
  • Payment applications - contact and contactless credit/debit cards, transit payment cards
  • Telecommunications applications - GSM Subscriber Identity Modules, pay telephone payment cards


Concept of Credit Card Based Payment System

“A generation ago, it wasn’t all that unusual to be out for dinner with friends or at the register with a cart full of groceries and realize you didn’t have enough cash to cover the bill. But today, you’re likely to pull out a debit or credit card and not think anything of it.”

It’s hard now to imagine a time when those noncash options weren’t available — especially if you were born in the 1970s or later. Credit cards have been around since the 1950s, and debit cards were introduced in the mid-1970s. By 2006, there were 984million bank-issued Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards in the United States alone.

Though the two types of cards may be used interchangeably, there are notable differences between them. Let’s start with debit cards.

Debit Cards

Debit cards are linked to your bank account so the money you spend is automatically deducted from your account. They provide a convenient alternative to cash, especially if you do a lot of shopping online. Debit cards can also help you budget. Use your card to pay your bills and day-to-day expenses and your monthly statement will provide a good snapshot of how much you spend per month and where it’s going. There’s another benefit as well: Unlike credit cards, your bank balance goes down with each debit card transaction, so you’re less likely to overspend. (Many banks offer “overdraft protection” that allows you to exceed your balance. But you’ll end up paying interest, and maybe extra fees, on the money you borrow from your overdraft account.)

With so many benefits to the debit card, why use a credit card at all? There are three main reasons: You can spend more than you have — or postpone paying, at least — and you typically get better rewards and better protection than you do with debit cards.

Credit Cards

Credit cards basically allow you to use someone else’s money (the card issuer’s) to make a purchase while you pay the money back later. If you do so within the billing period — generally, 15 to 45 days — you can avoid paying any interest on it. The problem arises, of course, when you don’t pay the balance in full and are charged interest as well. That can quickly add up. If it takes you two years to pay off a $500 balance, for example, and you’re being charged 18 percent interest, you’ll end up paying nearly $100 more in interest.

If you use them responsibly though, credit cards can offer other advantages. They help build your credit, as long as you pay your bills on time. Some also offer rewards that you can use to get gifts, cash back or discounts for products, services and special events. They also provide more protection if someone steals your card or bank information. If you notice a fraudulent charge on your credit card account, you can call the card issuer, make a dispute claim, and the charge should be removed from your balance. But if thieves steal your debit card information and use it, it may take weeks for the bank to investigate your claim and replace the lost funds. In the meantime, you may have to deal with a dwindling bank balance or bounced checks.

Federal law also protects you if you need to dispute charges on a credit card, but not if you use a debit card or other forms of payment. If you paid cash or used a debit card, the retailer already has your money. So you have a lot less leverage, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get that money back. But if you pay for something with your credit card and aren’t happy with the purchase, your card issuer can legally withhold payment from the retailer until they resolve the dispute, and you won’t be charged.

For most people, using both a debit card and credit card makes sense. The key is not to spend more than you have with either. If you can do that, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits that each provide.

Working Techniques of Credit Cards

Credit card payment processing for the e- commerce electronic payment system takes place in two phases: authorization (getting approval for the transaction that is stored with the order) and settlement (processing the sale which transfers the funds from the issuing bank to the merchant's account). The flow charts below represent the key steps in the process starting from what a customer sees when placing an order through completing the sale and finishing with the merchant processing the sale to collect funds.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Credit Cards are:-

Advantages Disadvantages

Convenience--Credit cards can save your time and trouble--no searching for an ATM or keeping cash on-hand.

Overuse--Revolving credit makes it easy to spend beyond your means.

Record keeping--Credit card statements can help you track your expenses. Some cards even provide year-end summaries that really help out at tax time.

Paperwork--You'll need to save your receipts and check them against your statement each month. This is a good way to ensure that you haven't been overcharged.

Low-cost loans--You can use revolving credit to save today (e.g., at a one-day sale), when available cash is a week away.

High-cost fees--Your purchase will suddenly become much more expensive if you carry a balance or miss a payment.

Instant cash--Cash advances are quick and convenient, putting cash in your hand when you need it.

Unexpected fees--Typically, you'll pay between 2 and 4 percent just to get the cash advance; also cash advances usually carry high interest rates.

Build positive credit--Controlled use of a credit card can help you establish credit for the first time or rebuild credit if you've had problems in the past--as long as you stay within your means and pay your bills on time.

Deepening your debt--Consumers are using credit more than ever before. If you charge freely, you may quickly find yourself in over your head--as your balance increases, so do your monthly minimum payments.

Purchase protection--Most credit card companies will handle disputes for you. If a merchant won't take back a defective product, check with your credit card company.

Homework--It's up to you to make sure you receive proper credit for incorrect or fraudulent charges.