Electronic passports have their value but political opposition and government red tape is making the credentials one of the slowest growth areas for high-assurance credentials, according to IHS Technology.
The consultancy predicts that ePassports are set to experience relatively weak growth in the coming years, despite their capability to address rising security concerns at airports and border crossings.
Global shipments of ePassports will rise to 175 million units in 2019, up from 113 million in 2013. This represents a compound annual growth rate of 7.6% percent during the six-year period.
This is slowest growth for any segment of the worldwide government electronic identification market. In comparison, shipments of electronic identification for use as driver licenses, health care cards and national ID credentials all are expected to enjoy double-digit compound annual growth from 2013 through 2019. Shipments of ePassports will rise at only half the rate of the fastest-growing form of electronic government identification: national IDs.
“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. “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 data is derived from the report entitled “E-Government & Healthcare ID Cards – 2014” from the Digital ID & IT Security Service at IHS.
While overall growth will slow, some countries have been enthusiastic about ePassports. In Australia IHS is predicting the majority of passports will contain an embedded microcontroller by the end of 2015. Moreover, countries such as Austria, Denmark, Italy, Malaysia, the Philippines and Hong Kong—to name a few—are also mature ePassport markets.
On the other hand, some markets historically have experienced more political unrest, which has resulted in interruptions to the deployment of ePassports.
For example, India’s major deployment remains on hold, missing the planned 2013 launch. Other countries that are affected by governmental challenges despite the increased need for enhanced ID security at the borders include Germany, Ukraine and Indonesia.
Overall, Asia-Pacific region accounted for the highest number of ePassport shipments in 2013, at 40% of the global market. This was closely followed by Europe with 32%. The smallest region was the Middle East and Africa, estimated to have taken only 8% of global ePassport shipments in the same year.
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.