Smartcards need compatible standards

New analysis from research company Frost & Sullivan has called for greater standards compatibility if contactless smartcards are...

New analysis from research company Frost & Sullivan has called for greater standards compatibility if contactless smartcards are to gain international acceptance.

More than 121.7 million smartcards were shipped in 2004, and the number is expected to reach almost 850 million by 2009. But the research shows that a profusion of standards is creating a major bottleneck to market growth.

Even ISO 14443, the most prominent standard currently available, has both Type A and B varieties and so offers very little cohesion in operation.

"International standards have to be worked out to enable terminals to accept payment through contactless mode, irrespective of its issuers," said Frost & Sullivan analysts Vihar Bhagwat and Karthik Nagarajan. “Higher shipments for application segments such as e-passports will be possible only if an international standard is agreed up on."

The report adds that the market also has to focus on ridding users of apprehensions about new applications – in particular, their tendency to persist with current systems even if they are faulty or inadequate.

In spite of the hurdles, several European countries are preparing existing transport systems for upgrades. The proposed International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) e-passport guidelines for western and central Europe may also give the contactless smartcard market a boost.

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