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The American Dream

Week 20, 2007

The telecommunication market has never been as dynamic, and the standard war between CDMA and GSM is about to find a conclusion with the evolution to 3G. Old proprietary networks are now dead, and the SIM card is making progresses in the mobile communication market in the Americas.

The US has been the starting point for the contactless expansion. The first application field is contactless payment. There are now more than 25 million contactless cards on the field in the USA, and they are accepted at 51,000 merchant locations. 25 million is still a small figure compared to the hundreds of millions of magstripe cards in American's wallets, but never has a payment technology seen such a quick adoption in the US. In the wake of contactless payments, NFC takes off quickly, especially with several pilots in sport arenas or transportation networks. NFC pilots are now gaining maturity: the point is no longer to verify that one can make a NFC transaction, but to investigate interoperability, usage in real environment conditions, and to test business models, etc…

Another major area of business for contactless technologies is identity. There have never been so many identity projects originating in North America. Under American influence, the world has switched or is in the process of switching to ePassports, which has led to the development of a whole new branch in our industry. Besides its own ePassports, the US government has launched a series of identity projects: Real ID (to issue reliable driving licenses), TWIC (for transportation workers), WHTI (for frequent cross border travelers), US Visit (to track foreign visitors to the USA), PIV (for all federal employees and contractors), …

With these perspectives, the American dream of the whole smart card industry is about to materialize: a smart card, or even better several smart cards, will shortly be in every American wallet.

Thierry Spanjaard
Chief Editor
Smart Insights