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Smart-card Market Sees Two Acquisitions

Assa Abloy and On Track Innovations have each bought companies promising to enhance their ability to serve the global market for smart cards.
By Andrew Price
May 18, 2006Lock maker Assa Abloy and On Track Innovations (OTI) have each purchased companies they hope will strengthen their capacity to serve the market for smart cards.

Assa Abloy's Identification Technology Group (ITG) has purchased Austrian-based contactless cards manufacturer Schwab & Partner Group (S&P), which consists of three companies: CPC, VisionCard and Schwab & Partner. The Schwab & Partner Group serves mainly the Central European mass-transit, loyalty, event-ticketing, ski-pass, hospitality and access-control markets.

Based in Innsbruck and employing 80 people, S&P delivers card design, printing and manufacturing services. The company produces cards based on a range of technologies, including magnetic-stripe and high-frequency (HF) and low-frequency (LF) RFID. It has an annual manufacturing capacity of 400 million cards a year, but is currently producing around 250 million a year. The deal will give the ability of ITG to make the smart cards it sells to its customers, according to ACG Identification Technologies, which, along with Sokymat and Omnikey, comprise ITG.

"ACG has, essentially, been buying cards from manufacturers and reselling them," says Ulrich Reutner, CEO at ACG. "This acquisition means we can make the cards in-house. We will have our own cards, as well as control over scale of production."

Meanwhile, On Track Innovations, an Israel-based developer of smart-card applications, has acquired contactless card operating systems designer InSeal Contactless. Based in Marseille, France, InSeal sells its operating system for contactless applications to a variety of customers in the payments market, including Inside Contactless, which offers the JayCOS operating system on its contactless 16-bit RISC microprocessor (MicroPass); and French smart card manufacturerAlios. According to OTI, InSeal's JayCOS is currently in use in contactless payments programs in the United States.

"InSeal is a perfect fit with the OTI product platform," says Oded Bashan, chairman, president and CEO of OTI. "The acquisition also brings additional channel partners to OTI."

The InSeal operating system runs on processors that OTI's own Hercules operating system does not, Bashan explains. OTI designs, develops and markets secure contactless microprocessor-based smart card technology to address the needs of a wide variety of markets. Applications developed by OTI include product solutions for petroleum payment systems, homeland security solutions, electronic passports and IDs, payments, mass-transit ticketing, parking, loyalty programs and secure campuses.
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