I predict that 2007 will be a significant year for smart ID cards. This will be the year in which significant numbers of standardised smart ID cards will be available in interoperable form from a significant number of suppliers.

Each time in the past when we have specified smart ID cards (e.g. Amex Blue, Hong Kong ID card, etc) they have been based on existing standards but have had to have been largely bespoke because of the absence of relevant application-level standard specifications for the kinds of things required of these cards. This has been bad for the ID card schemes and their users, because limited use is guaranteed due to the lack of standard ‘Points of Use’ that can recognise the cards.

So why am I so positive about next year?

Well, October 2006 happens to be the deadline set by President Bush for all US Federal staff to be issued with smart ID cards. Over the last year or so since the mandate was issued, NIST has been working on a standard known as FIPS 201 for a Personal Identity Verification (PIV) card that fills all the missing gaps in the standards. This includes an accreditation and interoperability testing programme for supplier products before they are allowed on the approved products list. http://www.secureidnews.com/library/2006/06/09/ssp-competition-heats-as-vendors-align-to-issue-certificates-for-new-piv-cards/

Due to the large number of card and associated systems to be procured, suppliers will be bending over backwards to have their approved. It will only be a matter of time before this US standard becomes accepted elsewhere, simply because it covers the requirements of most ID cards and there will be multiple interoperable sources of supply.

In short, PIV promises to be the EMV of smart ID cards. I am reliably informed (Scott Guthery, Mobile Mind) that there are already four approved card implementations, two for MULTOS and two for Java Card.

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