What Technology To Choose And Why

What technology to choose & why

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All of the various card formats that we supply will be printed with your fully customised artwork as well as any other required information that you would like printed.  This includes such things as an expiry date, a dollar value on pre-paid cards, membership numbers, photo ID, etc.

We have an in house design team that will be able to assist with the artwork for your printed cards.

The cards can be produced in many various shapes and sizes such as the standard sized cards (like your credit card), smaller keyring cards, adhesive buttons, shaped like a coffee cup, etc.

 

Before ordering any cards, you need to make the decision on which type of technology you will use for your card program.  There are a variety of options with different strengths and weaknesses which you should understand before moving forward.

The main options are Magnetic Cards, Barcoded Cards, RFID Cards or Tags, and NFC.

Magnetic cards

What are they?

Magnetic cards have been in use for many years (first used in the early 1960’s!) and we generally use them every day.  The black stripe at the back of your bank cards, medicare card, and many membership cards is a magnetic strip that contains the relevant encoded information.  The advent of newer technologies (listed below) is predicted to bring about the end of the magnetic cards but due to their low cost and simple use they still remain a robust and reliable choice.

There are 3 available “tracks” on magnetic cards, this means that different (or the same) information can be encoded up to 3 times per magnetic stripe.  Track number 3 is not widely and may not always be present on the card.

 

How are they read?

To read Magnetic cards a Magnetic card reader is required.  Most card readers built into Point of Sale (POS) terminals will have the ability to read tracks 1 and 2 but some will only read either track 1 or track 2.  For this reason it is the sensible option to get the same information (such as customer number) encoded onto both tracks 1 and 2.

 

Advantages

  • The cards are inexpensive to produce compared with other available formats
  • Simple to use with basically no training
  • With the card number printed you will be able to manually enter the car number if the magnetic card reader stops functioning
  • We can encode each card with your own desired information supplied to us in a spreadsheet

 

Disadvantages

  • Generally the cards must be handed over to the staff member who would swipe it on the mag card reader attached to the POS
  • Limited storage capacity
  • Sometimes the mag stripe can wear down and become less sensitive meaning multiple swipes through the reader may be required
  • The encoded information can be destroyed easily by strong magnetic fields

 

When to use them

These are ideal if you already have a magnetic card reader on your system and need to encode something small such as a membership number.

Barcode cards

 

What are they?

A card that has a printed barcode or QR code that contains the information that you require to program.  With a barcode this information is typically just a number such as the customer account number, staff ID, etc.  QR codes can contain much more data such as URL’s, contact data, email addresses, etc.

 

How are they read?

Any scanner will be able to read the standard barcode, but not all scanners will have the ability to read a QR code.  If you decide to use a QR code you must ensure that your scanner will work, a simple Google search of the scanner model should give you that answer or alternatively you could try scanning a QR code to see if it picks it up.  You can view our scanners here

 

Advantages

  • Along with Magnetic cards these are the cheapest to produce
  • If you already have a scanner to sell in store items you can make use of the same scanner for your barcode cards
  • Very quick, easy and accurate – just present the barcode to the scanner
  • With the barcode number printed along with the barcode you will be able to manually enter the barcode number if the scanner stops functioning
  • We can encode each card with your own desired information supplied to us in a spreadsheet

 

Disadvantages

  • Barcodes can be easily copied so if security is important barcodes are not the best option

 

When to use them

If your system already uses a barcode scanner then this would be an ideal choice.  Scanners are generally slightly more expensive than magnetic card readers but with the speed of use we find them to be the better option.


RFID Cards and Tags

What are they?

Radio Frequency Identification is a technology that uses radio waves to transmit the card or tag data directly to an RFID reader.

RFID is used extensively in many industries ranging from microchipping of pets, tagging of items on a production line to track its progress, attached to clothing, and of course cards and tags used for customer or staff identification.

 

How are they read?

RFID cards and tags must be read through an RFID reader.  As there are various standard frequencies for RFID you must ensure that the card or tag you select has the correct frequency so that it can be read by your reader.  We supply both the RFID reader along with the card or tags so you can be certain that they will function together.

 

Advantages

  • RFID readers can read cards in milliseconds with a simple tap and go
  • You can have the RFID reader customer facing so they can simply tap their own card meaning quicker transactions
  • Great where security is important such as access control

 

Disadvantages

  • RFID systems are more expensive than other options available
  • The more cost effective RFID come with a randomly generated code, if you need specific account numbers programmed the cost increases.
  • Basic RFID cards have no security so they can be read by any RFID reader on the same frequency

 

When to use them

We believe that RFID is the best choice if you are implementing a new system or you do not already own a scanner or magnetic card reader.

They are extremely fast, accurate and with the reader positioned correctly staff will not need to handle the card at all.  You also have much more option in the size and shape of your RFID cards or tags, they come in standard cards, small tags, coffee cup shapes, etc.

 

NFC

What are they?

Near Field Communication is a set of communication protocols that allow two devices to communicate with each other when brought in close.  Visa PayWave uses NFC technology and NFC functionality is built into most new mobile phones.

NFC is a relatively newer technology and still has higher start-up costs than the other card methods listed.

 

How are they read?

You will require a reader that is able to collect the NFC information

 

Advantages

  • NFC tags or cards can be writable, meaning with the correct equipment the card itself can hold a cash value
  • As more mobile devices add NFC they become more convenient
  • They are versatile and can used for a wide range of services such as movie passes, reward points, train tickets, etc.
  • Store a large amount of data
  • Can be programmed for various functions like launching an app

 

Disadvantages

  • Expensive despite the advent of many mobile devices coming out with NFC chips
  • Short range, typically requiring a separation of less than 4cm
  • As with other wireless technology security can be an issue as the cards can be read from a distance

 

When to use them

NFC provides the quickest way to set up connections between electronic devices and provides the fastest solution for file transfer between handsets in close proximity