About the Alliance : Overview
About the Smart Card Alliance
The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to stimulate the understanding, adoption, use and widespread application of smart card technology. The Alliance invests heavily in education on the appropriate uses of technology for identification, payment and other applications and strongly advocates the use of smart card technology in a way that protects privacy and enhances data security and integrity. Through specific projects such as education programs, market research, advocacy, industry relations and open forums, the Alliance keeps its members connected to industry leaders and innovative thought. The Alliance is the single industry voice for smart card technology, leading industry discussion on the impact and value of smart cards in the U.S. and Latin America.
Smart Card Alliance Members
The Alliance is comprised of over 200 members worldwide, including participants from financial, government, enterprise, transportation, mobile telecommunications, healthcare, and retail industries. A mix of issuers and adopters of smart card technology work in concert with leading industry suppliers of the full range of products and services supporting the implementation of smart-card based systems for secure payments, identification, access, and mobile communications.
Smart Card Alliance Priorities
The four main priorities of the Alliance are:
- To influence standards that are relevant to smart card adoption and implementation;
- To maintain a voice in public policy that affects smart card adoption and implementation;
- To serve as an educational resource to its members and the industry; and
- To provide a forum for cutting edge discussions and projects on issues surrounding smart cards.
Smart Card Alliance Activities
- Events–Smart Card Alliance conferences and web seminars that provide the latest information on the development and implementation of smart card initiatives.
- Industry and Technology Councils–Member-driven groups that focus on topics in specific industries or market segments to accelerate smart card adoption and industry growth.
- Education–Smart Card Alliance conferences, web seminars, Educational Institute courses, training and certification programs, and web content that provide smart card market, application and technology education and information for both Alliance members and the industry. The Smart Card Alliance also publishes reports and white papers on smart card applications, public policy positions, business and implementation case studies and other deliverables focused on helping the industry to understand and overcome deployment issues.
- Outreach–Industry and international outreach and advocacy to stimulate the understanding, adoption, use and widespread application of smart card technology.
Smart Cards Defined
Defined at the highest level, a smart card is a device (e.g., a plastic card) that includes an embedded integrated circuit (IC) chip. The smart card connects to a reader with direct physical contact or with a remote contactless RF interface. With an embedded microcontroller, smart cards have the unique ability to store large amounts of data (e.g. biometrics), carry out their own on-card functions (e.g., encryption and digital signatures) and interact intelligently with a smart card reader. Smart card technology encompasses many different shapes, features, and functions beyond a typical card implementation and can be embedded in computers, mobile devices, and tokens.
According to Eurosmart, over 6.1 billion smart cards were shipped worldwide in 2011, with smart card shipments forecast to grow 13% to 6.9 billion in 2012. Smart cards are currently used worldwide for many applications, including healthcare, financial, transit, telecommunications, and secure identification. Examples of current uses most common in the United States include:
- The U.S. Federal Government Personal Identity Verification (PIV) card being issued by all Federal agencies for employees and contractors.
- The ePassport being issued by the Department of State.
- Payment cards and devices being issued by American Express, Discover Network, MasterCard and Visa.
- Transit fare payment systems currently operating or being installed in such cities as Washington, DC, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
- The Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) used in mobile phones.
- Pay (satellite) TV security cards in set-top boxes for cable and satellite television subscribers.
Smart Card Benefits–Security and Privacy
The Smart Card Alliance advocates the use of smart card technology to protect privacy and enhance data security and integrity. Applications that use smart cards take advantage of the technology’s ability to provide secure, portable storage of data; enable authenticated access to information (either on the card or within the application system); and support secure transactions between the card and the network.