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The big question

Ross O. Storey | Feb. 10, 2010
What is the future of smart cards in Asia?

In the not too distant future, the current smart cards format may be replaced by anything from a mobile phone to a pen, USB drive or watch, as smart technologies continue to evolve towards becoming contactless. MIS Asia editor Ross O. Storey, shared thoughts about smart card technology with Michael Weatherseed, exhibition director, Cartes, in Asia.

Why do you think the Asia Pacific today is the fastest growing region for the smart card industry? What makes this region different from the US and Europe?    

Today, the Asia Pacific region represents 40 per cent of the global smart card industry, and is experiencing about 30 per cent annual growth in smart card use, due to the rapid adoption of a variety of smart applications across the region.

The bulk of growth in volume is mainly from telecoms and banking, with the Euro Mastercard Visa (EMV) secure payment standard being a prime mover in the banking sector. Other areas of growth include deployments in the health sector, and governments in the region introducing smart IDs and biometric passports. There has also been growth in the introduction of smart cards with the capability to support multiple applications.

Although EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) has taken the lead with the invention, deployment and integration of smart technologies, the Asia Pacific is starting to catch up, while the US has a lower rate of adoption.

How would you describe the current state of the smart card industry in Asia and how competitive is it?   

Asia is an emerging market with a huge capacity for development, making it an interesting market for vendors and application developers in the industry. However, this also makes Asia a very competitive market, with international vendors as well as local developers all competing for revenue opportunities.

How do you see the future of the smart card industry in Asia, and what do you see as its true potential?   

The smart card industry in Asia is set to shine, with growth and innovation presenting tremendous growth prospects for the adoption of smart technologies across all industries. This trend has also been driven by government initiatives, including Singapore's 10-year infocomms masterplanIntelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015).

We have recently seen increasing adoption of smart technologies in the health industry across Asia, with key developments in China. However, development has been relatively slow due to issues around confidentiality and the sharing of information.

Asias governments have deployed large-scale biometric identification for citizens to reduce fraud. Some are increasingly adopting smart technologies for transportation, enhancing convenience for users of public transport, especially when it comes to payments.


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