S'pore businesses eye green SIM, smartcards

Mobile operators in Singapore, and at least one bank, are exploring use of biodegradable material for SIM and smartcards, as option becomes available next year.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor on

SINGAPORE--Mobile operators in the country are exploring the use of biodegradable SIM (subscriber identity module) cards, should the technology become more pervasive.

Spokespersons from all three local operators SingTel, MobileOne (M1) and StarHub told ZDNet Asia they were interested in deploying the eco-friendly alternative.

StarHub's corporate communications manager Cassie Fong said in an e-mail the telco would soon commence "initial talks" with its SIM card supplier "to find out more on the product".

Gemalto bio-sourced degradable SIM card

Gemalto's new eco-friendly SIM card (Credit: Gemalto)

In an e-mail, a SingTel spokesperson noted that the company is already using biodegradable paper material for its pre-paid mobile top-up cards and is currently evaluating the use of biodegradable paper for all its SIM cards.

During the evaluation process, factors such as cost, card availability and card packaging will be considered, she added.

Amsterdam-based Gemalto last month unveiled smartcards and SIM cards made from renewable material, and which can be incinerated without emissions of toxic fumes.

The company's Asia vice president of marketing communications, Marcos Fernandes, said in an e-mail there has been "strong support and interest from key customers globally" for the new cards. "In Asia, these new card types are being introduced to our present customers, from whom we expect the same level of interest as in other markets," he said.

The cards are expected to be go into mass production in the first quarter of 2010.

Fernandes was unable to offer price comparisons of the biodegradable cards with conventional ones, but noted that the energy cost needed to produce the new cards "is similar to that of a typical PVC card".

One local bank is also keen to adopt the biodegradable smart cards. OCBC Bank's head of lifestyle credit, Lynn Gaspar, said in an e-mail the bank is "seriously looking" into the use of such cards.

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