A new report predicts that there will be 3.5 billion smart cards in circulation worldwide by 2001 and that financial services applications will weigh in as the second most important vertical market.

The findings are part of "Opportunities in Global Smart Card Markets," a report issued by Datamonitor, an independent strategic management consultancy. While growth in the use of smart cards for financial services applications is restricted by issues such as data privacy, standards, consumer reluctance to stop using cash and costs to convert existing card terminals, banks and international card issuers will drive usage of these cards, thereby removing many of the existing barriers.

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