Smart cards buck economic trend - Embedded.com

Smart cards buck economic trend

LONDON — The smart card industry is demonstrating resilience to the economic downturn and continued to grow in volumes shipped.

Eurosmart, a international non-profit association located in Brussels and representing the smart security industry for multi-sector applications, is predicting that the number of high-end microprocessor cards sold in 2010 will grow by nearly 10 percent.

The organization reports that the focus on security remained a top priority with 4.4 billion units of smart secure devices being shipped in 2009, a 5.1 percent growth compared with 2008. It anticipates that number will grow again by 9.9 percent in 2010 to exceed 4.8 billion units.

Reviewing the telecom sector, Eurosmart says that in addition to its successes as a service platform for 2G and 3G networks, the UICC (SIM cards) is now part of the LTE (4G) plans with early deployments. The multiplication of connected devices (cell phones, netbook PCs, GPS) and the emergence of NFC (contactless) will continue to fuel the growth of the telecom segment in both volumes and value.

The anticipated migration to 3G for key markets like China will bring a very positive impact tothe smart card industry while the machine-to-machine (M2M) communications market experienced its early wins in 2009 in areas like automotive diagnostics.In the financial services and retail sectors contactless payment cards continued to be adopted worldwide, bringing banks, retailers and transport operators to develop innovative co-branded programs.

The migration programs to use EMV (Europay, MasterCard and VISA) interface specification have been multiplied in 2009, in anticipation to the EMV adoption mandates in the medium term.

Government identity and travel documents continue to go digital worldwide, opening newopportunities to develop services for citizens leveraging on these infrastructures.

Memory cards now represent a small portion of the industry says Eurosmart and do not have a significant impact both on volumes and revenues. It demonstrates that, in addition to materialize security, smart secure devices are personalized 'computers' ideally suitable to enable a secure and trustworthy ICT experience for billions of citizens around the World. Eurosmart anticipates that the industry will grow thanks to those e-services that will need to connect citizens and their service providers with security, convenience, privacy and trust.

Table 1: worldwide volumes shipments in millions units (Mu) for both 2009 and 2010 by market segments. To see a bigger version of this graphic click here.

Table2: Secure Contactless market figures – 2009 and 2010 forecasts (excluding access control and ticketing). To see a bigger version of this graphic click here.

The table above represents mainly cards and keyfobs used for payment, government ID and transport applications. Moving forward, Eurosmart believes a significant portion of Mobile NFC Services will be accounted inside the SIM card figures. The SIM card is now a standardized secure element for service provisioning and for applications hosting in the mobile phone. Multiple pilots trials of mobile payment and mobile mass transit services will materialize in mass deployments over the next few years.

Eurosmart members are companies (Atmel, Austriacard, FNMT-RCM, Gemalto, Giesecke & Devrient, Infineon Technologies, Ingenico, Inside Contactless, NedCard, NXP Semiconductors, Oberthur Technologies, Precise Biometrics, Renesas, Sagem Orga, Samsung, STMicroelectronics, Toshiba, Zetes), payment systems (GIE Cartes Bancaires, MasterCard), laboratories (FIME), associations (Smart Payment Association) and independent experts (Jean-Pierre Delesse).

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