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Gemplus, the world’s leading producer of magnetic stripe cards and smart cards, announces the sale of its billionth phonecard.  The billionth phonecard was produced for France Telecom, one of the 100 operators who have chosen Gemplus’ products and services to develop their networks.  

Currently, over ten phonecards per second, ie one million per day, are manufactured in Gemplus’ plants throughout the world to meet the increasingly high levels of demand.  The world market for phone cards is estimated at 700 million, and to be growing at a rate of over 30% per annum.  Gemplus claims top position as a supplier, with 43% of the phonecard market.

Gemplus was  founded in 1988, with an initial order of one million phonecards from France Telecom.  Nine years later, the French operator remains one of its major customers along with Telmex, Mexico, Deutsche Telecom, Germany, China Telecom, China, and CAN TV, Venezuela.

The Asia-Pacific market is currently booming, with the recent adoption by the Chinese market of the phonecard.  Using three million phonecards in 1996, and 70 million units in 1997, the Chinese market alone will undoubtably reach one billion phonecards per annum by the year 2000, to become Gemplus’ largest customer in terms of volume.

To meet the phenomenal growth of these markets, Gemplus has opened two new smart card production plants during 1996 and 1997: Cuanavarca in Mexico and Tianjin in China, essentially devoted to the phonecard market.  Production capacities of both plants will soon reach 100 million cards per year in Mexico and China to address the local needs as quickly as possible.

According to Marc Lassus, founder and Chairman-CEO of the Gemplus Group, “Since the first phonecards delivered to France Telecom in 1988, it’s been like a landslide, phonecards have won over the world in just nine years, and there are still a number of countries to be conquered.  Phonecards will become even smarter, evolving into small electronic purses, and either contact or contactless...the future looks bright for Gemplus.”

Additional Information about Gemplus

Gemplus Group is the world’s leading producer of magnetic stripe cards and smart cards. Gemplus manufactures and sells memory cards, microprocessor cards (both contact and contactless), magnetic stripe cards, as well as electronic tags. It also designs and markets software, terminals and systems; and provides personalisation, consultancy and training services to offer its customers comprehensive solutions.

In 1996, Gemplus’ total sales were $440 million (equivalent to £281 million on 15 October 1997). In 1997, the company boasts a production capacity of 900 million magnetic stripe and smart cards.

Gemplus sells its products worldwide for such applications as public and cellular telephony, financial transactions, loyalty, transportation, education, healthcare, gaming, identity, access control, pay TV, security for computer networks and electronic commerce.

Information about Gemplus’ products and services can be found on the World Wide Web at:


If you plan to publish Gemplus' address or telephone number, please use:
Gemplus Ltd, New Lane, Havant, Hants PO9 2NR  TEL: 01705 486 444                 FAX: 01705 472 081  URL:

If you plan to use a reader response service please route enquiries through:
Gemplus Ltd, International Information Centre, Wheathills Farm, Brun Lane, Mackworth, Derby DE22 4NE


In the first instance to: Julie Tomlinson, The Media Crystal, Wheathills Farm,Brun Lane, Mackworth, Derby DE22 4NE England.  TEL: 01332 824 781        FAX: 01332 824 755     Email:                           
Please quote our ref: gem/60

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