Курсовая: The history of smart-cards and their place in modern Russia
St.Petersburg State University
Faculty Of Economics
the term paper
The History Of Smart-Cards and Their Place In Modern Russia
author: Victor Travin
What are plastic cards? What kinds of cards exist?.......... 2
Cards with magnetic line and memory-cards........................... 2
Smart-cards: step forward......................................................4
The developing of smart technology............................................ 5
Smart-cards appear in Russia...................................................7
Smart-cards as bank’s cards....................................................7
Smart-cards as corporate cards.................................................8
The place of smart-cards in modern Russia............................ 12
Plastic card payments in Internet.............................................14
Sources and literature........................................................16
Russian smart-cards market is one of the fastest developing sectors of
country’s financial market. The trial period which was over by 1995 allowed
its participants to learn technologies and problems that can be hit upon
while dealing with “cards” business. The fact that more then 500.000
international plastic cards were issued in Russia for several last years only
approves of the topicality of such payment systems.
What are plastic cards? What kinds of cards exist?
magnetic line and memory-cards
Cashless payment systems based on traditional cards with magnetic line are
dominating world wide. They achieved noticeable improvement in supplying card
owners with many kinds of services. But the fact of internal limits in
magnetic line cards leads to many new problems. These problems are: the
increase of financial risks and losses, administration expenses, technical
problems. This kind of cards has a lot of disadvantages that make their
operation in Russia in same scale as in Europe impossible. The most serious
disadvantage, in my opinion, is that such systems require on-line
authorization in stores and, as a consequence, they need well branched high
quality communication nets (e.g. telephone lines).Because of this fact
magnetic line cards systems have a serious restriction for their operation in
the countries with unsatisfactory state of telecommunication systems. I also
have to notice a low security level of magnetic line cards and the entire
technological chain of such systems. This often leads to great flow of
unprovided false transactions. This aspect is a serious obstacle to
developing magnetic card systems, especially in the countries with a high
level of criminality.
Memory-cards belong to chip-cards equipped with memory chip. Payment systems
based on memory cards have important advantages as compared with magnetic
line cards. They have a higher security level and the option of off-line
authorization in stores. Technical abilities of chip built in memory cards
define restrictions to their operating in payment systems though. We have
just the same problem here (as with magnetic line cards) – unsatisfactory
security level of any single card and system in general. Taking criminal
situation in Russia into consideration we have to admit that this kind of
cards can hardly find the appropriate place in modern Russia. This aspect
captures a special place when several banks are involved in one payment
system, where special attention should be paid to accident prevention and
authenticity of financial information, differentiation of responsibility for
keeping a secret information with transaction members. Main areas for memory-
cards are systems of limited access to accommodation and computer networks
(identification cards); telephone networks (cellular telephone network GSM);
payphone and metro cards, local payment systems (club cards). Certainly,
memory-cards will find their place, but obviously they will not be ruling in
Thus, magnetic line is a medium in magnetic line cards which lowers
reliability and makes multi recording impossible and requires on-line access.
The chip is a medium in memory-cards. Such cards can be used with off-line
access, multi recording is available, but the procedure is still complex.
Because of low security level running memory-cards is dangerous.
Smart-cards: step forward
Magnetic line cards market is now formed in all developed countries. Giant
infrastructure was created: processing centers, money access machine, trade
terminals, hundreds million cards in use, international standards are formed
and admitted. That is why magnetic line cards will be still in use for many
However, world leaders VISA, Europay, MasterCard have already declared about
inevitable conversion to smart-card technology in future. All of them started
developing future international standards for payment systems based on smart-
cards. Even in Europe where magnetic line cards are traditionally popular
smart-cards are winning one project after another.
The most successful introduction of smart-cards is supposed to take place in
the countries where magnetic cards hold a weak position; in the countries
without high quality well branched and reliable communication systems; in the
countries with a high criminal level where the population have a low credit
These days many Russian banks issue traditional magnetic cards of
international payment systems. However, such issues are definitely oriented
on concrete social consumer group and regions of their use are quite limited.
Now lets say some words about a smart-card. The medium in smart-cards is a
small processor chip. The identification area allows only one record while
personalizing the card and later available for reading only. Access to other
areas available only after the card holder entered the proper “key”. The
smart-cards security level is much higher than the magnetic cards one. As to
prices on smart-cards, they are higher, but they become lower and lower every
year as their technology is being improved and production scale is being
The smart-cards are small computers is some way. Modern smart-card chips
features can be compared with personal computers in early 80’s. Part of the
data located on a smart-card can be used only in internal card’s operations.
This fact together with high level cryptographic security makes smart-cards
valuable asset for financial systems demanding additional security and
reliability. Because of that smart-cards are now considered to be the most
promising kind of plastic cards. They can be also considered to be the most
promising for their features. Smart-cards counting abilities allow card
holder to keep multi-currency wallet. As predicted by VISA and
Europay/MasterCard, smart-cards will replace magnetic line cards within the
10 year period.
The developing of smart technology
First smart-cards appeared in France in the middle 70’s. The main advantages
as compared to magnetic line cards are higher reliability, security and
multifunctionality. The main disadvantage that it is still difficult to get
over is high prime cost.
Nevertheless, in early 90’s rapid growth of smart-cards market took place.
Thus, at the last smart-technology forum (SmartCard Forum), hosted in the
USA, statistical reports showed that the majority of magnetic line cards
owner would use smart-cards as electronic wallet if their bank issued such
But financial institutes that working with smart-cards have a lot of
questions at the moment. Many of these questions still do not have answers.
Here are the most popular ones:
ü How high is the level of smart-cards security?
ü What schemes should be used for transactions: open or secured?
ü How available and reasonable is the complete replacement of cash
with electronic money?
ü What authorization mode is better: on-line or off-line?
The fact of existence of these questions demonstrates that there is a high
interest in smart-cards connected with an ability to transform little sum
payments into cashless payments. Visa researches show that annually more then
1,8 trillion dollars happen to less then 10 dollars transaction. Obviously
operation of these payment through electronic cards is more than attractive.
But the organization of such transformation hits upon serious problems even
in well developed countries. In this case solving this problem with a help of
electronic wallets seems to be the most effective. According to Jean Jacques
Debone, the president of European branch of Visa International “the
development of smart-cards, allowing the client to make less then 8 dollar
payments, will treble bank’s cards profit”
Smart-cards appear in Russia
Smart-cards as bank’s cards
BGS Smartcard Systems AG is the official dealer and distributor of Visa
International smart-technologies is Russian and the former USSR market. It
was founded in 1997 and holds right for software and technologies of cashless
payments based on U.E.P.S standards. U.E.P.S. – universal electronic payment
system is a system based on smart-card technology. The main technological
feature of U.E.P.S. is that all transaction operations are done in off-line
mode trough direct contact of two smart-cards. BGS introduced several large
projects for Sberbank of Russia, Promstroybank, Inkombank and some other
banks and bank’ unions in Russia, the leading banks of Uzbekistan, Ukraine
and Kazakhstan. In September 1996 BGS signed the agreement with Visa
International on developing and migration of smart-card product COPAC
including U.E.P.S. as a basis. The matter for greater interest is joint
project with Sberbank on creating the united smart-card system (SberCard
cards). Taking scale of spreading and recent issue date into consideration we
can say that SberCard is on of the most promising card in Russia.
On Sep 13 1996 during annual meeting of banks-members of international
payment system VISA International announced a new product – a new plastic
card with microprocessor Chip Off-line Preauthorized Card. This product has
no special brand name yet, abbreviation COPAC was taken as a working version
of a brand name.
Since 1992 BGS company has exclusive right for distribution U.E.P.S
technology in the former USSR, Western Europe and Austria.
VISA International declared in the second quarter of 1997 of the new pilot
project with Sberbank of the Russian Federation and Inkombank (Union Card) on
introducing COPAC technology. After this the pilot project was over new COPAC
available world wide.
Smart-cards as corporate cards
The greatest company offering corporate integrates smart-cards systems in
Russia is IT company. Founded in 1990 today Information Technologies Co.
(I.T. Co.) ranks among the top three Systems Integrators in Russia, according
to the Dator marketing agency and Russian Computer Union opinion poll
statistics. Reporting annual revenues in excess of $27 Million, I.T. Co. has
deployed over 500 projects in Russia and the CIS for industrial enterprises,
trade companies, government, and financial institutions. In 1996, Computer
Press magazine granted I.T. Co. an award “For Outstanding Results in
Developing the Russian Computer Market”, and was included into the State
Registry of Quality Systems. Having extensive experience in the development
of information and computing systems, I.T. Co. has created a broad product
line of private-branded high-tech software and hardware solutions for the
local and international market. Since 1990, I.T.Co. has focused on meeting
the demands of what is now today's competitive global marketplace. As
businesses, large and small, progressively long for ways to interface with
all of their suppliers using one system -- a complete information management
system that is specifically designed with the customers' needs in mind, and
just as importantly, a system friendly to the bottom line -- I.T.Co. remains
on the forefront of technology, delivering a quality product on time, and on
I.T. company has developed their own conception of smart-card systems
CmartCity. Besides SmartCity technology department proceeds developing and
promotion of new systems of controlling and managing banking accounts through
Internet. This project is based on the client-server software on personal
finance managing DEKART, a new solution in electronic commerce area.
SmartCity is a “card” product of I.T. The company together with its
suppliers created several large-scaled projects based on this system.
I would like to stress three projects of this company in Russia.
One. Cashless payment system “Meta Card” based on SmartCity technology for
Metkombank, Cherepovetz. System projected “power” is 50.000 cards, with 300
trade terminals. This number covers 75% of town’s stores and trade points and
services. The card holder can use his card not even in Cherepovetz but in
Metkombank affiliates in Vologda too.
Two. Cashless payment system for gas filling station “LICard” also SmartCity
product. This system was created for oil company Lukoil and Imperial Bank in
Volgograd, Perm, Vologda, Cheliabinsk and Baku for 100.000 cards. Further
developing of the project provides organization of cashless payment for
Lukoil gas station on entire territory on Russia with 300.000 cards issued
Three. Cashless payment system for Purneftegas in Gubkinsky in Tumen region.
This project provides 31.000 cards. More then 100 terminals were installed to
deal with smart-cards in food, bakery stores, airline booking offices. All in
all in 50 trading and servicing places in Gubkinsky.
Lets take a proper look at “LICard” project. In my opinion, it is the most
Lukoil corporation has big and constantly growing number of filling stations
in all regions of Russia and many countries of the former USSR. The company
plans not only further grown of number of gas stations but also widening the
specter of provided services including cashless payments by plastic cards.
While creating corporate electronic payment system on company’s filling
stations and terminals the following aims were pointed out:
ü Increase of financial arrivals to Lukoil;
ü Creating of information database for making managing decisions;
ü Exploring new sales markets.
Lukoil fuel cards are used in several regions (Volgograd, Chelyabinsk, Perm
and others) for years. In every separate region cards functionate well. But
the problem of unite system was not solved yet. The card holder cannot use
his card in another region but only where he has bought his card. That’s why
the question of unification of the system of electronic payments appeared
where cards could be acceptable at every filling station.
The main criterion while choosing the technology for organizing cashless
payments was the low level of telecommunication systems in Russia, which
makes on-line transaction almost impossible. Thus, it was decided to use
smart-cards to operate the special processing center instead of on-line
transactions (off-line). The second argument for smart-cards was high
security level of recorded on smart-card information. Besides, smart-cards
are available for many kinds of application which was also important for this
It was decided to use smart-cards produced by GemPlus company in SmartCity
technology for creating corporate electronic payment system for Lukoil
filling station. Every person or company can become a card owner.
Before going somewhere a car driver put his money on his smart-card or money
can be transferred by an organization. And now our driver travels with a
plastic card instead or a huge wallet full of money for his trip. When
filling at Lukoil gas station corresponding sum of money is written off from
his smart-card. If using smart-card driver gets 3-7% discount.
By the end of 1997 LICard system has been in action in greater part of
Russia. Noticeable growth of personal LICard owners was hit upon for the
LICard has three levels the scale of ranks as to its organization:
1. Low level. Regional agencies and service offices, and filling
2. Middle level. Regional processing centers and regional representative
offices of LICard;
3. High level. Application center and interregional processing center
Transfers between regional centers are carried out through the interregional
processing center. This action allows any filling station to receive money
even if no money was put on the card.
This project can real working example of applying smart-cards for corporate
needs. But I would like to notice that not all features were used in this
project. Using some additional wallets project owner could have more
effective and profitable system.
The place of smart-cards in modern Russia
In this chapter I mean smart-cards under “plastic cards” term. Because
magnetic line cards and memory cards have little chance for success in
Our plastic cards market is rather a collage picture. Before 90’s plastic
cards was so badly known that they even were not shown in Soviet films that
showed disadvantages of Western style of living. Meanwhile, plastic cards
are so deeply integrated in American and Western style of living that person
who has rather big sum of money is cash almost immediately gains the
reputation of a criminal.
Plastic cards are not so wide spread in Russia as in Europe and of course in
the United States. Obviously, the reason is in the lack of necessity of
everyday cashless payments We also have to take average income in our country
into consideration which, unfortunately does not let many citizens to have
enough free money to place then on a card. There are still many obstacles in
operating plastic cards in Russia: from simple tradition to call pieces of
paper in a pocket money to elementary distrust, fear to become a victim of
another “MMM” speculation project.
Hence placing plastic card into operation in further 3-5 year would not bring
a satisfactory result to any bank, no matter how reliable it is. The success
can be reached only by uniting all existing systems into one national payment
system. But this perspective is now very attractive to the majority of banks
as they are afraid to depend on bigger and stronger banking groups. Beside
that the present level of telecommunication systems and banking equipment
will not let such project to be realized. And great investments are needed
for many banks to proceed the convertion from magnetic line cards to smart-
cards. That’s why I consider putting smart-cards into operation in Russia
rather disappointing in the nearest years.
I think the solution of this problem is in replacing existing systems of
cashless payments with smart-cards technology. Lets take transport fuel
coupons as an example. Obviously, introducing plastic cards in this sphere
will meet the lowest resistance of citizens who got accustomed to other kinds
of cashless payment for fuel. Such systems are good for both: people and oil
companies. People are glad to carry one small card instead of a bunch of
coupons and to be sure that nobody else would use their fuel credit even if
their card is stolen. Oil companies gets valuable assets with such systems as
they ensure themselves from serious losses connected with coupon
falsification. And if we mention speeding up money return, it becomes
absolutely clear that such systems will soon appear in our life. After fuel
smart cards are introduced, additional wallets can be added to the same
cards. For example, on one and the same card fuel credits can be recorded (in
litres), some technical service for cliens car (in working hours), dinners in
filling station cafe (in number of dinners). It that situation our driver can
travel with a little sum in cash and his smart-card.
Besides, using plastic cards instead of coupons territory depending problem
can be easily solved, as direct and strong “coupon” connections already
exists through oil companies.
Thus, in my opinion, the process of introduction plastic cards should start
not from banking but from trading sphere. The ideal case could be the
combination of corporate, banking and international cards into one.
Plastic card payments in Internet
Another stimulus for developing smart-cards is active growth of selling
trough international computer network Internet. Unfortunately it has not
received enough development in Russia. Although there are companies selling
goods through Internet (music CD, books, computer) payments are still
processed after an old manner: client pays the money after he gets the good
at the post office. Hence there are some noticeable losses because of payment
The situation in Europe and the United States is quite different. Companies
sell almost everything from pens to cars and cottages through Internet and
such activities give real profit. For example, on 10 May 1999 Apple virtual
computer store sold equipment on more than 1.9 million dollars – a record
during short history on Internet selling.
In trading part of the Internet the decision to converse from magnetic line
cards to smart-cards has been discussed for more then 3 years. As e-companies
incur constant losses because of low security level of magnetic line cards If
such decision is made we will have the right to say that it will be a final
victory of smart-cards over their out of date congeners.
The above analysis of operating smart-cards as modern international payment
tools allows me to make the following conclusions:
1. Impressing results are reached in realization of smart-technology and
applying different kinds of plastic cards payment systems in international
2. The process of developing plastic cards as universal payment systems
is in a phase of rapid growth in Russia
3. There is a clear tendency of intellectualization of plastic cards,
based on modern technology chip equipment and electronic communications.
4. Year 2000 will define tendencies of plastic cards developing once and
5. The most promising way of introducing smart-cards in big Russian
cities is in creating local systems of small sum cashless payments with their
further unification into one national cashless payment system.
Sources and literature
1. Mike Hendry. Smart Card Security and Applications (Artech House
Telecommunications Library). Artech House. September
2. Catherine A. Allen. Smart Cards : Seizing Strategic Business
Opportunities : The Smart Card Forum. Irwin Professional Pub. November
3. Jose Luis Zoreda. Smart Cards. Artech House. December 1994
4. Ron E. Gielgun. 1 Business, 2 Approaches : How to Succeed in
Internet Business by Employing Real-World Strategies. Actium
Publishing. September 1998
5. Bruce J. McLaren, Constance H. McLaren. E- Commerce : Business
on the Internet (Computer Applications Series). South-Western Pub.
1. WWW-server of Visa Internetional http://www.visa.com
2. WWW-server of MasterCard International. http://www.mastercard.com
3. WWW-server of BGS Smartcard Systems AG. http://www.bgs.ru
4. WWW-server of company «I.T.» http://www.it.ru
Erik Przekof. Consumer Credit Counseling Services. Farmington Hills, MI, USA
Tyra Turnquest. CCCS of the Gulf Coast & Money Management International.
Houston, TX, USA