$15 million for Italian ID cards

LaserCard Corporation has been awarded $15 million by the Italian government to provide optical memory cards for use in Italy's two national ID programs.

LaserCard Corporation

has been awarded $15 million by the Italian government to provide LaserCard optical memory cards for use in


's two national ID programs, the citizen ID card and the new foreign worker ID card.

The foreign worker card program was mandated by the Italian parliament in late 2004. Most foreign worker cards will be valid for two years and then will need replacing if the cardholder wishes to continue to work legally in Italy, while a smaller percentage, expected to be about ten percent, will be valid for only one year before they need to be replaced.

Deliveries under the foreign worker ID program are scheduled to be completed in April, 2006. The company anticipates that shipments of foreign worker ID cards will represent up to $5 million in revenues per year once the program is fully implemented.

The order for citizen ID cards follows the completion of two experimental phases during which LaserCard supplied more than two million cards.

In May 2005, the Italian legislature decreed that paper-based citizen IDs can no longer be issued after January 1, 2006. Under the new purchase order, deliveries of cards for the citizen ID program are scheduled to be completed by LaserCard in December, 2005. LaserCard Corporation said in a statement that full implementation of the citizen ID program will result in card shipments valued at approximately $40 million per year.

The Italian government is currently planning for the entire adult population to have new citizen IDs within about six years. The citizen card has a five-year validity period after which the citizen will require a new card.

Developed in close co-operation with various agencies of the Italian government, the foreign worker card uses the same LaserCard optical memory platform and follows the same format as the citizen ID card. Each card contains a secure one megabyte optical memory stripe in which an individual's demographics, colour facial image, digitised signature, fingerprint and other biometrics are recorded.

The LaserCards are also "chip-ready", enabling the Italian government to add an integrated circuit chip. The chip is used for the delivery of e-government services. The optical memory is present for fundamental card security and, by taking advantage of the Logical Data Structure standard for optical memory developed by the

International Civil Aviation Organisation

(ICAO), offers international interoperability at the level of the card's digital data. According to the Italian Interior Ministry, the citizen ID is already recognised as a travel card for border entry by some 32 European and North African countries.