Austria CardAn interview with Konstantinos Lagios, Chief Commercial Officer at Austria Card.

We met with Konstantinos Lagios from Austria Card, a leading European smart card expert. He tells us why the quality of the card body is gaining importance in spite of surging electronic components, what governments can do to get the most secure ID-solution, and which trends await us.

Mr. Lagios, can you tell us how Austria Card positions itself in the ID-sector?

Secure identification requires a complex eco-system, and to have the ideal solution each component must be top-notch. For decades we have focused on the card body, and we have had our own operating system for almost fifteen years. It is impossible to be the best in every category, so we focus on what we do best. This is why we notice issuing authorities increasingly knocking on our doors. They value our independence. Also, our approach leaves ample space for other vendors who are the best-in-class for their components.

My advice to governments is: Choose the solution specific to your needs instead of a black box – one size does not fit all. Governments should strive for the best-in-class for every component, because using standardized products makes you susceptible to counterfeiting attempts in the first place.

With all the new possibilities arising through electronic identification, is the card body turning into a simple carrier for the chip?

On the contrary. We are working with governments all over the world, and whether it is ID-cards, driving licenses, or health cards, the demand for high quality physical security features is rising. Today a simple hologram won’t be enough. Not even the latest features will be secure if used in isolation. This is why Austria Card offers dozens of different security elements. The key is to combine them. There are four different levels of security features according to what is required to verify the authenticity. If you include multiple elements on multiple levels it will make the cards literally unforgeable. Try to copy a card with UV-print, guilloches, rainbow print, CLI/MLI features, and microtext – it will inevitably fail.

Furthermore, costs and security can be improved by advancements in the card body material. For the Austrian health card we have developed and shipped six million cards with a new card material (T4-med), in which the layers are made of environmentally friendly plastic foils with a high bending-resistance and robustness, similar to PC, but at the same time at a smaller weight to optimize costs for postal expenses. In addition, these cards are free of Bisphenol A or any other carcinogenic substances. The card is based on a sandwich construction and does not require any adhesives.

So what trends do you think will shape the identification sector?

There is a lot of buzz in the industry about the next big thing, but the one development I am very confident about is convergence. ID cards will become more functional. For example, in our project for the Nigerian government we have shipped the world’s first ID card with credit card functionality. Returning to the importance of card bodies, this means that even higher demands are placed on the physical card. Manufacturers do not only have to comply with the government’s standards, but also need to have certifications by the payment schemes such as Visa or MasterCard. This will ensure that only companies with the highest possible security standards can produce it.

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