When we use the term “card technologies“, what do we mean? The easy answer is – any technology that can be placed on a card. What is a card? Typically we think of our credit or bank card but there are other sizes and materials used for different applications. The card can be made of plastic (polyester, pvc, or some other material) or paper, card, or even some amalgamation of materials. The common point is that the card is used to provide “access” to something and it includes some form of AIDC (Automatic Identification and Data Capture) technology.
There are currently three main technologies we think of when we mention card technologies. These are magnetic stripe, smart cards, and optical cards. Other technologies can be put on cards as well (such as bar codes, touch memory, etc.). Often the card will have printing on it which may involve technologies such as Dye Diffusion Thermal Transfer (D2T2) direct to card printing.
Cards have been with us for a long time, especially if you use the broader definition of what a card is. When you start to talk about “our industry”, there are a few dates that may be of interest.
Charge a plate
First Social Security card issued
Franklin National Bank – first credit card
1952 and later
Credit cards from Chase Manhattan, Bank of America, Marine Midland Trust
Credit card & ATMs
London Transit Authority magnetic stripe tickets in the London Underground
BART Transit tickets with magnetic stripe
Suggested use of magnetic stripe on ATB
Patent 3702464 – basis for card with IC
Magnetic stripe standard
Smart card standard
Magnetic stripe mandate on bank cards
Renewed effort for magnetic stripe on ATB
Contactless cards standard
EMV specifications for electronic cash
Optical memory card standard
High coercivity magnetic stripe standard
As we approach 60 years of card technology, you see that we have encompassed a great many achievements. Many of them, we use everyday and don’t even think about. How many “cards” do you have in your wallet right now, probably between 3 and 10 if you are a typical business person.