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Technical Glossary

Adjacent Sub Interval Variation This measurement refers to the size of “1" bits in comparison to the size of the adjacent previous bit. A comparison is made between the size of the first half of the current “1" bit compared to the previous bit divided by 2. This is expressed as a percentage value.

American National Standards Institute

ANSI 322  American National Standard for information technology – card durability test methods.
ATR Answer To Reset. This is the data response returned from an Integrated Circuit card following an electrical reset. This serves as a fundamental functional check of the card.
Authentication The process of establishing if an individual or identity are who they claim to be.
Bit Density  The number of bits that can be stored per unit of area. The greater this number, the greater the storage capacity.
Bit-to-Bit Variation This measurement refers to the size of the current bit in comparison to the previous bit. This is expressed as a percentage value.
Branch Encoder Is the name we typically use when referring to the encoder that is used to encode encrypted customer select PIN information to a card. There are many names that are used for this type of encoder, including customer select PINing device and card activation terminal. Normally these are distributed throughout a branch network, where they are easily accessible by card holder clients. These can either be manual swipe (typically) or motorised units.
Bulk Encoder/Embosser This is the rather expensive piece of automated machinery that encodes (writes) data to the stripe, and embosses information in the plastic. Some models can process many cards per hour. Blank card stock is normally loaded into hoppers, which are fed into the machine, one at a time.
CCD Common Core Definitions, defines a common data element and its format for the purpose of accomplishing an EMV transaction.
Clocking zeros These are a series of consecutive zero bits that are found preceding the start sentinel and after the end sentinel. They are used by many readers to synchronise to the speed of which the card swiped.
Contactless Card Card with embedded integrated circuits capable of processing data and exchanging it using radio frequencies via an internal antenna.
Chromalin Design  Checking that a colour proof is correct, before its final printing phase.
Demagnetise To wipe or erase magnetically stored information from a device.
Digital Signature  A mathematical method for proving the authenticity of a digital message, as well as ensuring it is not tampered with in transit.
Dual Interface Card Integrated Circuit card using a contactless connection to the IC in addition to a physical connection to the IC via electrical contacts.
EEPROM Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory, is a type of memory used in electronic devices to store small amounts of data. Data in these devices is retained even when power is not supplied.
EMV A standard originally developed by Europay, MasterCard & VISA for interoperability of Integrated Circuit ('Chip') cards, POS (Point Of Sale) terminals & ATM's to authenticate financial transactions.
Encode This refers to the process where datan (typically) is written onto the stripe by specialised equipment.
Encryption The process of converting information into an unreadable form, using an algorithm often referred to as cipher. This information can then only be read by those possessing the key to the algorithm, the idea being that unauthorised parties cannot eavesdrop on sensitive information.
End Sentinel This is an encoded ISO defined character on the magnetic stripe which signals the end of the card data. The encoding after the end sentinel consists of clocking zeros, and sometimes a check digit.
ESD Electrostatic Discharge is the release of static electricity, caused when two materials come into contact and are then separated. Some electronic devices are ESD sensitive, and measures must be put in place to prevent damage occurring.
Full-duplex  A communications system, in which both communicating parties can simultaneously send and receive signals from the each other.
Half-duplex A communications system in which signals can flow bi-directionally, but only in one direction at a time.
High Coercivity Also know as HiCo, this is a term primarily given to a type of magnetic tape that displays high resistance to being erased. Specialised equipment, with higher current outputs, is required to encode data to a HiCo stripe. This tape will resist erasure from most commonly found magnets.
Hybrid Card A single card that offers access to multiple accounts, such as a credit account and a debit account.
IEC The International Electrotechnical Commission is a body of experts, which publishes electrical and electronic standards internationally.
Integrated Circuit  A miniaturised electronic circuit imprinted onto a semiconducting material, capable of complex decision-making.
Interoperability Is the ability of a system, to work in conjunction with another system.
ISO International Organisation for Standardisation. They form the specialised system for worldwide standardisation.
ISO/IEC–7810 Identification cards – physical characteristics standard.
ISO/IEC-7811  Identification cards – recording techniques standard.
ISO/IEC-7816  Identification cards – integrated circuit cards standard.
ISO/IEC–10373  Identification cards - test methods, associated with the 7810 standard.
ISO/IEC-14443  Identification cards – contactless integrated circuit cards – proximity cards standard.
ISO/IEC-17025  General requirements for the competence of testing and calibrating laboratories.
ISO/IEC-24789 Identification cards – card service life standard.
Jitter This primarily is a colloquial term for bit to bit variation and adjacent sub interval variation. That is, the size of the current bit in question, when compared to the previous bit, expressed as a percentage of the previous bit. For bit to bit variation, the difference between the current bit and previous bit is calculated, then this difference is expressed as a percentage of the size of the previous bit (size difference/size of previous bit x 100). Adjacent the first half transition peak to transition peak) of the current one bit is compared to half the size of the previous bit ((difference between the size of first half of current one bit and the size of previous bit)/(size of previous bit/2)x100). The "jitter" values are important because this is how readers decode card data (decide whether a bit is a one or zero), on a bit compared to previous bit measurement (of course as a time measurement). This especially helps swipe readers, without accurate speed monitoring components, to cope with the huge variation in swipe speeds and accelerations.
Low Coercivity Also know as LoCo, this primarily refers to magnetic tape that is easily affected by contact with magnets, i.e. it displays low resistance to being erased. It requires a low level of current to encode data to the stripe.
Oersted A unit representing magnetic field strength in Amperes per meter (A/m).
Opacity Describes how much light or other radiation is transmitted through a material.
Protocol A set of rules or standards, used to ensure accurate communication between systems.
Proximity Card Contactless card capable over operating over short distances up to approximately 75 mm.
RF(Radio-Frequency) Induction  Where a radio frequency is passed through a wire coil, generating a signal, which then can be picked up by a second coil if in close proximity.
SC17 ISO Subcommittee 17, contains a range of working groups covering card logistics.
Signal Amplitude This is a reference to strength of the magnetic signal coming from the card once it is encoded. It is measured as a voltage when the card is passed over a read head. This voltage is expressed as a percentage of a reference signal amplitude from a master standard magnetic tape.
Smart Card Card containing an Integrated Circuit, with connection made either by electrical contacts, or using radio frequency.
Start Sentinel This is an encoded ISO defined character on the magnetic stripe which signals the start of the actual card data. The encoding preceding the start sentinel consists of clocking zeros.
Vicinity Card Contactless card capable over operating over distances typically around 1 to 1.5 meters.
WG 1  The ISO/IEC Working Group 1, is a body of experts focused on developing physical characteristics, card durability standards and test methods for magnetic stripe cards.

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