In several of the articles in this month’s issue, you will find references to the concept of multiapplication cards. Some fare collection projects, access control projects, and payment card projects that utilize contactless technology are experimenting–or even implementing–more than one application on a single card.
For years, this concept has been atop the list of ‘wants’ for the contact chip industry. Those on the contact chip side of the smart card fence have carried the banner for multiapplication cards as a means to influence both end users and issuers. For end users, multiapplication cards were needed to “provide increased customer value” or to “improve the value proposition for the cardholder.” For card issuers, they were needed to provide “cross marketing opportunities” or to “distribute the technology’s benefits enterprise-wide.”
In reality, it is simply a means to cost justify a system. What many have found is that it was simply too costly to justify a contact chip smart card implementation for a single function. Be that function payment, network log-on, physical access control, loyalty or something else–it has often proven cost prohibitive.
For me, that is one of the most refreshing parts about my involvement in the contactless arena. With contactless technology, multiapplication capability is a side benefit–a great addition if and when it arises.
Fare collection projects, early payment projects, and the growing access control and ID installations are finding that contactless technology is cost effective–even when it is only used for its single intended purpose.
This is not a condemnation of contact chip technology. I remain a staunch supporter of contact technology for certain applications. Rather, it is merely an interesting juxtaposition of the two smart card interfaces. In essence, the components and the practical workings of the two are nearly the same. The comparison simply shows how the elegance of the contactless interface is proving so essential to the technologies success.
Chris Corum, Editor