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Smart Card Readers - An Essential Part of Every Smart Card System

Smart chip card readers are sophisticated devices with built-in intelligence. Smart card readers are found in PCs, Notebooks, Servers, smart phones, Set-Top-Boxes. Some readers come with integrated secure PIN pads, displays, or fingerprint sensors. This allows multi-factor authentication for secure logical access control. Combining smart cards with biometrics can make smart cards even more convenient and secure because instead of entering a PIN, a biometric credential is used to access the smart card system.

Here are some state-of-the-art smart card readers we are using in our projects:

Smart Card Readers
Examples of HID OMNIKEY Smart Card Readers

Smart card readers are becoming increasingly prevalent.

Smart card readers are also known as card readers, smart card programmers, card terminals, card acceptance devices (CAD), or interface devices (IFD).


Desktop Smart Card Reader


The most common smart card readers read ISO 7816 compliant cards. These are credit card-sized smart cards with contacts.

Smart card readers are used to read data from and write data to smartcards. Card readers can easily be integrated into a PC running Windows.

OMNIKEY CardMan 3121 USB smart card reader
Desktop Smart Card Reader

Some computer systems come already equipped with a built-in smart card reader.

As contactless smart cards are being deployed in more places, smart card readers that support ISO 14443 and ISO 15693 contactless cards are becoming more prevalent.

smart card reader for ISO 14443 and ISO 15693
Contactless Smart Card Reader
for Mifare, iCLASS, and CPU cards

Smart card readers will soon be an integral part of any standard PC. However, currently you still need to connect a reader as peripheral device – CCID compliant I/O over USB port is the most commonly used  connection.

USB CCID Smart Card Reader for
used for mobile applications

Smart card readers are used as smart card programmers to configure and personalize integrated circuit cards.

This means that not only CPU-based smart cards, but also simple memory cards, can be programmed using a smart card reader.

(Of course, the card reader must support the appropriate protocol such as the asynchronous T=0, T=1 or synchronous I2C protocols.)

Dual interface Smart Card Reader contact and contactless cards

Smart card readers can also be found in the form of a USB dongle – a great way to develop a hardware token and deploy reader and card in one device.

USB dongles are also frequently used with GSM phones containing a SIM smart card. Phone numbers can be edited on a PC using a USB smart card dongle.

Smart Card USB dongle for SIM cards

Smart Card USB dongle –
a Smartcard reader/writer for SIM cards

Smart card readers can also write to smart cards. So, when someone talks about a smart card reader they really mean a smart card reader/writer.

Certain cardreaders already come with advanced security features such as secure PIN entry, secure display or even integrated fingerprint scanners for the next-generation of multi-layer security and three-factor authentication.
(discontinued reader)

class 4 Smart Card Reader terminal for secure PIN entry
PC-link Smart Card Reader
for secure PIN entry


Smart card readers are also available as chipsets for reader integration on board level into embedded systems such as intelligent printers, USB dongles, smart card encoders for card printers.
contact us for more information about smart card readers
  • Easy-to-use chip card integration with .NET library
.NET library for chip cards

with C# and VB.NET sample code for Mifare, DESFire EV1, JavaCard, KVK, eGK, SIM, PIV, CAC, HID Prox, iCLASS, SEOS and many more