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When was the last time you stumbled upon a counterfeited product or were cheated with counterfeited note? The Middle East is not new to various counterfeiting practices but over the past few years, frauds related to counterfeiting has been increasing. This has paved way for a rise in security printing in the region. Security printing includes printing of banknotes, product authentication, postage stamps, identity cards, stock certificates and passports. Counterfeiting has been affecting every class of the society and it has been increasing at an alarming rate with criminal organizations petty criminals and amateur forgers unabatedly attempt and succeed in the trade of producing fake ID documents, passing counterfeit bank notes, invading supply chains with altered goods and packaging, and illegally copying tax stamps.

Government and companies use security printing to protect valuable documents by incorporating few features of the security printing in order to reduce the cost. Tempering, counterfeiting and forgery can be avoided using security printing. Security printing includes special paper, watermarks, intaglio printing, micro-printing, holograms, security threads, magnetic inks, anti-copying marks and serial numbers. Based on end-use applications, security printing market can be segmented as financial, tickets, brand protection, personal ID and others. Security printing is done to avoid tempering, counterfeiting and forgery.   

Asia Pacific emerged as the largest market for security printing in terms of demand. Middle East and Latin America is expected to be fastest growing in the next few years. Due to a stupendous rise in the disposal income and changing consumer behavior in the region, the security printing industry is expected to remain high for the next few years. With the political and economic turmoil in the Middle East serving as a conducive environment for security printing to thrive, the total market value for security printing in the Middle East and North Africa will grow 4.2% over the next five years to reach $1.9 billion. An increase in population, economic prosperity, rise in prices and political unrest are some of the riding factors of this growth. In geographical terms, Asia represented almost 50% of the global market for security printing in 2013 as the region holds over 55% of the global population. Western Europe, Eastern Europe and both of the Americas each held 10% or just under. A revival in the security printing industry is expected in North America in the coming years due to increasing awareness among consumer groups and companies about document security but European market is set to demonstrate a significant rise in the total market share in years to come.

Increasing importance of brand protection

Today, many companies are serious about brand protection. Popular brands are the main targets for product pirates. Hence, to combat this threat, companies are resorting to various asset management techniques. Asset management products are used in a variety of applications in order to prevent the copying or counterfeiting of branded products. It can also be used to identify grey market imports and to track and trace products in different geographic environments. Asset protection is generally applied to the packaging of branded products and it is designed in such a way that is difficult to replicate using standard printing and copying facilities and equipment. In most circumstances, it is impossible to reproduce easily.

The increasing need for brand protection is definitely accelerating the growth of the market. Consumers are more aware now and demand to track and trace the products they purchase to reduce the loss they might have to face. Consumer groups are evolving and it is helping the security printing industry grow.  Furthermore, increasing awareness about all the frauds in consumer groups is anticipated to drive the demand for security printing.

Top security printers in the industry

The security printing industry is not much of a saturated market and there are very few established players globally who have strong presence in all the major economies providing customized products and solutions for the customers. Some of the well known companies are Giesecke & Devrient, Madras Security Printers Private Ltd., De La Rue, 3M amongst others.

Giesecke & Devrient is a leading German international technology provider that develops, produces, and markets products and solutions for payment, secure communication, and identity management. It is known for its banknote production and processing. It supplies banks, mobile network operators, local public transit authorities, other companies, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with end-to-end solutions comprising hardware, software, and services for mobile security applications, especially in telecommunications and electronic payments. G&D also provides highly secure travel documents, ID systems, and healthcare cards that serve not only as conventional identification documents, but also as tools for authenticating and securing online business transactions

De La Rue is leading commercial banknote printer, security paper maker and provider of security products and software solutions. It partners with governments, central banks and commercial organizations across the globe and provides products and services to battle against the counterfeiter. This includes a leading design capability, production of innovative security components, manufacture of security paper and polymer substrates and sophisticated printing of banknotes, all contributing to trust in the integrity of currencies. De La Rue is also the world’s largest commercial passport manufacturer. It produces a wide range of other security products, including tax stamps for governments who are seeking to combat illicit trade and collect excise duties.  Other products include authentication labels, assuring purchasers of product validity, and government identity documents. De La Rue also provides a range of specialist services and software solutions including government identity schemes, product authentication systems and cash management processing solutions.

Madras Security Printers Private Ltd ( MSP) from India is involved in various specialized Smartcard and Security Printing activities. The company caters to the Smart Card / Security printing needs of various government ministries, revenue authorities, immigration departments, banking sectors, electoral commission, gsm operators, postal departments and corporate offices across the globe. It has also ventured into delivering end to end turnkey smart card based e-governance solutions.

United Security Printing (USP), the security printing division of United Printing and Publishing (UPP), working under the umbrella of Abu Dhabi Media is one of the leading security printers in the UAE. The company is a single source provider of total security printing solutions, catering to the evolving and expanding secure printing business needs of banking, government, telecom, retail, hospitality, transport and other industries seeking efficiency, security and personalization. IT offers full production, personalization for ISO and smart cards, fulfillment and distribution services for clients, all under one roof. Be it memory chips, RFID’s, prepaid sim cards, EMV for bank and financial institutions, loyalty cards for retailers or ID’s for driving license, the company does it all. Although the company is a major newspaper and commercial printer, during the last four years, UPP has invested more than 120 Million AED largely in security printing equipment and solutions. Their premises in Al Shahamah which was built in 2006, is very convenient as far as the distribution of newspaper is concerned. It’s strategically located between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

With the company’s new focus on security printing, part of the building was turned into a fortress equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and monitoring devices. Ali Saif Al Nuaimi, CEO for United Printing and Publishing (UPP) said, “Opening up a security printing division within UPP had its fair share of challenges. Security printing operation should be an isolated and separate section within the premises. We even installed motion sensors system in the building to track all the movements.”

Security Print Equipment Manufacturers

KBA NotaSys offers a unique range of products and services to authorized banknote printers and central banks enabling them to design, produce and issue banknotes according to their specific and individual needs. The company manufactures equipments that cover the entire banknote production process. The company has been successful in adapting and integrating specific printed security technologies into banknotes that has elevated their security, functionality and durability. It has been successful in identifying and developing the features and the processes necessary to print banknotes in a secure and cost-effective manner.

Mühlbauer High Tech International, a leading German group is a one-stop-shop technology partner for the smart card, ePassport, RFID and solar back-end industry. Further business fields are the areas of micro-chip die sorting, carrier tape equipment, as well as automation, marking and traceability systems. Mühlbauer’s Parts&Systems segment produces high precision components.

Digitization a deterrent to the industry

Digitization and convergence are two megatrends that the security printing industry needs to come to terms with. It is clearly a threat jeopardizing the very existence of the industry, or as an opportunity to innovate and evolve in order to address risk in a broader context. In the near foreseeable future, however, security printing will continue to fulfill its critical role of preventing and detecting alterations, forgeries and copies, and support product authenticity.

Imposing stringent regulations and standards across the world is expected to be a driving factor for security printing market. However, growing digitization and convergence are expected to hamper the market growth. Thus innovations to develop new products with high security are expected to provide immense opportunities for the players in the market.

Heavy investment requisition

Though security printing is a lucrative line of business in the printing industry, it indeed requires very high investment. Separate independent unit should be set up for security printing. It cannot be merged with regular commercial printing. Equipments printing bank notes, machines printing cards, sims etc also demand a huge investment. Since the product is global and every country in the world requires printing of bank notes and wants to secure a protective environment by fighting counterfeiting, opportunities in this unique sector is endless.


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