After the merger between Oberthur and Morpho to form Idemia, and the acquisition of Gemalto by Thales, there is not many more options for combination among first-tier smart card vendors. We can suppose the industry leaders will remain a triopoly – Thales, Idemia and G+D - for the years to come.
However, restructuring is still going on among second-tier players: Assa Abloy has just acquired Placard, which calls itself the “largest manufacturer of secure cards in Australasia.” Placard is estimated to produce around 100 million cards annually. The company will be integrated into HID Global Identification Technologies business area.
With the acquisition of Placard, HID expects to enhance its presence in the Australasian region and reinforce HID value-add services and enhance the company smart card offer and capabilities for digital IDs.
Placard was founded in 1987, has some 170 employees and delivers banking cards, retail loyalty cards, monetary gift cards, cards for public transportation as well as driver’s licenses, health insurance cards and a variety of government IDs. The main office is located in Melbourne, Australia. According to Assa Abloy statement, Placard’s sales for 2019 are expected to reach AUD 63 million (EUR 38.7 million). Placard’s secure manufacturing and bureau facilities are accredited by Visa, MasterCard, China UnionPay and American Express.
While everyone agrees future battles in the secure transactions industry will revolve around digital identity, traditional smart cards still have a market, especially in the payment and identity segments.
Over the last couple of years, HID Global, a part of the Assa Abloy group, shows an acquisition strategy centered on the combination of digital ID and physical ID markets. Before Placard, HID recently acquired:
Hydrant ID, a US-based provider of management and automation services to secure enterprise organizations’ data, IT systems, networks, and Internet of Things (IoT).
De La Rue’s Citizen Identity Business, headquartered in the UK,
Crossmatch, a US-based expert in biometric identity management and secure authentication solutions,
Mercury Security, an OEM supplier of controllers for physical access control
Arjo Systems, a provider of physical and digital identity solutions for secure government ID applications.
The smart card industry is not static, it keeps on evolving and remains as fascinating as ever!