Biometric Research Note: Market for electronic identity cards projected to grow

November 14, 2012 - 

The Biometrics Research Group expects the market for electronic identity (eID) cards to reach US$5.2 billion by 2015. With the globalization of world trade, there has been an expansion in the flow of people and goods. In order to prevent counterfeiting and piracy along with terrorism activities, many governments maintain that more reliable identification and authentication methods are required. Consequently, many countries have been deploying eID cards or actively studying approaches to eID card implementation.

An eID card is typically a government-issued document for online and offline identification. Many countries, including Brazil, France, Indonesia, Poland, Russia, Malaysia and the Philippines, have been issuing electronic identity cards that will replace conventional identity cards. Other countries such as Greece, New Zealand and Rwanda has been actively studying their implementation. Even supranational institutions such as the European Union have long been developing technology and policy frameworks for eID deployment. Once a EU framework is completely standardized and accepted by member states, the Biometrics Research Group expects exponential growth within the eID market, since the Schengen Area is composed of over 700 million people.

The typical electronic identity card has the format of a regular bank card, with printed identity information on the surface, such as personal details and a photograph, as well as an embedded microchip.

An eID is more reliable than paper-based ID because it provides more data security with built-in privacy features. The use of digital signatures make it harder or even impossible to make a forged ID as the duplicate ones would invalidate existing digital signatures.

A citizen with an eID has the ability to use it for various different services, thus making the card multi-purposed. One of the unique aspects of the eID is its ability to authenticate the holder not only in the real world, but also in the virtual world. eID enables it holders to authenticate themselves securely when using an online service, while protecting their privacy.

Apart from online authentication, eID cards can provide users with the option to sign electronic documents with a digital signature for both government and private transactions. An eID is designed to be a trusted authentication mechanism for citizens and businesses to identify themselves in order to electronically access services from across government. Convenience to both users and the authorities is therefore a major advantage of eID systems.

In theory, an eID can be the only piece of identification that a citizen requires for all interactions with government. The cards can therefore be used for multiple purposes, including as a health insurance card for countries with socialized medicine, a social security card, a driver’s license, and for general identification. A further unique feature of an eID system is the ability to provide instant multi-lingual support through online systems.

eID systems also reduce duplication in terms of the time and effort necessary to issue identification across different government departments for varying services. eID systems also allows authorities to centralize the storage of data about citizens, making information footprints accessible from one credential. This benefit will predictably cause many governments to study, approve and implement the technology within the next decade, allowing the market to reach US$11.2 billion by 2020.

Biometric Research Notes provides forward-looking and systematic data about the global biometric market, allowing industry stakeholders to calculate political, economic and investment risk.

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About Rawlson King

Rawlson O’Neil King is a contributing editor at and is an experienced communications professional, management consultant, trade journalist and author who recently published a book about control and electronic networks and who has written numerous articles in trade publications and academic journals about smart home and building technologies. Follow him @rawlsonking2.