The number of contactless smart cards shipped annually will break the 1 billion mark by 2014, according to IMS Research.

"The market for contactless is set to nearly double between 2008 and 2014 as the three largest end-user sectors — government and health-care identification, transportation and payment and banking cards — all gain traction," Don Tait, an analyst at the British research company, said in a press release last week.

The report cited health care as the biggest sector, but transportation also is booming. IMS said it expects bank and payment cards to move the fastest toward contactless. Though there are relatively few shipments in that sector to date, consumer awareness and adoption are growing, IMS said.

However, adoption is not always smooth, according to John Devlin, IMS' research director. "One key area that has yet to fully adopt contactless is mobile," he said, citing the lack of a common certification standard as a chief cause.

The lack of agreements between various stakeholders also is holding back the growth in payments using near-field communication technology, IMS said. It is not forecasting major contactless shipments in the mobile segment until 2012.

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