Smart Cards: Groupe Bull Chip Division Raises Its Profile

By Souccar, Miriam Kreinin | American Banker, July 28, 1999 | Go to article overview

Smart Cards: Groupe Bull Chip Division Raises Its Profile


Souccar, Miriam Kreinin, American Banker


Smart cards might get lost in the vast computer enterprise that is Groupe Bull of France, but company officials say that may be to its great advantage.

The division that focuses on chip card systems, Bull Smart Cards and Terminals, brings in less than 5% of the corporate revenue. With the anticipated takeoff of smart cards as identification and security devices in information technology, the smart cards and terminals unit is gaining prominence inside and outside the company.

"We are the only smart card company inside an IT (information technology) company," said David Levy, president of the division. "The future of the card is IT, so if you're not an IT company you can only produce a commodity."

Bull is a pioneer of smart cards, dating from their invention and early patents, some of which Bull owns, in the 1970s. Mr. Levy, 39, personifies how the company is taking the chip card business more seriously than ever.

Hired away from rival Gemplus Group in March 1998, Mr. Levy has been intent on bringing a new focus to Bull and beefing up its marketing.

Most notable is Bull's relatively recent emphasis on GSM, the Global System for Mobile communications standard that rules the European cellular telephone market and is trickling into North America.

Since Mr. Levy's arrival, Bull has invested significantly in the GSM market, which it views as a more immediate and stable prospect than banking and financial services.

"GSM is really more a recurring business," Mr. Levy said. "This is why to avoid the bumps in the revenue we have to work in it."

Last February, Bull, which is based in Louveciennes, France, announced the first fruits of its labor: a GSM SIM card-SIM stands for subscriber identification module, which authenticates the phone's user-based on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java technology.

The card, SIM Rock n'Tree, was tested in a two-slot mobile telephone, which many in the industry say is the future of telephony, smart cards, and even banking.

The card breaks new ground with 32K of memory, which allows many applications to reside on the card, often downloaded via the Internet or other communications lines. "What was a commodity before (has evolved into) what is really part of an IT system," Mr. Levy said.

In a recent demonstration Bull loaded cash onto the card electronically through a mobile phone, using the Proton system.

Bull says it is proud that it develops only microprocessor cards, not the less complex memory cards that make up large parts of shipments by competitors Gemplus and Schlumberger, primarily for pay telephones.

"Because GSM is growing so fast, people are using public phones less and less," said Jerome Janin, vice president of marketing for Bull Smart Cards and Terminals. "Therefore, the memory card market will drop dramatically."

Bull, however, was not the only one, or the first, to notice opportunity in the GSM market.

Gemplus is already a major provider of SIM cards and has made GSM a priority for its software group. Schlumberger has come out with its own Java-based 32K card, Cyberflex SIMera 32. Orga and Giesecke & Devrient of Germany also have strong GSM businesses.

"Focusing on GSM is a necessity rather than a differentiator," said Duncan Brown, director of research for North America at Ovum Inc. in Burlington, Mass.

Bull's differentiator, according to Mr. Levy, is its background in security. He claimed that Bull's Java card is more secure than the others and said his department is working on a research document to prove it.

Like others, Bull stresses its ability to provide "complete smart card solutions." Its smart card group works closely with the Bullsoft software department and the systems integration division.

One of Bullsoft's products, OpenMaster, is used by Microsoft Corp. to manage its Hotmail system. Access management systems such as this are a perfect fit for smart cards, which increase security and ease user difficulties, for instance, by memorizing a slew of access passwords, Mr. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Smart Cards: Groupe Bull Chip Division Raises Its Profile
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.