Gemalto was formed in June 2006 through the combination of Axalto Holding N.V. and Gemplus International S.A..
Axalto was an IPO spin-off of Schlumberger in 2004. Schlumberger began its chip card activities in February 1979 when it licensed and marketed certain chip card technologies developed and patented by Roland Moreno, who is generally credited with the invention of the chip card. Schlumberger developed the first telephone chip cards for France Telecom and the Swedish telecommunications operator Telia in the early 1980s. The company developed ties with telecommunications operators around the world and, as a result, played a role in industry-wide efforts to develop new digital mobile communication standards, particularly the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) system. Schlumberger designed its first SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card in the early 1990s for the launch of GSM in Europe, and this led to the use of microprocessor card technology as an access and security solution for mobile telephony worldwide. By the end of 2012 SIMs had been installed in over 3 billion handsets; more than 5 billion SIMs were sold during the year.
In the early 1980s, the French banking sector decided to migrate from the magnetic stripe card-based payment system to a more secure microprocessor card-based system. The Company received its first contract in June 1981 to provide GIE Cartes Bancaires, the French credit/debit card issuers' association, with 5,000 microprocessor cards and 200 associated point-of-sale terminals. The microprocessor card-based payment system subsequently became standard in France and eventually led to a global standard known as EMV, set up by Europay, MasterCard and Visa. Today there are over 1 billion EMV cards in circulation.
Since the launch of its chip card operations in the early 1980s, Schlumberger experienced strong internal and external growth both in terms of revenue and product portfolio, particularly with the substantial growth in GSM-based mobile telecommunications. Initially, Schlumberger's card and POS terminal activities were managed by several subsidiaries and joint ventures. In 2003, Schlumberger created Axalto as a division to consolidate these into one company. Axalto was successfully listed on Euronext Paris market on 18 May 2004.
Gemplus started its operations in 1988 as a supplier of prepaid phonecards
and subsequently developed ties with the telecommunications industry
similarly to Schlumberger. The business was initially conducted through
Gemplus S.C.A., a French limited partnership. In 1999, Gemplus Associates,
the general partner of Gemplus S.C.A., merged into Gemplus S.C.A., which
became a joint stock company, Gemplus S.A. In February 2000, the corporate
structure was reorganized and a new holding company, Gemplus International
S.A., a Luxembourg corporation, was created.
In December 2000, the company completed an initial public offering of its capital stock, in the form of ordinary shares traded on Euronext Paris, and American depository shares (ADSs) traded on the US NASDAQ exchange. In 2004, the company completed the planned reorganization of its corporate structure by transferring most of the subsidiaries of Gemplus S.A. to Gemplus International S.A.
In June 2006, Axalto and Gemplus combined to become Gemalto, with the objective of becoming a leading company in digital security. Following the combination, Axalto Holding N.V. changed its name to Gemalto N.V. Security has a key role to play in the digital revolution – a major trend bringing significant benefits to countries and citizens, in particular through the use of Internet and wireless networks. Trust and convenience are at the core of Gemalto's vision of digital security. Gemalto's mission is to make personal digital interactions secure and easy. As a result of the combination, skills and scale were assembled to serve three important sectors: mobile telecommunications, secure transactions, in particular for financial institutions and commerce, and security, in particular for administrations and networks ("cloud computing").