Smartcard vendor Gemplus says it will spend $US50 million over three years to build up its manufacturing and sales operations in Asia. The investments will be made in India, China and Singapore, to tap into the region's strong interest in smartcard technology.
The region currently accounts for 14%of world smartcard sales, but this proportion will rise rapidly, according to Gemplus.
"Asia-Pacific will account for one-third of the global smartcard market by the year 2000 and Gemplus is active in these markets with over 60%market share," said Remy de Tonnac, CEO of Gemplus Asia-Pacific.
Gemplus will invest $20 million to make Singapore its regional manufacturing hub, planning to build one plant capable of turning out 40 million secure and financial smartcards per year, and a second plant with an annual capacity of 80 million micro-modules, the small assemblies which house microprocessors.
The Paris, France-based company will spend $10 million to add new production lines to its two existing plants in China, and $20 million on a range of new operations in India.
Gemplus has established a research and development facility in the International Tech Park in Bangalore, India, which, over the next five years, will develop the next generation of smartcard chip operating systems and a suite of software products supporting the smartcard, the company said. This is Gemplus' second R&D center in Asia, the other being in Singapore. Gemplus also plans to set up a high tech smartcard manufacturing facility in India by the end of 1999.
Principal applications for smartcards in the region include banking, telecommunications, transportation, health care, and access control, the company said.
Gemplus said it is working with an Indian partner to operate a microprocessor-based smartcard banking system, as well as providing mobile phone cards to 10 telecommunications operators in India.
Gemplus can be found on the Internet at http://www.gemplus.com/.