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Smart Card at the forefront of e-readiness

Week 19, 2007

The Economist's definition of e-readiness is that each country possesses an interconnected set of infrastructural, political, commercial, legal and social attributes that, when combined effectively, help the economy to grow and government and society to improve. Among major criteria taken into account by The Economist are the penetration of mobile phones, the utilization of digital channels by individuals and businesses. and electronic ID projects.

The ranking produced by the Economist is:
1. Denmark
2. USA
3. Sweden
4. Hong Kong
5. Switzerland
6. Singapore
7. UK
8. Netherlands
9. Australia
10. Finland
Between 11 and 20: Norway, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, …

One may notice this list is very close to a list we could build of the countries where smart card projects are the most prevalent, or with the longest history of smart card developments.

The penetration of mobile phones (most often SIM based), banking cards (more and more based on EMV or contactless), eIDs and ePassports, along with eGovernment projects has helped many populations to get used to smart card technology and to information and communications technologies in general. The smart card can be seen as a pervasive, user-friendly means to get high-end technology into everyone's wallet and pocket. Mobile phones have more users than the internet, and banking cards and eIDs are the means to reach a whole population with a technology that brings new services, and easier relations for people with financial institutions and governments.

Mobile phones and SMS are the most common tool of social networking on Earth, far ahead of the PC industry. The availability of cheap mobile phones and services boost connectivity. Mobile phones play a crucial role in economic development, even in developing countries: for instance, the Asian Development Bank is investing heavily in Afghanistan’s mobile networks, the Philippines continues to have a long and innovative relationship with mobile commerce, …

The use of electronic ID cards could create powerful efficiencies: citizens can gain access to electronic services and information from government agencies. Public health administration could benefit through instant, secure provision of a patient’s records. There are also enormous potential e-commerce advantages to having secure cards in people’s wallets.

When the world balance is changing, the smart card industry remains at the forefront of the change with its soft and easily acceptable way to make people like technology.

Thierry Spanjaard
Chief Editor
Smart Insights