Perhaps because credit cards and other forms of transfer had no infrastructure in Asia, there was a void in which smart cards could blossom. There is an airport being built in (Malaysia or Indonesia as I remember) in which the entire payroll is being done via smart card. Acceptance in Europe has also been much faster than the US.
I am not sure whether smart cards will prove to be the primary solution. I remember an Italian movie in the 60s in which transfers were done by a handprint read to a central data file where the transaction was recorded to accompany the physical transfer at the transaction site. Smart cards will still require some proof positive to succeed. With the Internet it might be that the transactions can all be done without a card, just a retina scan or a read of the electrical field around the body's sweat glands or a hand print or, well you get the idea.
The primary role of the smart card would be to provide a portable data file of almost any content you can imagine - identification, medical records, etc. However, in the end the Internet might render all such data files redundant except those which you would not want hacked, such as the plans for building a germ warfare bomb.