Guest Column: RFID in 2006 – A Story of Extremes

A look back at the ups and down for the radio frequency identification market


RFID Cards: Biggest Market by Value and Growing

When it comes to the biggest RFID market — contactless smart cards — Don Davis, Editor of Card Technology says, "Big players are making major bets on contactless and forcing competitors to catch up. They are issuing large numbers of contactless cards and fobs and, in Japan, adding contactless functionality to millions of mobile phones, giving many consumers the chance to pay with a wave."

Contactless cards are a huge success, and contactless ticket sales are also taking off exponentially. The China National ID card and system is the biggest RFID rollout but an even larger budget of at least $15 billion is planned for the UK National ID card. Then there is continued growth in secure access applications and the start of the process of converting over three billion financial cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express and JCB to RFID. In the United States alone, 150,000 readers have just been installed for these financial cards; but that is only the beginning. RFID cards and tickets and RFID-enabled mobile phones (Near Field Communication) increasingly provide payments, ticketing and secure access. All three devices are seeing rapid growth.

The China National ID scheme will peak at a huge 300 million USD$2.45 cards delivered in 2007. Card readers valued at $1.2 billion are being ordered to go with them. The global market for RFID cards and systems will pass $3 billion in 2008. The figures, which are fully analyzed together with tickets and RFID phones, are in the new IDTechEx report, "Contactless Smart Cards and Near Field Communication 2007-2017."

IDTechEx forecasts that sales of RFID tickets will rocket from 100 million in 2007 to 450 million in 2010. Others are even more bullish in their forecasts. Certainly, the national railway system in China uses three billion tickets yearly, so its recent order for hundreds of millions of RFID tickets is only a beginning.

About the Author: Raghu Das MA (Cantab) is CEO/MD of IDTechEx. He has a BA Natural Sciences degree from Cambridge University, where he studied physics. He has been closely involved with the development of RFID and printed electronics for over six years, carrying out consultancy in Europe, the United States, Asia and the Middle East. He has lectured on RFID, smart packaging and printed/organic electronics at over 200 events and conferences around the world and is author of several IDTechEx publications.

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