ABI Research has forecast SIM card shipments will reach nearly 6 billion in 2017 and maintain relatively stable growth until 2021 despite a sharp decline in NFC SIMs worldwide. The NFC SIM (known to the industry as Single Wire Protocol SIM) is losing its fight against the eSE (Embedded Secure Element) and HCE (Host Card Emulation) that continue to gain momentum due to ongoing interest from banks, financial institutions and transportation authorities.

“With the steady drop of Single Wire Protocol and declining average selling prices, the SIM market has no choice but to adapt accordingly,” said Dimitrios Pavlakis, industry analyst at ABI Research. “It is necessary to take more aggressive steps to market higher-end SIMs with RSA encryption, memory capacity above 512KB, 4FF form factor, and of course, higher incentives for LTE SIMs to ensure a level of revenue growth in a flattening market.”

Leading SIM card and IC vendors include G&D, Gemalto, Morpho and Oberthur Technologies. EM Microelectronic, Infineon and Samsung continue to lead the market. 4G SIM penetration rates are increasing rapidly, albeit with varying degrees of regional success and overall 4G SIM shipments are forecast to account for 43% of the total SIM shipments by 2021.

On a global scale, while North America and Europe are remaining relatively stable in terms of new organic growth, ABI Research detects the largest growth percentage will occur in Latin America, Africa and select Asia-Pacific regions. Specifically, China emerged as a prominent player in the LTE race with both government and industry entities showing signs that the region is planning to dominate the race for upcoming 5G rollouts.