Simon Burns
March 6, 2008

China’s market for RFID products will still be worth $1.4bn this year, analysts predict, despite a $6bn government identity card programme drawing to a close.

The single-party state, which has traditionally devoted huge resources to monitoring and controlling the movements of its people, is estimated to be investing $6bn in issuing RFID-equipped ID cards to its adult population by 2008.

Between 900 million and a billion cards will have been issued by the end of this year, according to ABI Research.

"That one programme generated significant revenue for local [RFID] vendors, and stood out in terms of its size and scope. But unfortunately all good things must end," said ABI analyst Michael Liard.

Liard warned that, as the ID card market dries up, China must prepare for RFID’s next wave and the applications that will "keep China in the RFID spotlight".

With most of China’s people now safely accounted for, one of RFID’s next big markets could be animal tagging, according to ABI.

"The Chinese government is anxious to use RFID tagging to enhance the safety and security management of food production," said Liard.

While much smaller than the revenues generated from tracking people, ABI still predicts that RFID chips for implantation in animals could be worth $94m annually by 2012.

Major US and European firms, such as Motorola, Texas Instruments, Infineon and Avery Dennison, all have a stake in the market.

Tickets for the Olympic Games and transport systems are another big market for RFID in China.

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