A new report from research firm IHS has revealed that the Philippines, together with Australia, Austria, Denmark, Italy, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, is among the mature e-passport markets around the globe.
Asia was also identified as the most dynamic region where the penetration of e-passports is highest compared to Europe or the US.
However, IHS said its research indicates that e-passports are set to experience relatively weak shipment growth in the coming years, despite their capability to address rising security concerns at airports and border crossings.
Global shipments of e-passports will rise to 175 million units in 2019, up from 113 million in 2013. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.6 percent during the six-year period.
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.
In comparison, shipments of electronic identification for use as drivers? licenses, healthcare cards and national ID credentials all are expected to enjoy double-digit CAGRs from 2013 through 2019. Shipments of e-passports will rise at only half the rate of the fastest-growing form of electronic government identification: national IDs.
?Programs utilizing e-passports face a host of challenges, including government legislation, country risk, political opposition and economic concerns,? said Wincey Tang, digital ID and IT security analyst at IHS for IHS.
?This multitude of obstacles is slowing the growth of e-passports 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 e-passport supplements the traditional paper passport, adding a microcontroller chip that contains biometric information used to authenticate travelers? identities.
These chips employ the same kind of technology used in contactless smart cards, allowing wireless data transfer of ID data. Biometric information stored on these devices includes facial, fingerprint and iris recognition data
The Land Down Under moves to the top
Some countries have embraced e-passport technology more enthusiastically than others.
In Australia, for example, IHS is predicting the majority of passports will contain an embedded microcontroller by the end of 2015.
On the other hand, some markets historically have experienced more political unrest, which has resulted in interruptions to the deployment of e-passports.
For example, India?s major deployment remains on hold, missing the planned 2013 launch. Other countries that are heavily affected by governmental challenges despite the increased need for enhanced ID security at the borders include Germany, Ukraine and Indonesia.
Asia leads the way
Overall, Asia-Pacific region accounted for the highest number of e-passport shipments in 2013, at 40 percent of the global market. This was closely followed by Europe with 32 percent.
The smallest region was the Middle East and Africa, estimated to have taken only 8 percent of global e-passport shipments in the same year.
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 e-passport market is growing fastest; or they represent areas where the program is either relatively new or has experienced additional initiatives.
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.
Nonetheless, it appears that security-related fears could become a driving force in encouraging volumes, and that government-controlled plans will remain the pivotal influencer in most e-passport programs.