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What's up?

Week 45, 2007

Despite hundreds of rumors heard in the industry, no new major merger and acquisition has been happening since Cartes 2006. And the past mergers are getting better: Gemalto is slowly recovering from the shock of its creation out of Gemplus and Axalto, and is slowly reaching a more sedate situation, and Sagem Orga is successfully creating a company culture of its own, even if its future is still uncertain, because of the ongoing restructuring of the Safran group. Oberthur Card Systems and Giesecke & Devrient are the real winners of the mergers of other industrialists. There are still hundreds of rumors going on in the industry. Surely, some of them will come true, but nobody is able to anticipate with certainty which ones and when.

Since last year, Visa and MasterCard have totally changed their ownership, the global company have gone public or are in the process of going public, and the European structures are evolving in search of a balanced path between the 'bank association' and the 'private company'. First Data has been merged with KKR. Closer to the smart card day to day business, the EMV migration is ongoing, with several successes, and more countries are on the way towards a 100% smart card penetration. Contactless is still the center of all attentions, even if some analysts point out that there is more hype around contactless than an actual global scale success. The payment terminal industry is still in the race to critical size, though a series of acquisitions.

On the telecom market, mergers between operators happen quicker than ever. The most visible impact on the SIM industry is an ever increasing price pressure, to which the industrialists tend to answer by proposing more elaborate SIM cards, with always more memory, and more features.

There is no week without the announcement of one or two NFC pilots. But the path before a total guaranteed interoperability between all NFC devices is stil long. There is the need for more standardization, and a consensus on business models.

The ID market is booming…. New ePassports are deployed everywhere, and government seem to deploy an endless creativity in designing new ID programs. On the other hand, such programs may develop over a decade, leaving the industry in expectation in the meantime.

The smart card, or to use a broader expression, the Smart Security devices industry is still as innovative, fascinating, and quick-moving as ever. Let's enjoy meeting in Cartes, and develop this industry even better!

Thierry Spanjaard
Chief Editor
Smart Insights