Asia Express - East Asian ICT
Mobile Communications- Gemplus Opens Tianjin Smartcard Plant
November 23, 2004
Aiming to take advantage of market growth in China, smart card maker Gemplus International recently announced the opening of a Tianjin production facility. The new plant is a joint venture between the French company, the world's largest smart card maker, and the China Putian Group.


A primary motivation behind the opening of the new factory is the upcoming launch of 3G in China and other markets. Production at the new factory will mostly concentrate on smart cards for mobile phones based on the GSM (Global-System-for-Mobile-Communications) and CDMA (Code-Division-Multiple-Access) standards, as well as smart cards for fixed-line phones, PAS (Personal-Access-System) phones, and 3G phones. Gemplus provided smart cards for the 3G standards field tests being conducted by the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry.


Gemplus is estimated to control about 30% of the telecom smart card market in China, and it was the first to provide SIM (Subscriber-Identity-Module) cards in the country. However, its previous production facility was rented from a local industrial park. The new 50,000 square-meter plant is wholly owned by Gemplus, a move that many have interpreted as a signal of its long-term commitment to remain in the China market. 


No figures were available on the exact cost of constructing the new factory, but it is believed to constitute a large portion of the company's capital investments for the year. The previous plant had an annual production capacity of 150 million cards. The new facility will initially produce around 200 million cards a year, with additional resources to be added as market demand increases.