Gemplus scores another world’s first in mobile banking Smart card leader brings two banks and two network operators together on one mobile banking project

Gemplus, the world’s leader in smart card-based solutions scored another world’s first in the mobile banking arena. Where past mobile banking projects included one bank and one network operator only, this project sees Gemplus using its leading edge technology, managing a mobile banking project in association with major players in Hong Kong’s banking and telecom industries.

The mobile phone is increasingly being recognised by banks in Asia as a cost effective channel to deliver banking and trading services. In Asia’s technologically more advanced countries mobile phone, market penetration is above 40 percent and accessing customers through this unique and highly personal communication tool is proving successful. Mobile phone transactions are carried out every day, opening huge direct marketing opportunities for banks.

In early 1999, HSBC and Hang Seng Bank selected two carriers Cable & Wireless HKT and Hutchison Telecommunications to offer their respective customer base in Hong Kong a choice for a mobile banking service. This decision represents a breakthrough as it shows clearly that opportunities can be explored through multiple carriers.

This project marks a milestone for the smart card industry where multiple parties are involved in issuing a single SIM card containing confidential information and service features of distinctive banks and GSM operators. The same single SIM card also allows the service to operate in bilingual mode, providing comprehensive English and Chinese user interface.

"Gemplus’ smart card technology is changing the way services are being delivered to customers who are always on the move. The intelligent SIM card is able to transform any mobile phone into a user-friendly tool. It makes possible complex transactions with demanding user interfaces such as mobile banking. Gemplus is the active agent in changing role the mobile phone from being a strictly voice tool to being a new delivery channel," said Mr Philippe Vallee, Executive Vice President, Gemplus Asia Pacific.

The most important technological and marketing breakthrough in this project is the way services are displayed to the end-user. "People in Hong Kong are familiar with ATM, Information kiosks and Internet user interface, and this is something we have integrated from the beginning with both banks and network operators in order to make this multi-application as user friendly as possible. This project which involves major players is strategic for Gemplus as it represents millions of potential users learning how to better use their mobile phone and realising the huge capability of the SIM card," added Philippe.

Mr Goh Say-Yeow, Country Manager for Gemplus Hong Kong, added, "The multi-vendor feature of this project is the world’s first. This is also an indication of future value added services that will see vendors complementing each other’s strengths. The fact that HSBC, Hang Seng Bank, C&W HKT and Hutchison Telecommunications coming together on this project speaks volumes about the level of their understanding of what their customers want."

"Gemplus deployed its 32K SIM cards based on its GemXplore™ 98 operating system in this project. This operating system has been selected by 12 GSM carriers and eight major banking institutions across Asia Pacific to support advanced SIM Toolkit applications. Gemplus GemXplore 98 on 32K has been selected by HSBC, Hang Seng Bank, Cable & Wireless HKT and Hutchison Telecommunications for its unique capability to manage and encapsulate complex STK program and support a bilingual user interface mode. It sets an unprecedented benchmark for the wireless communication market.

After developing its first mobile banking STK application in 1997, Gemplus has carved for itself a unique position and expertise on STK projects, leading this field both in Europe and Asia. Gemplus estimates that more than 50 new STK applications will be launched commercially this year in Asia Pacific region with Gemplus leading and managing half of them.

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