Analysis: Integrated Smart Card, Biometric Technology Market Expected To Soar

Although integrated smart cards and biometrics technology is only at an early growth phase, the stage is being set for its exceptional growth. Industry participants in every part of the value chain are implementing smart cards integrated with biometrics on an open platform to ensure interoperability and ease of addition of future applications. Such long-term planning will ensure the survival of any integrated solution’s implementation.

As such, there is immense opportunity for smart cards in the untapped markets in Asia. The widespread acceptance of new technology in the early stages is quite encouraging for smart card participants. System integrators have realized the need for proper planning and coordination in order to increase market revenue.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan APAC Integrated Smart Cards and Biometrics Markets, finds that the market earned $249.1 million in 2007 and is expected to reach $822.2 million by 2013.

The market has already bagged numerous and significant projects such as the national ID and e-passport programs. National ID projects are the most active revenue generators for the market, since all governments in the Asia Pacific are looking at implementing biometrics along with smart cards.

A few national ID projects such as those of India’s and Malaysia’s have already started using biometric verification, while Japan’s and China’s are still at the planning stages. With many more countries looking at implementing national ID projects, and biometrics being one of the pre requisites for these projects, the market has good reasons to feel optimistic.

“The number of national ID projects that are in the pipeline in the Asia Pacific shows the huge potential for smart cards integrated with biometrics,” said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Navin Rajendra. “Furthermore, with the implementation of the e-passport program coming to an end by 2008, new issuance of passports by the countries under the U.S. VISA Waiver program will add significantly to the unit shipment growth.”

The market growth rate in 2006 was 55.2 percent, despite many of the national ID projects not operating at full scale. Considering even corporate security, banking, and e-passport programs have not reached their full potential, the unit shipment growth is expected to rocket in spite of fluctuations in the growth rate.

Apart from enhancing security, the integration of biometrics with smart cards eliminates the need for multiple identification requirements. This means that no time is lost in retrieving passwords or keys.

Integrated systems also offer cost-conscious organizations with an opportunity to provide high levels of security at affordable prices. However, smart cards integrated with biometrics still faces competition from low-cost, conventional access control systems.

“In a market where pricing is crucial, it is important for industry participants to implement projects that have provisions for addition of future applications,” Rajendra said. “Such implementations will also ensure that the integrated cards will not be obsolete in the future.”

Moreover, integrated smart cards and biometrics offers a level of security that cannot be achieved by smart cards and biometrics as stand-alone technologies. Several end users (most notably, governments) are well aware of the potential of this integrated technology in various areas ranging from the rural sector to the most highly secure environments of government institutions. Such extensive adoption of the technology is expected to hold the market in good stead.

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