The Nilson Report

Issue 1166 | Dec 2019


Companies featured in this issue include:

Consumer Payment Systems in the U.S.—Purchase Transactions in 2018

Investments & Acquisitions—November 2019

Total Chip Card Shipments 2018

Other POS Devices Shipped—2018

Largest Maestro Issuers Worldwide

Top 150 Credit Card Issuers by Purchase Volume & Country 2018

U.S. Consumer Payment Systems—Paper, Cards, Electronic

Personal Consumption Expenditures in the U.S.

Total Chip Card Shipments 2018

On page 6 we list the 52 largest manufacturers of chip cards worldwide. The five largest are shown below.

1. Thales, Netherlands
2,393.0 million, 876.0 million payment cards
2. Idemia, France
1,694.0, million, 715.0 million payment cards
3. G+D Mobile Security, Germany
1,332.0 million, 542.0 million payment cards
4. Eastcompeace Technology, China
816.9 million, 163.4 million payment cards
5. XH Smart Tech, China
651.9 million, 68.1 million payment cards

Full access to the Total Chip Card Shipments 2018 results is available when you subscribe to The Nilson Report.

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Recycled Plastic for Smart Payment Cards

Nearly all of the more than 3.78 billion smart payment cards shipped last year were manufactured using virgin PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic. While PVC is not biodegradable, existing technology does allow for 40% to 50% of an EMV-compliant payment card to be made of recycled PVC. More than that amount of recycled PVC plastic content changes the mechanical property of PVC and makes it unsuitable for smart payment cards.

Cards manufactured by CPI Group in the U.S. can be made with a core comprised of recycled plastic reclaimed before it becomes ocean refuse. American Express will issue cards that contain PVC recycled from plastic obtained primarily from beaches, islands, and coastal communities. However, in both cases, the printing and overlay sheets are made with virgin PVC. 

Plastic that is biodegradable is not available in sufficient quantities to produce the over 6 billion payment cards (chip and magstripe) manufactured every year. 

PLA (polylactic acid) plastic is manufactured from renewable resources such as corn and is widely available. PLA-based cards have recently been made available to issuer customers of SIBS in Portugal. However, PLA is not yet a commodity product and therefore is more expensive than PVC. It also has a flaw when used in payment cards—PLA yellows over time and can’t deliver the quality images desired by card issuers. 

Linxens, which supplies the inlays card manufacturers use to add radio frequency identification wireless communication to EMV cards for contactless payments, has made an ecofriendly breakthrough working with Folienwerk Wolfen. 

That company is a specialist in the manufacture of high-quality extruded plastic films. It has developed PETG-based (polyethylene terephthalate) card-lamination films. 

PETG is a plastic resin that is easy to produce and can be sold to card manufacturers for only 10% more than the cost of virgin PVC plastic. PETG is 100% recyclable, can be recycled indefinitely, and is available at scale. PETG can be printed on, laminated, milled, and can accommodate magnetic stripes. Most payment cards in Japan use PETG. 

Folienwerk Wolfen can provide recycled PETG for inlays and printing sheets, which comprise 85% of the plastic in smart cards. 

Within six months, overlays used in the card manufacturing process will also be available in recycled PETG. 

Linxens has tested its inlays and says they match virgin PVC in quality. No new equipment is needed to use PETG plastic in the manufacturing process. 

Linxens’ recyclable inlay is being tested by top EMV-compliant payment card manufacturers in Europe.

HTP in Germany has provided third-party evaluation that the plastic used in Linxens inlays is recycled PETG. 

Linxens will be the first to market with its recyclable inlay product. However, it does not have an exclusive with Folienwerk Wolfen. 

Arnaud Brunetiére is Senior VP, FTA Business Unit at Linxens in Levallois-Perret, France,,

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