e-Passports May Become Mandatory for India before 2017 Ends
One of India’s leading government smart card makers, Smart Card IT Solutions has signed an MoU to make e-Passports along with global leader for passport in-lays, Smartrac
Photo Credit : compareraja.in,
Deven Mehta got into the business of chip-based ID and transaction card making in 2011 as a greenfield project. Mehta who uses proprietary private equity to invest said, “I have been part of many notable companies, then one day I was approached for the idea of Smart Card IT Solutions (SCIT). I ended becoming a majority stakeholder in the company.”
SCIT has grown tremendously. According to Deven, SCIT makes 1.2 Million cards a day. Since demonetization, demand for debit and credit cards have increased 7X. They provide 2.5 crore SIMs per month to 40 percent of India’s population. The company will also hope to bid for the Aadhaar card tender which will be worth over rupees 900 crore (180 million citizens, 50 rupees a card).
Now Deven Mehta in his capacity as chairman and MD is ready to make the jump to making the chip for e-Passports.
“We have signed a MoU with Smartrac, the world’s leading passport in-lay maker and we have already finalised a facility here in India to manufacture the e-Passport chip in support of the Make in India campaign. We should be ready to launch operations in the next 6 months. The pilot machinery will be imported by end of June. The MoU is part of a 50:50 JV with partnership between Smartrac, the world’s largest e-Passport inlay producer who also happens to be the leading provider to the Indian subcontinent market,” Deven said. It’s a strategic and financial investment and both parties have put in 50 crore each as initial investment by way of equity capital.
In June 2016, the India Security Press (a unit of Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India) had invited tenders for the procurement of 22.5 million ICAO-compliant electronic contactless inlays for Indian e-Passports.
“This supplier has already provides in-lays to 85 percent of the United States of America and many other developed countries like U.K., Australia, New Zealand. Globally the company has the capacity to produce 15 crore passport in-lays a year.”
Under the JV, SCIT will make the electronic chip that essentially puts the ‘e’ in e-Passport. “We will make the chips (Inlays) for the e-Passport. It will contain the travel history, personal information, visa information and more,” said Deven.
Deven believes this is a golden opportunity for his company. “The ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization, part of the UN) has been pushing for e-Passports for some time now. With rising global security threats and international travel risks rising, e-Passports that are much harder to duplicate or fake will help increase security assurance of all travellers and immigration authorities around the world. In fact, the more advanced nations have just short of threatened India to issue e-Passports by saying visa to these nations will not be issued. So the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) has made e-Passports a top priority and will likely start rolling them out within 2017 itself.”
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