When we use the term "card technologies", what do we mean? The easy answer is - any technology that can be placed on a card. What is a card? Typically we think of our credit or bank card but there are other sizes and materials used for different applications. The card can be made of plastic (polyester, pvc, or some other material) or paper, card, or even some amalgamation of materials. The common point is that the card is used to provide "access" to something and it includes some form of AIDC (automatic identification and data capture) technology.
There are currently three main technologies we think of when we mention card technologies. These are magnetic stripe, smart cards, and optical cards. Other technologies can be put on cards as well (such as bar codes, touch memory, etc.). Often the card will have printing on it which may involve technologies such as Dye Diffusion Thermal Transfer (D2T2) direct to card printing.
With the advent of newer, more secure technologies some have predicted the demise of magnetic stripe. However, given the low cost and immense investment in the current infrastructure, magnetic stripe will not disappear any time soon. Today's hot areas are in the stored value arena. Phone, transit, amusement, vending machine, and welfare disbursement are rapidly growing magnetic stripe card applications.