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Change in the US beneficial for us

Week 46, 2008

During a recent Smart Card Alliance conference, it has already been stated that the new Administration is expected to be favorable to the continuation of major US identity solution programs. Analysts expects good support for Homeland security programs like US Visit, TWIC and electronic passport from the new Administration (cf. Smart Insights #08-44).

Barack Obama election has already had a short-lived impact on telecoms, with a  sudden increase of SMS traffic on election day: Sprint saw a 21% higher volume in text messaging nationwide than it had the previous four Tuesdays. Of course, over time, the change in government will have little impact on telecoms business: whether the president is a Republican or a Democrat, people will phone just as usual.

We can also expect payment business to continue to develop quickly in the United States, just as it has been the case over the last few years, with many NFC pilots and contactless payment deployments.

The market segment where the new administration may make the most impact is healthcare cards, as a global healthcare program is part of Barack Obama electoral program. Also RAND Corporation, a long standing advisor to US Governments, just released a report recommending the adoption of a Unique Patient Identifier (UPI). Already in 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandated the development of a UPI, to enable physicians, hospitals, and other authorized users to share clinical and administrative records more efficiently. But, development of a UPI, a key to linking records across the emerging network, has been sidetracked by privacy concerns.

Of course, being in the smart security industry, we all think a convenient media to carry a UPI, as well as performing other tasks relating to a nationwide healthcare program could be a smart card. This remains to be decided by the new administration. And, given experiences in other parts of the world, healthcare smart card projects generally need more than a US President term to be completed.

Thierry Spanjaard
Chief Editor
Smart Insights