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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

Reader

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.

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