Every smart card has an operating system. It is the hardware-specific firmware that provides basic functionality as secure access to on-card storage, authentication and encryption. Only a few cards allow writing programs that are loaded onto the smart card - just like programs on a computer. This is a great way to extend the basic functionality of the smart card OS.
However, in most cases the issuer has to commit to a specific application developer, operating system and chip for each service the issuer wished to provide to its customer base. This leaves almost no flexibility to change any of these components without having to invest funds into a new software and/or hardware implementation. As a result early smart cards were costly and inflexible. But today we can clearly see a develpment towards open operating systems that support multiple applications.
For on-card application development of programs that run inside the secure environment of the smart card chip, we highly recommend operationg systems that have bigger market exposure such as JavaCard OS, MultOS.
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