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Friday 21st December 2001

Gemplus: CEO and Chairman resign

Gemplus announced on Wednesday the immediate resignation of its Chief Executive Antonio Perez and the resignation of its founder and Chairman Dr Marc Lassus effective 10th January 2002. Dr Lassus will however remain a Director of Gemplus. Antonio Perez leaves to pursue other interests.

Mr Ronald Mackintosh an existing member of the company's board of directors takes over the wheel as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Executive committee but resigns his position from the board of directors in order to focus on these new responsibilities.

Dr Hasso Von Falkenhausen has been elected to the board with immediate effect and takes over as chairman on January 10th 2002. Dr Falkenhausen before retiring was previously Chairman of Gemplus from 1997 to 1999.

Antonio Perez's position at Gemplus has looked very fragile over the last 6 months so probably no big surprises there but this is clearly a major shake up of the top of the shop. David Bonderman from the Texas Pacific Group has joined the board of directors as Vice Chairman with Abel Halpern leaving the post but remaining a director. Mr Andrew Dechet and Dr Bertrand Cambou have both resigned from the board.

Apparently a top firm of head-hunters will be appointed to find a new permanent CEO and Chairman. Its hard to imagine which outsider would be truly welcomed into the Gemplus lair but its clear that a radical rethink is required and perhaps more important the oarsmen need to pull in the same direction.


ID Data: Posts pretax loss of 2.8M

Peter Cox, chief executive of Smart Card manufacturer ID Data reported a 1.5M reduction in the 6 month sales figures to September 30 resulting in group turnover of 7.2M. Losses of 1.6M last year were expected to reduce to 600K but instead have increased to a 2.8M loss. Yesterday the shares dropped by almost a quarter to 19 1/2p from their year high of 60p.

As Peter Cox explained the problems have been due to a reduction of 3.1M in sales to Marconi for pre-paid phone cards.

The company has stressed its confidence that the second half will be significantly better than the first citing the GSM and multi-application markets as the way towards profitability. The company has revealed its intent to manufacture and market a new range of GSM SIM cards. These cards produced in agreement with Pathfinder Telecom Group are aimed at reducing the cost of international call roaming for which initial orders are expected to be delivered in January 2002.

The recent news of problems at Gemplus whose major business is in the wireless world makes it difficult to feel as enthusiastic as the company that SIM and multi-application are going to suddenly turn the corner, more cautious people might expect another 6 month delay, but eventually it will come.


Cubic Corporation: $38.3M Smart Card Based Mass Transit System

Cubic Transportation Systems a subsidiary of Cubic Corporation has won a $38.3M order from The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to deliver the nations first statewide smart card ticketing system.

Using a single smart card the MTA scheme involves the subway, light rail, commuter rail, and the regional bus system. This contract completes the State's seamless transit scheme and the regional expansion of Washington's SmarTrip smart card system in use for rail and parking tickets since 1999.

Installation of the new scheme starts in 2003 and should be complete by Q3 2004. As part of the TranSys consortium Cubic is also supplying the automated fare collection system (including smart cards) for the London PRESTIGE project.


Liberty Alliance: The Internet Identity Programme takes shape

The Liberty Alliance Project initially formed by SUN to develop standards for managing personal information on the internet and which now offers the only credible alternative to the Microsoft Passport initiative for establishing an internet identity program has reported the addition of seven new members including AOL, American Express, and Mastercard who between them bring a substantial consumer base.

Its all about who trusts who on the internet and whilst Microsoft probably gets a low score here, in its shear domination of the client software it wins hands down. The battle is all over sign-on for internet commerce, Microsoft's Passport does it all for you, it holds your personal data and passes it on to the merchant as required. Passport claims to have over 200M users but most probably don't realise they are members since the scheme is invoked as part of the Hotmail e-mail service.

The Alliance takes a different approach in that it wants to develop common standards that allow the participants to manage their own customer identities. In this sense the personal information is distributed instead of being in one place (Microsoft).

Its hard to believe that consumers will all be happy to trust Microsoft with their personal data but stranger things have been known to happen.


Smart Visa Framework: Designed by Visa, developed by Oberthur

It seems like just about everybody wants to manage our personal data. Visa has just released the Smart Visa Framework, a set of common commands, data structures, security protocols, and access methods designed to generically help manage personal data on smart cards under Open Platform 2.0 (used to be Visa Open Platform or VOP then Global Platform).

The Framework is available free of charge from Visa with the CosmopolIC Lite Framework Entry point multi-application card (16K EEPROM) without PKI feature available from Oberthur. Caradas Inc are offering an integration testing service for new applications.

Fundamental to the smart Visa Framework apparently is a generic applet suite that allows extensible and concurrent data structures which all sounds a bit like XML.

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