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2019: the secure transactions industry concentrates


At this time of the year, it is time to look in the rear view mirror and try to sort out the most important events of the past year.

Sixteen months were needed between the original announcement of the acquisition of Gemalto by Thales and its completion. This change has probably frozen the structure of the leaders in the secure transactions industry for a while.

However, the activities of each of these players may evolve. Thales announced as a part of the Gemalto acquisition process that its ambition was to become a world leader in cybersecurity, which implicitly implies a disengagement from the least profitable segments of the smart card activities, namely SIM cards and potentially to a lesser extent payment cards. Also, rumor has it that the other two leading players in the industry, Idemia and Giesecke & Devrient, are also considering divesting from their SIM manufacturing divisions.

While the Tier 1 appears now structured for a while with Thales, Idemia and Giesecke & Devrient, Tier2 players keep on evolving, and this year has seen lots of interesting M&A activities.

HID Global has undertaken a series of acquisitions that reinforce its positioning in the government ID and digital ID segments. This year, the company announced the acquisitions of the international identity solutions business of De La Rue, of HydrantID, a US-based specialist of PKI Services, of Placard, a major Australian smart card manufacturer and of LUX-Ident, a provider of RFID components based in the Czech Republic. One may remember HID Global acquired Crossmatch in 2018 and Arjo Systems in 2017, which complete the picture of a clear priority set by the HID management to become an even heavier player in the government ID and digital ID businesses.

Paragon ID is expanding its footprint in the secure transactions industry: after having acquired ASK in 2017 and AmaTech in 2018, Paragon ID announced at the end of 2019, the acquisition of Thames Technology, a major UK-based card manufacturer.

IN Groupe, formerly known as Imprimerie Nationale, is also growing its activities portfolio, especially in the identity segment. The company already owns SPS, a manufacturer of card and passport subsets, and the identity management business of Thales it acquired in 2017. Now, IN Groupe has just completed the acquisition of Surys (formerly Hologram Industries), an expert in document security and traceability, and a pioneer in optical-digital authentication.

Valid, one of the most important Tier 2 players in the industry has announced the acquisition of a 51% interest in BluPay, a fintech specialized in blockchain-based financial transactions.

These movements show our industry is in a permanent evolution and always ready to adapt to market changes and to anticipate the technologies and markets of the future.


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