A smartcard reader, also known as a smartcard terminal (CKT) or interface device (IFD), is the physical interface between the personal computer (PC) and the smartcard.
There are smartcard terminals where the smartcard is pulled in electrically and others where the smartcard has to be inserted manually. A switch recognizes that a card has been inserted and supplies the smartcard with the appropriate supply voltage via the gold-plated contacts. In addition, the clock signal for the processor and the read-in and read-out data are transmitted via the contact field.USB interface, via the PCMCIA slot or via another serial interface. When the smartcard is pulled out, the switch triggers the shutdown sequence so that no live contact can damage the smartcard.
In addition to readers for contact smart cards, there are also readers for contactless smart cards.