Wednesday, May 24, 2006

ID Theft (part 2) A Short History of Smart Cards.

As a note to our previous post on the problem of ID theft, here's what you can read in Wikipedia on the smart-cards (if anyone has a suggestion on why the US has singled itself out so much, be my guest!)

The first mass use of the cards was for payment in French pay phones, starting in 1983 (Télécarte). Roland Moreno (France) actually patented the concept of the memory card in 1974.

The second use was with the integration of a microchips into all French debit cards (Carte Bleue) completed in 1992. When paying in France with a Carte Bleue, one inserts the card into the merchant's terminal, then types the PIN, before the transaction is accepted. Only very limited transactions (such as paying small autoroute tolls) are accepted without PIN.

The major boom in smart card use came in the 1990s, with the introduction of the smart-card-based SIM used in GSM mobile phone equipment in Europe. They are becoming quite common now.

The international payment brands MasterCard, Visa, and Europay agreed in 1993 to work together to develop the specifications for the use of smart cards in payment cards used as either a debit or a credit card.

With the exception of the United States there has been significant progress in the deployment of EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) - compliant point of sale equipment and the issuance of debit and or credit cards adhering the EMV specifications. Typically, a country's national payment association, in coordination with MasterCard, International, Visa International, American Express and JCB, develop detailed implementation plans assuring a coordinated effort by the various stakeholders involved.

Smart cards are also being introduced in personal identification and entitlement schemes at regional, national, and international levels. Citizen cards, drivers’ licences, and patient card schemes are becoming more prevalent, and contactless smart cards are being integrated into passports ICAO to enhance security for international travel.

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