Oberthur Aims for 10% Smart Card Share of Brazilian Market

French smart card company Oberthur Card Systems is aiming for a 10% share of the smart card supply market in Brazil and has opened a smart card factory in Cotia (SP) in response to the mobile sector's growth rate, local daily Estado de Sao Paulo reported.

With the exception of Vivo, Brazilian mobile companies have begun to adopt GSM technology, in which the telephone number and other client information are recorded in the type of chip card to be manufactured by Oberthur in its Brazilian factory.

There were 59.7 million cell phones in Brazil in October, of which 17.2 million were GSM lines.

"Mobile telephony is exploding in Brazil," Oberthur president Pierre Barberis was quoted as saying. Initially the factory will produce 12 million chip cards a year, employing 40 employees and using imported processors. "In the same factory, we can reach a capacity of 40 million," he added.

The new factory's first clients will be mobile operators Telemig Celular and Amazonia Celular, of Grupo Opportunity. The unit will also serve other countries in South America.

The company is also banking on strong growth in the use of smart cards in Brazil's financial sector next year in substitution for magnetic cards. "The smart card is much safer," Dossa said.

Oberthur has been planning to install a factory in Brazil for the past two years. The company analyzed two opportunities for partnerships with local companies for a year but the talks fell through.

"In both cases, there was poor appreciation of the technological sophistication," Dossa said.

In the telecommunications sector, Oberthur has its eye on the 24.4 million Brazilians using TDMA mobile phones and who will have to migrate in the short or medium term to GSM (with card) or to the CDMA a system (without card) used by Vivo.