PC/SC Workgroup Goals and Objectives

The PC/SC Workgroup was formed to address limitations in existing standards, from a personal computer/smart card application perspective.

Specifically, existing standards complicate the integration of smart card devices, and do not adequately address interoperability between products from multiple vendors.

Workgroup members identified the following goals :

  • Standardize interfaces to Interface Devices (IFDs).
  • Specify common PC programming interfaces and control mechanisms.

Workgroup efforts are guided by the following considerations:

  • Work with the industry: Ensure that new solutions are able to encompass existing products and applications as much as possible. Encourage and participate in the development of solutions which meet the needs of the industry at large.
  • Provide results: Make the results of Workgroup efforts available on a royalty-free basis


To meet its goals, the Workgroup identified a specific set of objectives:

  • Provide ICC (smart card) and IFD compatibility requirements.
  • Document standard interfaces for IFDs (Interface Devices).
  • Document high level interfaces which abstract services supported by an ICC and associated device sharing and control mechanisms.
  • Recommend general purpose ICC-based cryptographic and storage devices, designed to support existing PC and Internet standards.

To ensure broad applicability, the technologies are addressed in an application and vendor neutral manner.

The above core objectives have been met and documented in the PC/SC Specifications 1.0, which were released in December 1997. The Specifications define the architecture and key interfaces for a comprehensive and flexible solution for integrating smart cards with the PC, and can be down-loaded from the website.

The PC/SC Workgroup released the PC/SC Specifications Version 2 in June 2005. Since then, the specifications have been continously enhanced. The most recent version is available here.

For the benefit of the industry, Workgroup members hope that the Specifications can form the basis for future open standards activity.

The Workgroup’s work continues, as the Specifications are broadened in an ongoing Work Process.