Diverse Landscape for Integrated Chipsets used in Smart Cards

Published: 18 Jul 2009

By Peter Finalle, Research Analyst, Smart Card

The North and Latin American smart card market is a highly diverse landscape of regional trends, popular applications, and infrastructure penetration. Due to this diversity, there has been significant difficulty faced by vendors implementing advanced technology while adhering to the correct standards and certifications for specific combinations of region and application. This has given smart cards a slow start in these locations, and at the same time has made them a promising market for future growth as technologies and standards merge and become more universal in their appeal and functionality.

However, despite this diversity, the Americas smart card market is still highly susceptible to the same technology trends and drivers which influence the rest of the world, essentially creating a singular drive for more advanced memory and micro-controller integrated circuit technology.

Currently, the progression of physical technology behind smart cards is influenced by many factors present in both the smart card industry, and the semiconductor industry combined. In addition to traditional card technology drivers, the physical technology for smart cards generally trails the most cutting-edge segments of the semiconductor market, largely due to costs and form factor restraints. Due to this, the progression of technology for smart cards follows the advancements pioneered by the highly competitive CPU and memory markets in such aspects as fabrication process and core architecture (which are eventually adopted by smart cards). These same advancements create incentives for further smart card deployments and upgrades which ultimately support a vast number of cards deployed in the Americas today, as the lifecycle for a technology is directly tied to the rate at which advancements are achieved. Due to this, the progression of smart card integrated circuits directly effects the encryption, applications, and overall capabilities of the smart card, as well as the likelihood of adopting organizations to upgrade.

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