Remy de Tonnac, president of Gemplus Group's Asia-Pacific region for six years, has been appointed president of Gemplus Americas, based in Redwood City, Calif.
Mr. de Tonnac is succeeding Dominique Trempont, who is leaving the French smart card company to "pursue a new business opportunity in the Silicon Valley area," the company said.
Mr. Trempont, who will remain with the company in a part-time advisory role during the management transition, was not available to comment.
A new president for the Asia-Pacific office has been chosen, but Gemplus has not released the person's name.
Until Sept. 1, Mr. de Tonnac intends to split his time between his current, Singapore-based operation and the California office that is headquarters for North and South America.
During his two years as regional chief executive officer, Mr. Trempont was credited with building a strong management team and laying a foundation for the long-expected takeoff of smart card technology in the United States.
Mr. de Tonnac said he has no plan to change senior management, which has a heavy Silicon Valley representation in keeping with Gemplus' stated desire to develop an American-style, high-tech culture. Mr. Trempont, for example, previously worked at Next Software, a venture started by Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs.
"There will be absolutely no change of strategy either from the Gemplus CEO (Daniel Le Gal) or myself," Mr. de Tonnac said in a telephone interview.
Mr. Le Gal called Mr. Trempont "a significant contributor to Gemplus" and said, "we wish him well as he moves to this new opportunity."
"I am a newcomer to both North and South America," Mr. de Tonnac said, "so knowing that the operation is running well, I don't want to rock the boat."
Mr. de Tonnac, 40, headed Gemplus Asia Pacific for six years. On his watch, Gemplus grew to command more than 50% of the region's smart card market share.
He expects his new post to be more challenging, in that North America lags Europe and Asia in smart card adoption-though Asia's economic woes caused a setback last year. Gemplus, whose revenue grew 11% in 1998, to $648 million, had a flat year in Asia.
Also challenging is the fact that the information technology, or IT, industry, which Mr. de Tonnac and many others expect to drive smart card use in North America for security-related purposes, is rapidly changing the nature of the chip card industry.
"A lot of the technology development that will change the smart card picture is happening at the moment and will restructure the business model of the industry in terms of transactions, e-commerce, the Internet, and IT," he said.
Mr. de Tonnac said he expects IT and electronic commerce to be the triggers for widespread smart card use. He estimated the timing at one to one-and-a-half years.
Electronic commerce is "happening at a speed that is even faster than what was expected," Mr. de Tonnac said. "Already the security problem is becoming a real concern, and there is no better way to solve it than utilizing a smart card."
Mr. de Tonnac joined Gemplus as marketing manager when it was founded in 1988. After two years he became sales director of Gemplus in France. That country then accounted for 60% of the company's revenues. He moved to the Asia-Pacific helm in 1992.
He worked at STMicroelectronics from 1984 to 1988.
Mr. Le Gal said, "We believe the powerful combination of (Mr. de Tonnac's) expertise, the company's increasing investment in the region, and the experience of the Americas management team positions the company well to take advantage of the growth opportunities that exist in both North and Latin America."
BRUSSELS-Proton World International said it has certified Gemplus' GemProton product line for use in Proton programs around the world.
GemProton complies with the Proton R3.1 electronic purse specification as well as International Organization for Standardization, EMV (Eurocard- MasterCard Visa), and Visa Easy Entry standards, the companies said. GemProton has also passed tests of six independent security laboratories in four countries.
The tailored Proton product range "is concrete proof of the commitment of Gemplus to the banking sector in general and to the banks that have chosen Proton technology in particular," said Daniel Le Gal, the president and chief executive officer of Gemplus, which is based in Gemenos, France. "We are confident that both current and future Proton-based smart card issuers will be attracted to the open, flexible, and highly secure nature of GemProton."