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Smart Card Industry

Friday 13 November 2009

The Smart Card was invented in 1974 by Roland Moreno. After years of sleep, the industry started to develop in the 1980's.

Nowadays, the smart card industry has sold billion cards, and represents at least EUR 5 to 10 billion sales in 2006.

Major applications of the smart card are:

  • Telecom, cards play the role of the Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) in a mobile handset
  • Banking, smart cards bring a much higher level of security than magnetic stripe cards
  • Identity, smart card technology brings a high level of security to ID documents such as Passports, ID cards, …
  • Phone cards, to pay for phone communications using public payphones
  • Healthcare, smart cards bring a secure way of authenticating patients and ensure they get the appropriate care

Major players in the industry are Gemalto (result of the merger between Axalto and Gemplus), Oberthur Card Systems, Giesecke & Devrient, Sagem-Orga. Numerous smaller companies, and some important new entrants are also present in the smart card industry. Few of them achieve a global coverage both in terms of geography and in terms of product range.

Suppliers of the industry are essentially the semi conductor manufacturers: Infineon, ST microelectronics, Atmel, Philips, etc…

The industry is getting more and more complex: semi conductor manufactures, operating system developers, micro module manufacturers, smart card embedders, application developers, certification bodies, test laboratories, …. All play a role in the value chain.

Building a smart card application needs most of the time a combination of skills coming from semi conductor developer, operating system developers, smart card manufacturers, application developers, readers or terminals suppliers, systems integrators.

The smart card industry evolves in the larger contest of the IT industry, with many interactions between IT and smart card industries.

More information about smart cards can be found at: