After talking yesterday about smart carts, let's look at smart cards today. Susannah Patton will guide us through a day in Paris.
In Paris, it's hard to imagine a day without smart cards. Invented in France in 1979, the small plastic cards get their brains from a computer chip that can be programmed to allow consumers to chat on their cell phones, buy baguettes and ride the metro. Equipped with a password, they can be used as security devices at office complexes and military bases.
While smart cards have been slow to catch on in North America, Europe built its banking networks using the technology instead of the cheaper magnetic strip cards U.S. banks favor. To convert U.S. banks to smart cards would cost more than $12 billion, according to analysts at Frost & Sullivan. But as security concerns mount, U.S. banks will likely make the switch, says Can Elbi, an Amsterdam-based IT hardware analyst for Credit Suisse First Boston.
Patton imagines a fictional female character, Isabelle, who is working as a computer programmer, is married and has a young daughter. The article follows her hour by hour throughout a day. Let's see how she wakes up.
7 a.m. Isabelle wakes up to the ringing of her cell phone, which like all GSM (global system for mobile communication) phones contains a smart card chip. It's her boss asking her to report to work early. This version of the smart card, known as a Subscriber Identity Module, or SIM card, can be moved into a new phone, allowing the user to keep stored information such as directories and voice dialing commands.
During the day, Isabelle uses her Navigo card to take the metro, her Moneo card to make small purchases, her Carte Vitale provided by the National Social Security Administration to buy drugs for her daughter, or the one provided by her cable television company.
4:10 p.m. Back at home, Isabelle activates her cable television service so that her daughter can watch cartoons. The cable box contains a smart card that lets the cable company regulate Isabelle's programming remotely.
I'm using these smart cards so routinely that I didn't think I had so many of them.
Source: Susannah Patton, CIO Magazine, May 1, 2003 Issue
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