Smart cards are chip-cards that integrate an embedded chip to store information in digital form. The embedded chip can be a memory chip or microcontroller/microprocessor. The smart cards based on memory chips are the least secure form of smart cards. Smart cards based on microcontrollers are used to store credential information, which is processed within the card’s chip. The additional functionalities offered by smart cards, such as security, convenience, speed, and ease of use, are driving its adoption worldwide. Smart cards are classified based on type into contact-based smart cards, contactless smart cards, hybrid smart cards, and dual-interface smart cards. Contact-based smart cards are powered by the reader and are generally used in low-end SIM cards in the telecommunication industry.

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Contactless smart cards are self-powered devices and offer enhanced security over contact smart cards. Dual-interface smart cards are a combination of contact and contactless smart cards. With high expected reliability, dual-interface smart cards have witnessed wide adoption in banking and government applications such as credit/debit and government IDs. Hybrid cards comprise more than one chip (smart) cards inside it having no interface with each other and are multifunction cards used for several applications. Increasing security threats and growth in fraudulent activities is the major factor propelling the adoption of smart cards globally. Industries that were traditionally served by various machine readable card technologies, such as magnetic stripe and barcodes, have commenced adoption of smart cards for better security and reliability.

The decreasing cost of SIM cards and a decline in tariff rates in the telecommunication industry is one of the key factors fueling the growth of the smart cards market. Due to increased penetration of mobile phones, the market for smart cards is expected to witness steady growth in the coming years. Growth traction in online payments has enhanced vulnerability to security risks for the banking and finance industry. The rising application of electronic national identity (e-ID) in various countries is also contributing to the growth of the market. This has surged the demand for secured and reliable payment transactions across the retail and BFSI industry, which in turn is driving innovations in smart card technology. Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) chip technologies are becoming the global standards for debit card and credit card payments.

EMV cards combat fraudulent activity and guard insightful payment data stored in the cards. Contactless smart cards and dual-interface smart cards help to enhance security, reduce fraudulent activity, and allow future bundling of value-added applications to the end-user industries including banking, telecommunication, and government. However, high initial cost to migrate to smartcard compatible readers is affecting the adoption of smartcards in many countries. Contactless smart cards accounted for 18.6% of the total market revenue in 2014.

In 2014, Asia Pacific held the largest market share, in terms of revenue, and accounted for 47.4% share of the total smart cards market’s revenue. The growth of this market was mainly attributed to the increased adoption of cellular SIM in the telecommunication industry. Proliferation in the adoption of EMV cards in the banking and financial industry and growth in the adoption of e-IDs for government and transportation applications is also sustaining the smart cards market’s growth in Asia Pacific. The Latin America and the Middle East & Africa markets are anticipated to witness promising growth over the forecast period. The growth rates in these geographies are attributed to the presence of several government initiatives to issue personal identification cards and growth traction in the adoption of SIM in the telecommunication industry.

The global smart cards market is highly concentrated with players such as Gemalto NV, Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) GmbH, and Oberthur Technologies dominating the market. Other companies in the ecosystem of this market include Ingenico Corp. (Delaware), American Express Co., Atos SE (Societas Europaea), NXP Semiconductors, Infineon Technologies AG, INSIDE Secure, and Texas Instruments, Inc.

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