Plastic Cards - Smart Cards - RFID  Cards
Similar to a credit card, a smart card stores information on an integrated microprocessor chip located inside it.

There are two basic kinds of smart cards. An "intelligent" smart card contains a central processing unit - a CPU - that actually has the ability to store and secure information, and "make decisions", as required by the card issuer's specific application needs.

Because intelligent cards offer a "read/write" capability, new information can be added and processed. For example, monetary values can be incremented and decremented as a particular application might require.

The second type of card is often called a memory card. Memory cards are primarily information storage cards that contain a stored value which the user can "spend" in a pay phone, retail, vending or similar transaction.

The intelligence of the integrated circuit chip in both types of cards allows them to protect the information being stored from damage or theft. For this reason, smart cards are much more secure than magnetic stripe cards, which carry information on the outside of the card and can be easily copied. Smart cards are an effective way of ensuring secure access to open interactive systems, such as encryption key mobility, secure single sign-ons and electronic digital signatures.
 
A smart card ship has three types of memory:

- ROM: The Read Only Memory contains the card's operating system or mask.  The ROM is fixed and cannot be changed once manufactured by the semiconductor supplier.

- RAM: The Random Access Memory is used to store temporary data. RAM is volatile memory and loses information immediately when the power supply is switched off.

- EEPROM: The Electrically Erased Programmable Read Only Memory is used to store data files, applications, etc, ranging in size from 8 kilobytes to 128 kilobytes. The EEPROM is non volatile memory and as such retains its contents when the power supply is switched off.

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