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Unlike conventional smart cards that rely on physical contact for a transaction, the Contactless Smart Card allows very fast customer throughput with no wear and tear on the terminal equipment or the card itself.

Contactless Smart Cards, or CSCs, have built-in electronics for logic, security and encryption, transmit and receive functions, and a hard-coded serial number.

How a CSC Works

When a customer wants to use a CSC for a transaction, they place the CSC within two to three inches of the CSC terminal antenna. The CSC terminal antenna emits RF radiation, which the CSC receives and uses to create internal electricity for the electronics embedded in the card. This is why CSCs do not have batteries or capacitance power sources.

When the CSC is activated, it transmits encrypted data to the terminal. The terminal verifies this data, then performs the required function, such as deducting the fare for a train ride in the Chicago mass transit system. The transaction and serial number of the CSC is logged and a new encryption key and stored-value amount is transmitted to the CSC, which stores the data in non-volatile RAM. This exchange takes place in less than a second.

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