U.S. EMV conversion expected to drive smart card shipments

by: Brandon Kuehl

Global EMV card shipments are expected to total more than 3 billion by 2019. Although moves by China are driving much of that total, the U.S. is expected to have a great impact on worldwide shipment numbers in the coming years

According to a recent ABI Research report, 1.7 billion EMV chip cards were shipped worldwide in 2013 (a 27-percent increase from 2012). In 2013, 442 million chip cards went to China, which is in the midst of an EMV card conversion to the People’s Bank of China card standard. Fifty-six percent of the 442 million cards sent to China were contactless.

ABI is forecasting double-digit annual growth in EMV card shipments through 2017. However, if not for China, global growth year-over-year would have totaled just 8.5 percent instead of 27 percent between 2012 and 2013. This illustrates the impact a single country’s card conversion can have on total global card shipments. ABI researchers predict with nearly 2 billion payment cards currently in circulation in the U.S., a similar “China effect” could occur as the U.S. migrates to EMV.

EMV card issuance in the United States has been slow going so far, but ABI Senior Analyst Phil Sealy expects it to pick up over the next few months. Indeed, new numbers released by the Payments Security Task Force (PSTF) support Sealy’s expectation. The PSTF, composed of nine of the U.S.’s largest payment card issuers, recently announced an estimated 575 million U.S. payment cards will feature EMV by 2015.

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