Users Confused About RFID, Contactless Smart Card Differences


Although contactless technology is experiencing a surge, there is still much confusion over the similarities and differences between RFID and contactless smart card technology, according to Frost & Sullivan research analyst Michelle Foong.

The security market still lacks a clear understanding of what smart card technology is able to do in terms of security and processing, Foong says. Consequently, there is a need to crystallize the market’s understanding of the differences between RFID and contactless smart cards so that better informed decisions can be made and suitable applications be employed for each technology.

The convenience, speed and efficiency provided by contactless technology in RFID and contactless smart cards are superior to the capabilities of older technologies such as bar codes, magnetic stripes and paper-based tickets, says Foong. Contactless cards, in particular, are capable of transacting more sensitive and confidential information than RFID cards/tags as they are usually equipped with higher authentication mechanisms and security layers. It should not be confused with RFID technology, which is more popular in instances where less confidential data are transacted and single application is used.

Smart cards have become popular in a several key applications such as mass transit, government transactions, banking and access control. RFID, however, is more popular for tracking items and goods, like supply chain and logistics management.

“Confusion between the two technologies could eventually impede the potential growth of the both the RFID and contactless smart cards markets,” says Foong. “Hence, it is imperative that market participants work toward increasing market awareness of both their capabilities and features so that users are able to make better informed decisions when selecting the type of technology to be used for specific applications.”

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