A smart card (also called chip card, or ICC (integrated circuit card)) consists of an integrated circuit that is often embedded in a credit-card-sized plastic sheet. Smartcards do not contain their own power source. Contact smart cards communicate by being inserted into a reader device, while contactless smart cards communicate over radio waves; some cards support both methods.

Uses for smart cards include banking (ATM cards), electronic wallets, identification badges (for transit, healthcare, building access, computer login, …), mobile phone SIMs, …

Smart cards are often protected against physical tampering to some degree. They are often a repository of secret keys, making them a common “what you have” factor in authentication. Chip cards range in capabilities from being a simple memory card which is read passively, to being capable of performing cryptographic operations on a key that never leaves the card.

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