The invention of the automated chip card in the late 1960s and its subsequent development marked the beginning of an era of rapid technological advancement in the smartcard manufacturing industry. Today the amount of information that can be stored on the tiny embedded integrated circuits is almost limitless and the smartcard, with its myriad of applications, is fast becoming commonplace in our culture and daily lives.
EOH Intelligent Infrastructure saw a gap in this constantly evolving market for a trusted and reliable supplier and have set up an entire smartcard department. As an EOH division, EOH Intelligent Infrastructure prides itself on embracing and driving technological change and proactively seeking solutions to meet the individual needs of its customers.
“The long-standing relationships that we maintain with the manufacturers ensure that our customers receive the most beneficial pricing structures and unfettered access to cutting edge technology,” remarks Paul Kennedy, sales manager of EOH Intelligent Infrastructure recently established smartcard division.
“The decision to branch out into smartcards was largely based on EOH’s commitment to providing a one stop shop for full and consistent solution delivery. Our aim is to aggressively grow this division to ultimately service the global market,” says Kennedy. Although the initial focus of this business unit is chip card sales, there is an intention to expand into solutions in the short term.
Tailor made solutions
Kennedy explains that many customers are uncertain of their requirements in terms of the actual application and specifications of the smartcard. Depending on the sector that they support, including healthcare, banking, entertainment or transportation, smartcards can be personalised with various sized chips for different levels of security and different certifications. The availability of a wide range of options necessitates the input of a well-versed service provider with a proven customer service track record.
Kennedy and his newly appointed colleague, Mark Dankworth, have a combined working knowledge of the smartcard industry that spans in excess of three decades. This hands-on experience has proved to be invaluable in the setting up of the new division. As smartcards become more sophisticated and multi-functional, practical skills are imperative.
Bank issued smartcards
With the advent of the EMV (Europay, MasterCard, VISA) standard in the banking sector, which is being driven by the alarming increase of all types of fraud with both credit and debit cards, smartcards have been proven to secure transactions with regularity, so much so that the EMV standard is swiftly becoming the norm.
As banks extend their service offering into newly opened markets they are securing transactions via smartcards at an increased rate. This means that smartcards are being deployed to increase trust through improved security, enhance customer service through 24-hour electronic banking facilities and reduce costs through the electronic management of transactions.
The much anticipated smart ID project, undertaken by the Department of Home Affairs, promises to speed up government services while cutting down on crime and corruption involving identity documents. Home Affairs Director-General, Mkuseli Apleni, recently announced that the pilot of this project will be launched before the end of the year. A national identity system, using smartcards instead of the antiquated green bar-coded ID books, further serves to place an emphasis on the versatility and importance of smartcards in South Africa.
“The smart security sector is growing at an amazing pace; it looks set to show growth of 13% in 2012,” says Kennedy, “this is mostly due to the smartcard being more secure than any other identification technology, its economic viability, and its ability to store information ranging from personal details to fingerprints.”
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