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The big question

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

Another key growth sector is the banking industry, with many global and regional banks introducing the Euro Mastercard Visa (EMV) secure payment standard to counter fraud and ensure safe transactions for customers.

Smart technologies have also been driven by the mobile phone, which is likely to become a major platform for the deployment of multiple applications on a single device. In the future, we believe the mobile device could fully support contactless payments, loyalty point systems.

There is also immense growth potential in what is known as the Internet of Things, an important strategic trend that will be promoting the development of the smart card industry. The trend points to a future of smart technologies machines communicate directly with each other without any human assistance or interaction. This will play a key role in helping service providers increase efficiency, cut costs, and reduce potential human error while deploying smart technologies.

How do Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand compare in the adoption of smart card technology? Which are the leading countries?   

At present, Singapore and Hong Kong are more smart card developed than Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, which already have smart technology infrastructure in place, but are still slightly slower in deploying it.

Applications and initiatives that have been deployed in the respective countries mentioned above include:


•    There are ongoing pilot projects to test the use of mobile phones for payment. The first vendor to provide the service is iNETS, which has worked with 15 merchants to provide mobile payment services to customers.

•    Other mobile payment platforms include NETS FlashPay and Ez-Link

•    Biometric passports and smart IDs have been available since 2006

•    The Ez-Link card, originally intended only for transport, is being developed to support multiple applications

•    Singapore's 10-year infocomms masterplanIntelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015), has further encouraged the development and use of smart technologies in the country.

Hong Kong:

•    SMARTICS, the countrys biometric ID card, may soon be able to support multiple applications, including payment and access to public buildings

•    The EMV payment standard has been introduced among banks for more secure payments and transactions

•    The Octopus card, originally intended only for transport, is also capable of supporting multiple applications, including loyalty points systems and payments for purchases from merchants that include Starbucks, Watsons, 7-11 and Mannings.


•    Celcom, a local mobile operator, has launched Celcom AirCash, a mobile money transfer service for its subscribers

•    ID cards called MyKad, which act as a passport, driving licence, health card and mobile wallet are being introduced

•    The EMV secure payment standard is also being introduced

•    Touch n Go is another smart card that has been introduced for drivers to make highway toll payments


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