David Smith: Areas That Would Be Transformed by Smart Card Technology in the Future

Smart Card, Chip Card or Integrated Circuit Card (ICC) is a special type of card similar in dimension to a credit card. Intelligent microchips are integrated on the card and are used for reading, writing and storing data as well as security authentications and electronic payment settlements.

Since their introduction in the late 1960s, smart cards have been in active use in the areas of e-commerce, banking, government application, identification, access authorization, transportation ticketing among others for various purposes. This article discusses below, the areas that would be transformed by in the near future.

Health
As smart card applications are gaining rapid global recognition, hospitals are also at the forefront of embracing this revolutionary technology to reduce the cost of administration and labor greatly.
For example, in the area of patients’ identification, smart cards can be used to pull identities by using intelligent instantly, smart cards to store patients’ record credentials such as a PIN, photos, biometric data as well as other past medical records.

There is a great advantage to this because smart cards can ensure the safety of patients’ records by making it very hard if not impossible to compromise the data. Smart cards can also support the use of digital signatures as an added advantage to prevent medical data theft which is very common using the current web application trends for hospital management systems.
Many national hospitals throughout Europe and Asia have already started using this technology to their advantage. Germany, for example, has deployed well over 80 million medical smart cards which are currently in use by its healthcare beneficiaries. Germany started using this intelligent microchip technology on healthcare smart cards since the year 2006, the card is dubbed “Gesundheitskarte” which translates to healthcare card in English.

While only a handful of countries across the globe are using smart cards for their healthcare sectors at the moment, this trend is believed to more than quadruple in the health sector in 2019 and beyond as the technology holds a very promising future.

Public Transportation

The use of smart cards in the public transportation system or e-ticketing is becoming widespread and readily a viable option that can effectively replace the traditional way of paying for public transportation fares. Smart cards have wider application in the transportation sector which can include travel passes, one-way or two-way journey tickets, tokens, customer loyalty rewards or ID tags.
E-ticketing in the regions that are already using this technology is achieved using a handheld computer called Electronic Ticketing Machine (ETM).
The ETM device is a programmed handheld computer which is designed to be used in the collection of transport fares, issuance of travel tickets/passes, instant calculation of fare as well as display and reports about passengers onboard.
This smart card contains an intelligent microchip which is responsible for the collection and issuance of the travelers' data.
Modern e-ticketing systems can allow the buses using this technology to be tracked while on the road by providing encrypted data such as the number of passengers accessing the public bus service per day, etcetera. All of this information is stored on a database which is transferred back to the transport operators to enable them to improve their services based on the data collected.
While the e-ticketing system is not widely used globally, this area of using smart cards technology in public transportation is expected to increase rapidly in the near future.

Education

Smart cards are changing the way schools carry out their management activities both for students and school administration. These smart cards designed for students and schools are regular smart cards that have an intelligent microchip on the card to help achieve various administrative purposes such as tuition payments, student's attendance, students profiling etcetera.
Smart cards designed for schools can be used to seamlessly achieve tuition payment for every student in a hassle-free manner. The smart card stores several data attributed to each student which can be used to grant them access control to certain school’s facilities. Below are examples of what the students’ smart cards can be used for;

Attendance

Teachers do not have to go through the process of manually marking attendance anymore. Students’ smart cards can be used to automate which student attends a certain class at any given time.

Library Management
Smart cards can be used in schools to store information for every student that has been issued a library book as well as track the due date they are expected to return those books. In the case of fines for students who return library books late, students’ smart cards can be used to settle the fine charges.

Access Control
Students’ smart cards can be used to grant access to school facilities or building to selected students or staff. For example, a school may decide to restrict certain students from accessing the school’s laboratory for any reason.
These and many other smart card applications for schools are expected to be transformed by intelligent microchip technology in the near future. This will help school authorities and parents to shift focus from manual schools and students’ management to an era of automation using the modern technology smart cards portend.

Cafeteria and Canteens

Students can use their students’ smart cards to settle bills when they buy things at the school cafeteria or canteens.

Finance

Smart credit and debit cards have been in existence for quite some time now, but there is another subset of this payment system that uses contactless smart card technology – it is called wearable technology.
Wearables as they are often called, refer to any piece of technology that you can wear on your body such as smartwatches, fitness trackers, wireless earbuds, virtual reality and augmented reality headsets.

These gadgets can do many things from monitoring your heartbeat rate to helping you respond to social media messages without having actually to use your phone.

Wearable gadgets such as smartwatches, for example, contain an intelligent chip called Near Field Technology (NFC) which is an improved version of Bluetooth and can help you do more like making payments at the point of sale exactly the way contactless credit or debit cards work.

Wearable technology has now moved more into smart payment space where key technology giants such as Google, Apple, and Samsung have dominated the market with products such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay.
According to a 2015 report published by Tractica; a technology-focused market research firm predicted that there will be over $500 billion in worldwide transactions that will be settled through wearable technologies by the year 2020.
In the year 2015, this research firm recorded over $100 billion of transactions that were settled through wearable payments. This shows that there will be an immense demand for these gadgets in the near future which will eventually reshape how payment transactions are settled worldwide.

Electronic Passports

The use of electronic passport was first recorded in the year 2005, and since then, a little over a hundred and fifty countries have migrated from the old and traditional paper passport to this revolutionary technology. Electronic passports contain an intelligent microchip on the card which makes it possible to store digital photo and other bio data which is found on the traditional paper passport.
A decade after the initial deployment of electronic passports, there were already plans to integrate these electronic passports with smartphone applications to allow seamless and secure companionship to the physical passports for travelers anywhere they are.
E-Visas and entry/exit stamps, as well as the ability to read and write data, are also expected to be electronically integrated into the next edition of electronic passports to allow more flexible migration management.
Electronic passports are still in their infancy stage as the technology was barely available two decades ago. We expect a room for huge improvement in this sector in the near future.

Conclusion

The technology behind smart cards has been growing at a rapid pace with newer ways to use intelligent microchips being proposed and implemented every day. While smart cards have greatly and positively reshaped how we use technology today, there are also increasing alarms towards the cons associated with these smart cards such as flaw level of security and possible risk of identity theft. Since smart cards are fairly new technology as well, we do hope that the cons associated with them will greatly improve or be eliminated entirely in the near future.

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