Gemplus Selected for Electronic Visa Pilot in France

Gemplus to supply contactless smart card technology for French government's border control initiative


Luxembourg - Gemplus International S.A., the world's leading provider of smart card solutions, today announces that it has been selected to supply contactless smart card technology for the "Biodev" project, an initiative spearheaded by an ad-hoc grouping of European Member States for enhanced border control of immigrant visa holders inside the Schengen1 area. Within this project, Gemplus is working closely with Sagem, who is the prime contractor.

In this first phase of the "Biodev" project, Gemplus has delivered smart cards based on "GemBorder2" , its ICAO-compliant contactless chip technology for electronic passports and visas. The cards contain a built-in smart chip-antenna to be used for contactless authentication of biometrics data. GemBorder contains biometric information about the immigrant visa-holder, such as fingerprint details and facial features. The visa-holder is then authenticated against the information stored on the chip at immigration checkpoints. The card itself is carried in a cardholder pocket placed inside the passport books. The chip can also be delivered in the form-factor of an e-visa sticker placed inside the passport.

"It was critical for us to work with a vendor like Gemplus, whose technology not only strictly complies with the industry standards for electronic visa and passport applications, but also offers superior levels of performance and security", said Jean-Paul Jainsky, Sagem. "Gemplus and Sagem have experienced a long and successful partnership in the identity market, and with the Biodev project we are together entering a market space where the need for strong and reliable security is imperative to enhance European border control processes."

"The launch of the Biodev project demonstrates the French and other EU Governments' willingness to use the strong authentication enabled by smart card technology and biometrics", said Jacques Seneca, Executive Vice President of Gemplus' ID & Security Business Division. "Contactless smart card technology is today the preferred technology for border control applications, and is available through multiple form-factors including ID card, passport page inlay, and sticker labels. Not only will it help European Governments to gain reliable control of who is entering countries in the Schengen area, but it also creates convenience advantages for visa-holders through faster and more efficient security checks at airports."

Initially the project will be tested at the airports of Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle, Paris Orly, Marseille, and Lyon in France, the Brussels airport in Belgium, and the port in Marseille, France. It involves French Consulates in 3 different countries for smart card-based Schengen visa issuance, with plans to eventually extend it to other countries.

1. The Schengen treaty was first signed in 1985 between seven European countries to end internal border checkpoints and controls. More countries have joined over the past years. At present, there are 15 Schengen countries, all in Europe. These countries are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

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