Universal Smart Cards | CommonwealthFirst | World Champion in SME Support

Universal Smart Cards – Third Cohort Export Champion


Smart cards and smart devices

Location: Lancashire
Company website: www.usmartcards.com
Sectors: Finance & Technology

Universal Smart Cards is a market leader in the supply and deployment of smart cards and related smart products. Having shipped over 300 million products worldwide, they are able to offer clients a vast array of smart cards, card readers, card printers and accessories, together with RFID wristbands, key fobs, labels and tags.

Universal Smart Cards offers a ‘one stop shop’ for smart products. They also provide advice and consultancy services to facilitate the implementation of smart cards for applications including (but not limited to); corporate ID, IT login and physical access, cashless payments, print management, loyalty and membership, time and attendance and asset tracking.

Over the last decade the company has seen significant growth with end customers including Formula 1, Premier League football clubs, blue chip retailers and TfL. It has a dedicated team of industry specialists, with over 100 years combined smart card experience, working from 3 locations across the UK.

The business now sees strategic expansion into overseas markets as a natural way to grow further. With the rapid growth of certain markets – Internet of Things, RFID, NFC, and Wearables, which has been forecast to be exponential – they have seen sizeable opportunities to promote their innovative products and capability.

CommonwealthFirst looks forward to supporting Universal Smart Cards to develop its export strategy and to approach vast and populous new markets including India, Nigeria, South Africa and Canada.


Apply now to become an Export Champion.

Paul May, Commercial Director, Universal Smart Cards

Paul May, Commercial Director, Universal Smart Cards

What future trends are you seeing within your industry?
I see a growing market for RFID products as payment is disrupted by new fintechs.  And I see ‘pull through’ from smart phone based apps which need a ‘lowest common denominator’ token = the smart card, smart device.

How did the idea for your business come about?
Universal Smart Cards was founded by the 2 owners 16 years ago to provide an independent flexible customer service orientated smart card business as an alternative to the monolithic global corporate entities.

What makes your business unique?
Our breadth of portfolio, our superb supply chain/partner network, our customer service and our independence set us apart.

What difficulties have you encountered setting up your business?
The business is well established.

What are the biggest trade and export challenges you face?
Resource and time – our portfolio is such that it is sold into several vertical markets, and as such it is difficult to focus and any particular market/geography.

What are the most crucial things you have done to grow and develop your business?
Developed a first class supply chain and network. And built our brand.

How did you hear about the CWF programme and what made you apply?
Through my local International Trade Business advisor at East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.

What are you hoping to get out of the CWF programme?
Focus and impetus to concentrate on export strategy.

What projects do you have in the pipeline that you can share with us?
Loads! Best two at the moment are the Lucazade marketing project we did- we put payment devices on the bottom of Lucazade bottles, which were distributed as a promotional activity at London Underground Stations – This allowed recipients to use the bottle to tag in and out of the barriers and have a free ride –‘powered’ by Lucazade.

The other one is a potential smart card based digital cash pilot in the foothills of the Himalayas! We are supporting our partner/agent there – Ram Banerjee from Transaxiom.  This could turn into a massive deployment.

What is a typical working day for you?
No two days the same.

Where would you like your business to be in 5 years time?
Ready for the next level and whatever that brings.

What advice would you give to anybody looking to set up an SME?
Research it and go for it. Network like crazy – there’s loads of help out there.


This interview was conducted as part of the CommonwealthFirst Export Champion interview series. Apply now to become an Export Champion.