MiFare contactless smart cards (and MiFare card reader/writers) were developed to handle payment transactions for public transportation systems. It was suspected that contactless ID cards could be processed more quickly than smart cards having contacts.
This is because contactless smart cards - also called “proximity cards” - need only to be proximate to a card reader for them to work. They don’t need to be swiped.
In the subways, this was confirmed. It was also found that contactless ID card readers required less maintenance than traditional smart card readers, and subjected ID cards themselves to less wear.
As security badges and employee ID cards, proximity cards work because they have antennas embedded within them which transmit radio waves. Information is embodied in the shapes these waves take. Proximity cards that contain programmable electronic chips can change the information they store and send out. Therefore these kind of proximity cards are called “smart cards”.
MiFare refers to one kind of contactless RIFD ID Card. The name “MiFare” is presently a registered trademark of Philips Semiconductor. While Philips makes neither ID cards nor readers, they do make and sell the chips that allow both ID cards and ID card readers to store and access information.
The other principle way to encode smart ID cards is by using iCLASS encoding technology.