As more transit systems adopt advanced fare-payment systems, demand is rising significantly for smart cards that can support them, according to Frost & Sullivan International.

Worldwide shipments of smart cards for transit payments should grow at an 11% compound annual rate through 2015, the market research company reported Tuesday.

"In terms of demand, there are a lot of cities either developing new transit systems or improving existing systems," said Yiru Zhong, an analyst in Frost & Sullivan's information and communication technologies group. Furthermore, commuters in some cities must use different cards for different transportation modes, she said. Installing smart card-based systems can avert duplication and make commuting simpler.

The use of smart cards has matured in Europe, and large cities like Shanghai are now considered "hot spots for future smart card-based transit projects," Zhong said.

The emergence of alternative transportation payment methods is also laying the groundwork for greater adoption of smart cards with multiple applications, according to Frost & Sullivan. Many cities have contactless transportation payment systems or plans to develop one, the report said.

In the United States, for example, the Chicago Transit Authority, which already operates a contactless ticketing system, recently announced plans for a fare-collection system that would let people use their mobile phones to pay fares.

Japan, Dubai and India also are planning contactless transit payment programs or have introduced them.

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