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Business | May 16, 2012

'Big Four' smart card vendors feel pressure

Asian vendors Watchdata, Eastcompeace, KEB Technology, Datang, and Wuhan Tianyu continue to apply pressure on the 'Big Four' smart card vendors.
​The market for smart cards and secure ICs achieved double digit YoY growth for shipments in 2011, demonstrating increases of 16% and 15%, respectively. Volumes continued ramping up, driven by further mobile penetration, the ongoing development in the SIM card sector, and the number of countries migrating to EMV. The top three applications (government ID, payment cards, and SIM) accounted for 88% of the total seven billion smart cards shipped in 2011.

Further adoption in contactless cards added increased value to the market, as will the greater demand for multi-application cards. However, manufacturers remain aware of ongoing price pressures, apparent across all vertical sectors in the smart card market. For smart card manufacturers this activity is focused around software and services such as online identity and trusted service management; for IC vendors, activity focuses around new applications such as anti-counterfeiting and brand protection, device authentication, and the use of smart card IP in new devices.

Research analyst Phil Sealy says, “The pure contactless US payment card market was one area that declined in 2011. US banks held back on investment into pure contactless technology, while awaiting the impending migration to EMV. Asia as a region had heightened activity in the payment cards market. China’s migration to its PBOC 2.0 standard is underway and is boosting a market that shipped in excess of 1.1 billion units in 2011.”

Group research director John Devlin says, “Large scale deployments in Asia have provided Asian vendors the ability to build economies of scale, leverage technology, and expand into other regions, increasing their presence. Combined, their 2011 market share increased to 19%, up from 16.3%, applying further pressure on the big four smart card vendors: Gemalto, Morpho, Oberthur, and Giesecke & Devrient.”
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