Understanding the Difference Between MIFARE and Proximity Cards


MIFARE and proximity cards are both fantastic for increasing the efficiency and safety of pretty much any environment! When it comes to choosing an identity, access or, well, any other type of smart card really, you’re faced with quite a bit of choice. Terms are tossed around here and there and after a while, it becomes very easy to get muddled. The key to picking the right type of card is understanding the unique functions and specifications of what you’re interested in. MIFARE and proximity cards are often confused, so let’s get started on understanding what makes them different…

Proximity cards are…

Proximity cards are contactless cards. Contactless means that they don’t have to make physical contact with a reader system, for example, they don’t have to be inserted or scanned in order to allow access. Proximity cards have a microchip embedded into them, this chip stores a unique code which the reader is able to identify and thus allow access or other functions. This is made possible by radio frequencies, or RFID for short. A passive card is sparked to life by the reader’s field for a few moments, making it possible for the card and the reader to communicate with each other. Proximity cards are usually used for access control or car park entry.

MIFARE cards are…

MIFARE gets its name from the company that makes it, Mikron FARE Collection System. MIFARE technology is a miniature chip which can be stored in a tonne of different objects. You’ll find this chip in cards, pet collars, key fobs, wristbands, smartphones – just about everywhere! The MIFARE chip is widely used because of its sophisticated memory storing capabilities. The embedded memory is able to store data securely for long stints of time. This data is kept secure by an encryption key, preventing any omitted information until a reader sparks the card. Just like proximity cards, MIFARE cards also use radio frequencies in order to communicate with a reader system.

The difference between MIFARE and proximity cards include…

Frequency: MIFARE and proximity cards both use radio frequencies. MIFARE uses 13.56 Mhz whilst proximity cards use 125KHz.

Memory storage: MIFARE has the great benefit of a memory for data storage. Proximity cards are not able to store any data on them, so this is a rather big difference between the two.

Size: MIFARE’s microchip is much smaller than that of a proximity card, meaning it can be inserted into more objects, giving it more functions.

Codes: MIFARE cards come to you with a pre-programmed encrypted serial number unique to each and every card. Proximity cards use a facility code instead.

Programming potential: MIFARE cards have more potential for programming, and therefore uses, then proximity cards. This is largely due to the ability to store memory. MIFARE cards can be used as cash or transactional cards, travel cards and membership cards to name a few extra functions.

Now that you know the precise definitions and differences between MIFARE and proximity cards, you can make an informed decision for which you opt for. Be sure to factor in their different uses and potential to ensure you choose correctly. Also, keep in mind that your reader must be compatible with whichever technology you choose, so be diligent and check before you make any investments.


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