Guest Column: RFID in China

The biggest RFID market this year


This year, for the first time, China has become the world's largest market for RFID by value. A new report "RFID in China 2007-2017" is the summation of extensive new research by IDTechEx analysts, including Chinese native Ning Xiao. Many companies in China were visited and interviewed to obtain this information. Here Ning Xiao summarizes some of the findings.

RFID Market Size in China

In 2007 the spend on radio frequency identification (RFID) in East Asia will be $2.7 billion of $4.96 billion spent globally. The majority of this — $1.9 billion — is just in China. This is because of a peak in delivery of contactless national identification cards in China prior to the 2008 Olympics. About $1.65 billion is being spent on 300 million of these cards plus their associated systems being delivered in 2007 out of a project commitment of $6 billion, the largest of any RFID project in the world.

Add to this $0.25 billion in other RFID tags and their systems, most of this related to transport, cash replacement and secure access cards, and the resulting $1.9 billion is 38 percent by value of the $4.96 billion global market for RFID cards and systems in 2007.

However, as the deliveries of the national ID card saturate, China will sink below the United States and probably Japan in value of its RFID market, but that market will nonetheless be growing very fast. Within 10 years it will more than compensate for the drop in delivery of national ID cards, buoyant sectors including animal tagging, transport, cash replacement cards, secure access, manufacturing, military and supply chain applications.

RFID suppliers in China

The leading 12 RFID companies account for $722 million of the Chinese RFID market size in 2007, 36.8 percent of the total $1960 million RFID market in China. IDTechEx finds that the top eight RFID operations in China were all contractors of the national ID card scheme. Huahong Group comprises two major subsidiaries: chip manufacturer Huahong NEC and chip designer Huahong IC. Both companies were appointed as supplier for national ID card project. Likewise, Datang Microelectronics received orders for both chip design and chip module encapsulation. SMIC is a top 10 semiconductor foundry in the world. Datang and Eastcom Peace were among the top eight smart card manufacturers in the world.

200 other local and foreign suppliers share the remaining $1238 million market value. These suppliers include foreign chip suppliers who had played a major part in RFID applications in China. For example, NXP supplied chips for the Beijing public transit cards and campus cards, and Inside Contactless won the Ministry of Communication order for the 7 million transportation certificate. Other chip suppliers active in Chinese market include Texas Instruments, STMicroelectronics, lnfineon, EM Microelectronics, Atmel, etc.

Meanwhile, leading local RFID companies are achieving significant growth. Invengo had implemented the $80M RFID project for Ministry of Railways. Other major players include Vision Electronics, Sample, and Hsic.

It also includes numerous local interrogator suppliers and system integrators for contactless smart card rollouts in their respective cities, such as national ID cards schemes and public transit cards. For example, Shanghai Public Transport Card Co (SPTCC) was founded in 1999 by local government, major transportation companies and technology suppliers located in the city. The sole purpose of this company is to implement and coordinate the public transport card project. State-owned companies of similar structure and function had been established in Beijing, Guangzhou, and most of the other 80 cities with transit card schemes ongoing. Annual sales revenues of these companies vary from several million dollars to tens of thousands.

In addition, Western companies are increasingly partnering with Chinese ones or outsourcing inlay production there.

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