A smart card interacts with a reader via a radio frequency interface or through physical contact. A reader decodes information through a microprocessor and authenticates a user.
Smart cards have a number of advantages over other cards used for access control, namely:
Information communicated between a card and a reader is encrypted and all the communication is secure.
They can be used with various technology readers including proprietary proximity, magnetic-stripe as well as biometric systems and are expandable.
Different type of information can be stored on one card which enables a card to be used for both physical and logical access control, i.e. a smart card may give access to office premises and a computer network.
Smart card technology can store biometric templates which increases privacy as compared to storing biometric information in a central database.