Contactless Ticketing Smart Card Shipments Saw a Post-COVID Recovery of 6% in 2021

Despite recovery, smart card shipments won’t reach pre-pandemic levels until 2025
14 Apr 2022

After a significant decrease in 2020, the worldwide shipments of contactless ticketing smart cards recovered 6% to reach 302 million in 2021, according to ABI Research, a global technology intelligence firm. While many countries are still in various states of reduced transit services, the chipset shortage will make its presence known in 2022, causing a shortfall in supply for lower ASP end markets and resulting in a drop in 2022 shipments to just under 290 million.  

2021 resulted in low growth for the overall contactless ticketing market on a global scale. Overall, 2021 saw a total of 302 million micro and memory shipments, with continued migration from memory to microcontroller, but lower growth because of the continuing pandemic and many countries maintaining distancing measures. With most global transport networks running limited services, ridership was much lower than pre-pandemic levels,” says Sam Gazeley, Digital Payment Technologies Research Analyst at ABI Research.

It is unlikely that the global market for ticketing smart card shipments will recover in several years. This is not only due to the ongoing pandemic concerns in most countries, but also the chipset shortage, which is currently in its most critical year. The short supply of chips to cards will be felt more harshly in developing and emerging economies, as transit authorities struggle to stump up the higher ASP the contactless ticketing smart cards will now command. North America and Europe will experience lessened effects.

Many transit authorities are looking to migrate to EMV as a standard for their ticketing solutions. With contactless payments in all markets experiencing a sharp upturn during COVID-19, around 150 large cities are looking to transition from proprietary systems toward EMV, including those in Ireland, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), India, and Russia. California is also looking to implement a state-wide closed-loop EMV system,” Gazeley explains.

While the trend toward mobile ticketing was already present pre-pandemic, moving into a post-COVID ticketing ecosystem has only served to accelerate the move toward mobile. A requirement to increase the level of choice of contactless experiences, coupled with the chipset shortage, has forced the hand of many transit authorities to expand ticketing options to entice travelers back to the transit network.

As it relates to mobile ticketing, QR codes will still hold the lion’s share of the mobile ticketing market (QR code tickets accounted for 64% of all tickets delivered in 2021). According to Gazeley, “This is thanks to a mature and well-established market presence in airline boarding passes, paired with a growing presence in mass transit applications within the Asia-Pacific region, most notably in China and India.”

These findings are from ABI Research’s Contactless Ticketing Smart Card Technologies market data report. This report is part of the company’s Digital Payment Technologies research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights. Market Data spreadsheets are composed of deep data, market share analysis, and highly segmented, service-specific forecasts to provide detailed insight where opportunities lie.

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