El Segundo, Calif. – Shipments of smart electronic passports (ePassports) will experience relatively weak growth over the next several years, despite their capability to address security concerns at airports and border crossings, according to IHS Technology. Global shipments of ePassports is expected to reach 175 million units in 2019, up from 113 million in 2013, which is a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.6 percent during the six-year period.
ePassports contain a microcontroller chip that contains biometric information, such as facial, fingerprint and iris recognition data, used to authenticate travelers’ identities. “While expansion may appear to be strong, it actually amounts to the slowest growth for any segment of the worldwide government electronic identification (ID) market,” said IHS. Shipments of ePassports will rise at only half the rate of the fastest-growing form of electronic government identification, which is national IDs. Shipments of electronic identification for use as drivers’ licenses, healthcare cards and national ID credentials are forecast to grow at double-digit CAGRs from 2013 through 2019.
“Programs utilizing ePassports face a host of challenges, including government legislation, country risk, political opposition and economic concerns,” said Wincey Tang, digital ID & IT security analyst at IHS, in a statement. “This multitude of obstacles is slowing the growth of ePassports compared to other electronic ID systems. The major question is whether the need for improved border security will ever be strong enough to overcome the challenges created by these barriers.”
The report “E-Government & Healthcare ID Cards - 2014” from the Digital ID & IT Security Service at IHS also finds that some countries such as Australia have more readily adopted ePassport technology than other countries. Australia is expected to have the majority of passports with an embedded MCU by the end of 2015. Other mature markets include Austria, Denmark, Italy, Malaysia, the Philippines and Hong Kong. However, some countries impacted by governmental challenges such as India, Germany, Ukraine and Indonesia have experienced disruptions in deployment of enhanced IDs, according to the report.
The leaders in ePassport adoption is the Asia-Pacific region, accounting for the highest number of ePassport shipments in 2013, at 40 percent of the global market, followed by Europe with 32 percent. “It is also important to note that shipments mainly represent the issuance of new credentials—either brand-new or a replacement. Therefore, the top five listed countries with the highest number of shipment volumes in 2013 are areas where the ePassport market is growing fastest; or they represent areas where the program is either relatively new or has experienced additional initiatives,” said IHS.
“This means that countries with mature schemes are often ranked higher in terms of the installed base, which counts the number of credentials in use, and will not appear in the top list for the latest shipments," added IHS.