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How are we doing?

Week 44, 2008

In these crisis times, the fate of our industry can be considered under different angles. If we let ourselves being influenced by our global economic environment, we may consider the situation quite grim. Our major customers include banks, which are at the core of the crisis, and telecom operators who are instantly affected by the global economic slowdown.

However, the uncertainties created by the difficulties of our clients are limited. No mobile network operator will stop to issue SIM cards. No bank will stop to issue banking cards. No government will stop to issue ePassports. But new project developments are instantly impacted by issuers difficulties. In crisis times, banks, telcos, and governments will concentrate on running existent systems, and cut on innovation expenses, directly affecting new projects developments for the secure transactions industry. The R&D departments of major players in our industry are threatened, and smaller companies might be in danger.

We can already foresee changes happening in our industry. ID Data, a long-standing second-tier smart card manufacturer, and a major player on the UK payment market, has had to go under administration and is at risk. Safran ongoing reorganization may trigger the split of Sagem Orga activity at any time.At the same time innovation continues to thrive in our industry. Innovation comes at the same time from major groups and from smaller entities. For instance, more and more developers focus on USB keys as a preferred means of interaction with a computer, and at the same time as a means to provide a secure transaction support. A USB key has an easily recognizable form factor, so customer adoption is made easier, and it can be combined with a  variety of functionalities, with a SIM module, or a contactless interface. Also, we see display cards (smart cards incorporating a LCD) reaching maturity, with industrialized offers reaching the market. Of course, NFC is at the center of many innovations, as it brings together the most widely available personal electronic device on earth with the possibility to perform payment and other value added applications.

Since the secure transactions industry exists, it has been at the origin of behavioral changes for a large part of humanity (phonecards, mobile phones, banking cards, ePassports, …). It will continue to innovate and change the world.

Thierry Spanjaard
Chief Editor
Smart Insights