I am trying to build my own smart card decoder and I found that the smart card with the most popularity in terms of security and utility is the Mifare Desfire EV1 which is pretty much industrial grade. The second card I found was the Parallax IS23SC4442 which is more of a home project card. The Mifare card has an ISO/IEC 14443 A and the Parallax has ISO 7816. I was wondering on what were the differences in between the 2 standards.

I dont know if this is any clear nor if I am in the right place but thank you for your time.


2 Answers 2


The original answer is correct, but it lacks details.

ISO14443 is a contactless protocol (cards with an antenna embedded - now more commonly called NFC cards). It specifies only the lower-level of the communication protocol (what happens on the physical / link layer), but it does not specify the commands available at the upper level.

ISO7816 is a specification that was initially written for contact-only cards (cards with the pins exposed in the plastic). It is split in different parts:

  • Parts 1 to 3 are the description of the physical / link layer part of the protocol
  • Part 4 (and above) describe the standardized commands on the upper layer

So usually, contactless cards comply with ISO14443, and optionally with ISO7816 part 4. But when you talk about ISO7816 compliant cards without saying more, you usually refer to contact-only cards (you can also find cards that have dual interface).

So, to sum up, the huge difference between Mifare and Parallax IS23SC4442 is that the former is a contactless cards (that don't even have a contact interface) and the latter is contact-only. Then, choosing between one or the other is easy: it depends on your application. Do you need contactless or contact cards ?


ISO/IEC 14443 is the international standard for contactless smart chips and cards that operate (i.e., can be read from or written to) at a distance of less than 10 centimeters (4 inches). This standard operates at 13.56 MHz and includes specifications for the physical characteristics, radio frequency power and signal interface, initialization and anticollision protocols and transmission protocol.

ISO/IEC 7816 is the international standard for contact smart cards. ISO/IEC 7816 Parts 4 and above are used by both contact and contactless smart card applications for security operations and commands for interchange.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This seems to be a straight copy of the following page: smartcardalliance.org/smart-cards-faq/#iso - you should add a reference although given how easy it is to find maybe just delete the Q/A it doesn't really seem that useful. \$\endgroup\$
    – PeterJ
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 12:43

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