The world's leading microchips maker NXP Semiconductors is pitching for a multi-million dollar order from the Indian government to supply chips for electronic passports (e-passport), according to official sources.
"With the government of India deciding to go for e-passports soon, we are looking forward to provide our chips and contactless identification technology to the passport offices across the country," NXP India Sales and Marketing Director Ashok Chandak said in Bangalore on Friday.
The government will undertake a pilot programme this year-end to study the pros and cons of issuing e-passports with security features, including bio-metrics in place of the existing passports in book format.
"An electronic passport, which will be similar to the regular passport, will have an IC (integrated circuit) chip embedded in the back cover. The chip will securely store the same data displayed on the photo page of the passport and will include a digital photograph of the holder for biometric comparison," Chandak pointed out.
About 40 million passports are in use currently and around 10-12 million are issued every year by the regional passport offices. As the country gets integrated globally and more Indians travel abroad for various reasons, the number of passports is set to multiply manifold.
"We command market leadership in supplying ICs for e-passports. Around 85 percent of the developed countries adopting the electronic format are using NXP chips and identification systems," Chandak said.
Among the notable countries using NXP chips for e-passports are Austria, France, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore and the US.
NXP Semiconductors was founded and hived off by Royal Philips Electronics NV of the Netherlands.
The Indian subsidiary of the 5-billion euros NXP (Next Experience) is already supplying its contactless smart cards to Delhi's metro service for fare payment by commuters.
"The burgeoning transport sector offers huge opportunities for an extensive use of our RFID (Radio Frequency Identification technology). Over a million commuters are using our smart cards for fare payment to access the metro service," NXP President and CEO Frans van Houten said in Bangalore.