Universal Smart Cards celebrates 20th anniversary of supplying the world with its smart cards

MULTI-million pound, award winning company based in Hilsea has provided more than 136 million smart cards for the education, government, healthcare, transportation and finance sectors.

By Sophie Murray
Thursday, 18th November 2021, 2:53 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th November 2021, 2:56 pm
From left, joint directors, Chris Allen, Michael Smith and director of the Hilsea warehouse, Kevin Loveman. Picture: Habibur Rahman
From left, joint directors, Chris Allen, Michael Smith and director of the Hilsea warehouse, Kevin Loveman. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The warehouse in Nevil Shute Road, Hilsea, is Universal Smart Card’s technical centre, responsible for manufacturing as well as creating the software used to code the chips used in their smart cards.

Owners Michael Smith, 50, and Chris Allen, 50, both from London, used to work together in sales at a leading smart card manufacturer company, where they noticed the company wasn’t looking after their smaller clients.

Wanting to make a positive change and realising there was an emerging market, Michael and Chris started the company in Chris’ unborn daughter’s bedroom in 2001, after they both remortgaged their houses to buy their initial stock.

Universal Smart Cards Limited team at their Hilsea warehouse. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Now celebrating its 20-year anniversary, the company has now become a market leader and international distributor, generating an £8m annual turnover.

Michael said there are two sides to Universal Smart Cards’ business: distribution and technology. The distribution side was the company’s initial purpose, and as well as smart cards, it also offers companies smart card readers, printers and accessories.

The company supplies smart cards to a range of industries, including student cards for most UK universities, public transport travel cards, government access cards, and smart card readers for the healthcare sector.

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Universal Smart Cards Limited has just marked 20 years and has seen their products shipped all around the world. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Quality customer service is the first of the company’s ‘four pillars’, which Michael said underpins all the work that USC provides.

He said: ‘Amazing customer service is number one for us, so really looking after people. Number two is convenience, so that means keeping high levels of stock in place. Number three is quality, so that means working with manufacturers, and then value, so making sure pricing is competitive so people feel like they’re getting value for money.’

Michael said he is aware of distribution companies’ impact on the environment, so one of his priorities is the company’s effort to be sustainable. It has ISO 4001 accreditation, which is the international standard for environmental management systems.

He said: ‘We offset all our domestic deliveries so all the carbon from our UK deliveries is all offset, the customer doesn’t pay any more but it means they can have a clean conscience when they have a recycled PVC card delivered to their door.’

In 2019, USC was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise and International Trade, which is awarded to businesses for outstanding achievements in their field. It was awarded for ‘outstanding short term growth in overseas sales’ over the previous three years, which had grown by a total of 238 per cent.

For more information visit usmartcards.co.uk