Global Economics

Asia RFID Market Needs Gov't Boost


Barcodes are still cheaper, but the government is pushing the newer technology by rolling out its own radio frequency-based applications

Radio frequency identification (RFID) will grow alongside the barcode technology in the Asia-Pacific region over the next few years, where government support is crucial in driving the adoption of RFID, says an analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

Speaking to ZDNet Asia today on the sidelines of an RFID seminar organized by Intermec, Jafizwaty Ishahak, industry manager of smart cards and auto ID group for Frost & Sullivan Asia-Pacific, said RFID will continue to coexist with barcodes for the next five years--unless there is a government mandate to change that.

Jafizwaty noted that price remains a primary factor, where barcode is still a cheaper technology compared to RFID.

Malaysia, she added, is as an example of where the government's commitment to drive the use of RFID had led to the successful adoption of chip-based credit cards in the country. A government mandate pushed banks in Malaysia to migrate from magnetic-striped to chip-based credit cards.

In addition, the Malaysian government made considerable efforts to drive the growth of RFID in the country, said Jafizwaty. These include the "positive development" of the Malaysian Microchip, which was recently re-launched by the Malaysian Prime Minister, the establishment of an RFID center of excellence and training center, as well as plans by the country's Veterinary Services Department to tag all of Malaysia's 2.5 million livestock animals with economic value such as cattle, goats and pigs, by 2008.

Jafizwaty added that Malaysia's Home Ministry will soon be rolling out the first government application based on the radio frequency technology to combat piracy. It plans to deploy RFID-enabled holographic security labels to verify the authenticity of CDs and DVDs. In addition, the ministry is also looking to embed RFID chips into marriage and birth certificates to counter forgery, she said.

Governments in other countries across the region, such as Australia, Singapore and Thailand, have also been "driving the market for RFID", said Jafizwaty.

For instance, Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority invested S$10 million (US$5.9 million) in a three-year plan to promote the adoption and development of RFID technology in 2004, she said. In July last year, the republic also opened a research facility focusing on the use of the technology for deployment across the region's lifestyle and hospitality industry.

Meanwhile, some Asian countries are looking to implement RFID in niche areas, Jafizwaty said. For example, Thailand is planning to use RFID to track animals in Thailand, she said.

Provided by ZDNet Asia—Where Technology Means Business

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