Practice Your Card Smarts
Smart cards start to experience growth in U.S. markets.
Because of the many benefits they offer to many different markets, smart cards have enjoyed immense popularity worldwide—and are finally beginning to see some action in the United States.
"Smart cards can store great amounts of information—information that can be both accessed and rewritten," noted Jerry Sumner, regional sales manager for Arthur Blank & Company in Boston. "There can be interaction between the system and the information on the chip at a much higher level than with a bar-coded or magnetic stripe card."
Schlumberger's Simera Airflex smart card, used in mobile communications, is transferable between smart mobile phones.
Because of these benefits, more market segments are smartening up and starting to utilize the cards. "We're seeing some traction in the financial trade, with a thrust toward giving people increased security and functionality for shopping on the Web," said Sumner. "The American Express Blue program has been successful in this country and it is leading the way for other programs."
Thomas Tang, the manager of partners and associates in North America and Canada, for Austin, Texas-based Schlumberger, noted that smart card sales have increased in many other American markets as well, including large corporations and biometrics.
"Large corporations are starting to issue the cards to employees for access to doors, sensitive information and e-mail," he said. "Smart cards are also being used in combination with fingerprint recognition and retinal scans to identify a person through biometrics."
With its passing of the GSA smart card initiative, one market that is sure to see growth is the government, noted Gary Funck, vice president of marketing for IDenticard Systems in Lancaster, Pa. "Over the course of the next 10 years, all government employees will have a smart card that they'll use for various reasons, such as building access control and entry to secure computer networks," he explained.