Monday, August 09, 2004

Tussle among dual-interface smartcards

By Jason Tan

Smartcard interfaces can generally be categorized into contact, contactless, and dual interface, which combines both.

Type A, B and C are three major types of dual-interface smartcards, said Johnson Wang, ASK’s general manager of North Asia.

The first two types comply with the ISO 14443 standard, but transmission speed of Type A is four times higher than Type B.

According to Wang, Type A is the most widely adopted card as its chip was first developed by Philips Semiconductors early in 1994. Asian countries perceive them as being more secure with better performance.

Samsung, OTI and Amtel are the main suppliers of Type B chips, and cards with these chips are more common in European and Asian countries, such as Germany, Spain, Taiwan and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Sony came up Type C cards, but they have not yet been recognized by standards bodies. This may cause them to fade away from the market, Wang commented.

However, Type C cards have been popular in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shenzhen in China. Their popularity may be attributed partly to Sony’s promotion of the cards to vendors at competitive prices.

As dual-interface smartcards are mainly used in transportation, vendors need to come out with more killer applications before they see wider adoption. Potential areas include banking, e-commerce, purchases and administration.

One way of doing this is to incorporate micropayment applications, turning dual-interface cards not only into public-transport cards, but also cash cards that allow consumers to conduct transactions at participating outlets, Wang suggested.


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