The use of smartcards is widespread globally in different industries and the day-to-day lives of consumers. In recent years, issuance of debit and credit cards by banking and financial organizations has increased significantly, resulting in a huge installed base of smartcards. Identification or ID cards—both government IDs and IDs issued by private companies to their employees—are growing in number every year. There has also been a shift in consumer behavior toward the acceptance of smartcards. Consumers globally are increasingly preferring cashless transactions and using debit/credit cards for making payments. Technological advances have played a major role in making smartcards popular. Smartcards are utilized across various application areas including banking, retail, healthcare, hospitality, travel and tourism, and others. Europe has been a frontrunner in the use of smartcards. Governments and industries in the Americas and Asia-Pacific are also promoting digitalization and the usage of smartcards.
A growing demand for cards in every sphere of life and business and growth of the cards market act as major drivers for the card printers market. This has created immense growth opportunities for card printer manufacturers in the past and these will continue to exist in the short, medium, and long-term future. Although there has been a surge in the adoption of biometric technologies for identification and access control, the use of cards is expected to continue in the coming years, resulting in the growth of the card printers market.
The modern card printers are technologically advanced devices that facilitate high-quality printing of cards and enhance the user experience. Printing processes such as direct to card and retransfer, ultraviolet security panel for protection against fraud and counterfeit, card encoding, and rewritable printing technology are some of the features that make cards extremely secure as well as convenient to use. The card printers also support various wireless technologies and operating systems that make them compatible with all types of devices.
One of the challenges for card printing manufacturers stems from the usage of environmentally friendly printing and card materials. With the widespread use of cards worldwide, it has become crucial for card printer manufacturers to develop and adopt technologies that are eco-friendly and reduce environmental pollution.
Although the latest smartcards come with extra layers of protection in the form of Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) chips, password, and ultraviolet (UV) coatings, there are risks of fraudulent activities and identity thefts. The cards can be stolen of misplaced and can be used by unauthorized personnel for fraudulent activities. This has created an opportunity for biometric technology and solution providers for identity verification, access control, and financial transactions. Biometrics is a potential replacement for IDs, credit/debit cards, and passwords. While smartcards make it convenient for consumers to shift to a cashless system, biometric technologies make it even more convenient by eliminating the need for cards as biometric data enables identification and allows users to securely perform all types of transactions.
However, globally, people are not yet ready to use biometric data as the only means of access due to the risk of data theft. They feel more secure using smartcards with EMV chips and passwords, with biometric data adding an extra layer of protection. Countries in many parts of the world have still not openly adopted biometric technologies. India’s UIDAI Aadhaar—the biggest biometric national ID system in the world—is promoting biometric technology and linking biometric data to various other systems such as banks, driving licenses, social schemes, and telephone records to prevent fraudulent activities and unauthorized access.
Notwithstanding the use of biometric solutions, consumers worldwide are expected to continue using their credit and debit cards for financial transactions, ID cards for access control, and so on. Therefore, the outlook for smartcards (and card printer manufacturers) remains bright in the short, medium, and long-term future.