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Survey: rosy future for smartcards

Sales to grow from $1.4 billion to $6.8 billion over next four years, says Dataquest

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Chip-card market growth will be strongest in the US and Japan, but Europe will continue as the leading region, according to a four-year forecast by Dataquest. Asia/Pacific will become the number two region for chip card revenue by 2002, with 30 per cent of sales. Analysts predict US revenue to grow from about $20 million in 1997 to $532 million in 2002, with Japan seeing an increase from $14 million to $390 million. Despite this growth, Europe is expected to hang on to the chief share of the market. But its worldwide chip card revenue will decline to 48 per cent by 2002, from last year's 77 per cent. The report said the worldwide chip card market reached $1.4 billion in 1997 on the back of strong European sales. It predicted this to increase to $6.8 billion over the next four years. Jonathan Cassel, the Dataquest analyst responsible for the study, said this explosive growth would be driven by the worldwide proliferation of chip-card technology. Semiconductor vendors should watch out for opportunities with microcontroller chips used in various types of smart cards. The chip card is the highest-volume electronics end product. Dataquest estimated that 962 million cards were sold last year, about 11 times the number of PCs produced. Chip cards can be used as money, debit and credit cards, or identification. ®

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