5. Near Field Communication

Look into the Future

How does it work?      

  • Near Field Communication (NFC) technology NFC Enabled smart phones = store and operate information from contactless smart cards, thus transforming the smart phone to a single information source to access different application portals e.g. transport, payment, access control, identification (boarding pass), etc.
  • The technology works through radio waves, similar to how contactless smart card works.

Huge potential in the future for ISIC        

  • According to Juniper Research, 1 in five smart phones are expected to be NFC enabled by 2014, reaching 300 million NFC enabled smart phones globally. North America is expected to contribute half of the growth, followed by Europe (France in particular) as the second largest market.
  • According to KPMG, 24% of people (9600 respondents in 31 countries) around the world are now opting to pay using a mobile phone in shops, instead of using cash and cards. North America is expected to contribute to half of the growth, with Europe on second place.
  • Though these expectations might be optimistic, it might take some more time for the technology to be globally implemented, ISIC Global follows the trends and developments and will include them in the project of the ISIC Cloud.

4. Contactless Smart Card

How does it work?

  • Contactless smart card = any pocket-sized card with embedded integrated circuits that can process and store data, communicates with a terminal via radio waves.  
  • Just like its predecessor, contactless smart card has the degree of functionality and additionally the convenience of contactless transaction. 
  • Basically, it is a chip card equipped with an antenna.


  • Applications can be found on various forms such as transport card, payment card & banking card, identification card, credit card, access card, etc.
  • For example, NL started to use contactless smart card to replace all paper public transport ticket nationwide in circa 2010. Users need to top up the ticket card in order to use it, where by the fare will be debited from.
  • In the US, MasterCard introduced PayPass® card (credit, debit, and prepaid) a couple of years ago to add extra convenience to its customers.


MIFARE is the brand of contactless chip:

  • 50 million reader and 5 billion card components sold worldwide       
  • Available in 650 cities around the world
  • Market share of more than 77% in the automatic fare collection industry

It is to expect that MIFARE chip will be compatible almost everywhere around the world.


The main advantages of contactless smart card are :

  • Highly practical and convenient    
  • Fast transaction speed
  • Multi functional due to its high ability to process data
  • 2 chips can be combined into 1 card

 Points to consider:

  • Higher production cost
  • New technology (reader  + encoder + server), thus joint investment is required
  • Virtually no user control + risk of radio frequency interception

Case Study

  • ISIC Slovakia Academic Co-brand: All private and public universities are co-branded with ISIC and equipped with a Mifare Classic 4KB chip + Mifare Desfire chip and these are used for access management school, library, copy machines, access to public transport on buses, trains, and inner city transports as well as ID card.
  • ISIC Switzerland IFA University: The card is used for access control and payment for using copying machines at the school. The card is equipped with Mifare Classic 1KB.
  • ISIC Taiwan: ISIC EasyCard: The ISIC–EasyCard co-branded card is used for payment card, school card, and also used in Taipei Metro network as transport card.
  • ISIC France EM Lyon (Lyon School of Management)The EM Lyon co-branded card is equipped with a Mifare 1k chip and is used for the school’s access control, payment method in different premises within the school; e.g. cafeteria, library, etc.

3. Contact Smart Card

How does it work?

  • Smart card or chip card, or integrated circuit card (ICC) = any pocket-sized card with embedded integrated circuits.
  • Contact smart cards have a contact area of approximately 1 square centimetre (0.16 sq in), comprising several gold-plated contact pads. These pads provide electrical connectivity when inserted into a reader, which is used as a communications medium between the smart card and a host (e.g., a computer, a point of sale terminal) or a mobile telephone.
  • Cards do not contain batteries; power is supplied by the card reader. You can find such a chip in your SIM card or a typical credit card.
  • it is may be used as all-in-one card that can be used for access control and payment method at school, financial transaction as normal bank cards, and as ISIC Card. 


  • Applications can be found on various forms such as payment card & banking card, identification card,  credit card, access card, etc.
  • For example, in Germany, all bank cards are equipped with a chip that stores the card holder’s information such as birth date, name, address, and bank account number. This information is used as identification by cigarettes vending machines across the country to allow access only when the holder is older than 17 years old. The chip also stores a small amount of money that will be deducted by the vending machine after completing purchase. 

The main advantages of contact smart card are :

  • Data processing ability      
  • High security level
  • Bigger data storage      
  • High durability
  • Commonly produced by banks & financial institutions

Points to consider:

  • Relatively more expensive      
  • Geographically exclusive


  • Almost in all cases, banks will provide you with the reader. You can also easily buy the reader online or from local reseller. The option also extends to smartphone and tablet PC, with a lot of vendors offering, not only hardware, but also payment processing services.

2. Magnetic Stripe

How Does It Work?

A magnetic stripe card is  a  type  of  card  capable  of  storing  data  by  modifying the magnetism of tiny iron-based magnetic particles on a band of magnetic material on the card. The magnetic stripe is read by swiping it past a magnetic reading head. On ISIC Standard cards (ISIC, IYTC, ITIC) the magnetic stripe can be found on the card’s reverse side.  The magnetic stripe is used to store the ISIC serial number on track 2 for verification purpose when needed. The magnetic stripe is used as method of payment, e.g. make usage of copy machines and printers within the university area. A small amount of money is stored in the magnetic stripe.

The stripe is divided to 3 tracks, in each of which the data can be stored:

  1. Track One: Alphanumerical Data; 210 bits/inch
  2. Track Two: Numerical Data; 75 bits/inch
  3. Track Three: Virtually unused

There are 2 types of magnetic stripe you can choose from:

HiCo (High Coercivity)

  • Requires a higher amount of magnetic energy to record ( 4000 Oe)
  • Harder to erase (life span > 3 years)
  • Best for cards requiring long life e.g. bank card, credit card, school card, etc.
  • More expensive encoder; reads & writes on both types
  • Recording up to 250 characters

LoCo (Low Coercivity)

  • Requires a lower amount of magnetic energy to record (300 Oe)
  • Less durable (life span < 3 years)
  • Best for infrequent use e.g. hotel key card, etc.
  • Cheaper encoder; reads & writes only
  • LoCo Recording up to 250 characters

Applications & Advantages

Most common uses of magnetic stripe are:

  • Identification       
  • Verification

The main advantages of magnetic stripe are :

  • Globally standardized
  • Standard option for Standard Cards 
  • Usage tracking
  • Quick data retrieval

 Points to consider:

  • Risk of data security
  • Magnetic interference
  • Data capacity


There are abundant amount of options when it comes to buying magnetic stripe reader, ranging from low – end to top – end readers. Nowadays there are even reader for smartphone and tablet PC available on the market.

1. Barcodes

Usage and Barcode Types

Barcode=optical machine-readable representation of data relating to the object to which it is attached.

Originally barcodes systematically represented data by varying the widths and spacing of parallel lines (bars), and may be referred to as linear or one-dimensional (1D). Later they evolved into rectangles, dots, hexagons and other geometric patterns in two dimensions (2D). The ISIC serial number or the student’s details are encoded in Barcode. The Barcode is used to control access in and around the university’s facilities e.g. cafeteria, class rooms, library, etc., and verification such as in campus shop, copying machine, etc.

There are various types of Barcode used in various degree, but below are the most commonly used Barcodes worldwide:

UPC (Universal Product Code)

Used in retails worldwide. International standard is ISO/IEC 15420. It encodes only numeric data, up to 12 characters.


Code 128

Used in various sectors e.g. logistics (tracking), automotive, retails, etc. International standard is ISO/IEC 15417. It encodes 128 Characters (A- Z, a-z, 0 – 9, basic punctuations, space)


Code 39

Used in various sectors e.g. logistics (tracking), automotive, retails, etc. International standard is ISO/IEC 16388. It encodes 43 Characters (A- Z, 0 – 9, -, . , $, /, +, %, and space)


 QR (Quick Response) Code

Used heavily in marketing because it can also encode URLs, images, music, emails, in addition to vast amount of characters and character types. International standard is ISO/IEC 18004


Applications & Advantages

 Most common uses of Barcode are:

  • Access control
  • Identification
  • Usage tracking

The main advantages of Barcode are:

  • Simple technology and easy to implement      
  • Low investment
  • Widely available

Points to consider:

  • Limited functionality      
  • Low security level



Nowadays, you can buy off-the-shelve Barcode readers easily. A quick search on the internet will show you prices. You can also download Barcode reading application  for your  smart phone  for free.