By Lynn Tan, ZDNet Asia


SINGAPORE–Radio frequency identification (RFID) will grow
alongside the barcode technology in the Asia-Pacific region over the
next few years, where government support is crucial in driving the
adoption of RFID, says an analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

Speaking to ZDNet Asia today on the sidelines of an RFID seminar
organized by Intermec, Jafizwaty Ishahak, industry manager of smart
cards and auto ID group for Frost & Sullivan Asia-Pacific, said
RFID will continue to coexist with barcodes for the next five
years–unless there is a government mandate to change that.

Jafizwaty noted that price remains a primary factor, where barcode is still a cheaper technology compared to RFID.

Malaysia, she added, is as an example of where the government’s
commitment to drive the use of RFID had led to the successful adoption
of chip-based credit cards in the country. A government mandate pushed
banks in Malaysia to migrate from magnetic-striped to chip-based credit cards.

In addition, the Malaysian government made considerable efforts
to drive the growth of RFID in the country, said Jafizwaty. These
include the “positive development” of the Malaysian Microchip, which
was recently re-launched by the Malaysian Prime Minister, the
establishment of an RFID center of excellence and training center, as
well as plans by the country’s Veterinary Services Department to tag
all of Malaysia’s 2.5 million livestock animals with economic value
such as cattle, goats and pigs, by 2008.

Jafizwaty added that Malaysia’s Home Ministry will soon be
rolling out the first government application based on the radio
frequency technology to combat piracy. It plans to deploy RFID-enabled
holographic security labels to verify the authenticity of CDs and DVDs.
In addition, the ministry is also looking to embed RFID chips into
marriage and birth certificates to counter forgery, she said.

Governments in other countries across the region, such as
Australia, Singapore and Thailand, have also been “driving the market
for RFID”, said Jafizwaty.

For instance, Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority invested S$10 million (US$5.9 million) in a three-year plan to promote the adoption and development of RFID technology in 2004, she said. In July last year,
the republic also opened a research facility focusing on the use of the
technology for deployment across the region’s lifestyle and hospitality

Meanwhile, some Asian countries are looking to implement RFID
in niche areas, Jafizwaty said. For example, Thailand is planning to
use RFID to track animals in Thailand, she said.

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