The market for ID cards has evolved during the past several years, changing from traditional accessories with only a picture on them to smart cards embedded with a microelectronic chip used to store sensitive information on the cardholder. The smart card is currently the most sophisticated technology used for making purchases and authentication purposes in advanced access control systems, according to a report by Electronics.ca Publications.
The study revealed that more than 6 billion smart cards were shipped in 2011. This number is forecast to increase in the coming years as more possibilities for smart card applications are discovered and leveraged across industries. Electronics.ca Publications forecast smart card shipments to expand at a compound annual growth rate of more than 10 percent between 2012 and 2017, with sales eventually rising from 6.8 billion units in 2012 to more than 11 billion in 2017.
The report also noted that today's smart card industry can be segmented into three categories: contact, dual interface and contactless ID cards.
What's happening in the smart card industry
The conventional contact card is the most commonly used device across all verticals and is forecast to remain the dominant player in the coming years until the other segments mature and are adopted on a grander scale. Electronics.ca Publications noted that roughly 4.5 billion contact cards will be shipped by the end of 2012 and eventually increase to nearly 6.6 billion in 2017, at which point they will account for nearly 68 percent of the smart card market.
Dual interface ID cards represent a smaller section, as only 1.5 billion units will be shipped by 2017, accounting for only 13 percent of the market. Contactless cards, on the other hand, are growing at a rapid rate with more than 3 billion units expected to be shipped in 2017, up from only 1.4 billion in 2012. In five years, contactless cards will make up more than 18 percent of the smart card market.
Contactless smart cards are particularly useful for access control systems, as the devices can increase convenience and data security by keeping large volumes of sensitive information safe on the embedded chip. Access control readers in government, transportation and other industries can benefit from contactless technologies because of their advanced protective capabilities.