Smart Cards, the New in Currency

Smart cards will soon replace most of the cash and other paper certificates in the pockets of Chinese people, predicted the China Information Industry Chamber of Commerce in the Fourth International Smart Card Fair.

At the on-going exhibition, which started on Wednesday and run through Saturday, more than 10 government ministries said they would adopt smart cards in their daily operations.

Smart cards, the popular name for integrated circuit cards (IC cards), have been flourishing in recent years. They have become the most important thing in people’s wallets in the form of credit cards, telephone cards, power cards, ID cards, insurance cards and even door keys.

Last year, more than 230 million smart cards were issued in China, most of them in the form of telephone cards, according to Chen Chong, deputy director of the Department of Electronics and IT Products under the Ministry of Information Industry.

Of these cards, 120 million were public telephone IC cards and another 42 million were mobile phone SIM cards.

More than 10 government ministries and financial organizations, involving trade, transportation, power, medicine, insurance, tourism, census registration, taxation, banking and utilities fee collection, have started to adopt IC cards in their operation.

The market demand exceeded 300 million by the end of last year and will jump again this year, according to Chen.

Although domestic products control 70 percent of the domestic market, international IC vendors are still upbeat about the potential of this promising land.

Most of the leading IC makers, including Gemplus, ST Microelectronics, Philips and Motorola, have set up production bases on the Chinese mainland and hope to get a piece of the high-end IC market.

The Chinese government started a project called “Golden Card” in 1993, in which the government encourages people to use cards instead of cash and paper certificates.

(China Daily 06/08/2001))

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