Gemalto CEO: Digital Societies Change Lives
As CEO of Gemalto, Oliver Piou oversees a company of more than 10,000 employees active in 190 countries around the world. His company enables clients such as banks, Telcos, retailers and others around the world to feel secure transmitting data in the rapidly changing payments industry, and to become part of a “digital society” that’s growing worldwide.
So how does Piou define such a move towards the digital realm?
“Digital society, in my mind, means simply that our world is getting more and more connected, more and more digital, more and more wireless, and I think this is only the beginning.”
Market Platform Dynamics CEO Karen Webster spoke with Piou to discuss his thoughts on a digital society, NFC payments, the U.S.’ looming EMV migration and more, as well as Gemalto’s plans for 2013 and beyond.
Piou first explained that as the world becomes increasingly mobile, a digital security company such as Gemalto is of major significance. But Piou said that one of the real benefits of a digital society is not the change it brings to the payments industry, but the real and tangible impact it can have on so many peoples’ lives.
“They can sometimes change the lives of people, and there are many examples that jump to my mind, but to give you just two: I think about how mobile money has changed the lives of people in Africa by enabling them to simply save money to educate their children. Instead of gambling the cash they had in hand, they put that money safely in a mobile phone,” Piou explained.
“Or in a much different place, like Sweden, electronic passwords can be issued in a matter of a few hours: it is a big change when dealing with public administration.”
Webster also asked Piou about his views on mobile wallets and which technology he thought would prevail. He noted that Gemalto is equipped to protect transactions made by multiple means, highlighting some of his company’s new cloud protection offerings, but predicted that in the long run, the major technology used for mobile transactions will be NFC.
“We tend to believe that hardware credentials on the mobile devices is a trend that will prevail in the long term, because we’ve seen so many experiences involving NFC, “he said. “We don’t really care if it’s QR code or bar code or NFC, but the proof of the popularity with NFC … it’s simple broadly adopted and conveniently judged by consumers in Europe and Asia.”
To support his prediction, Piou cited some consumer NFC satisfaction surveys with impressive results. Piou said that the lowest percentage of satisfied customers in one study was 92 percent, while the highest saw 98 percent satisfaction rate: numbers that are “virtually unheard of” for a new technology.
It’s that customer satisfaction – plus the ease of use that comes with NFC – that drive Piou to forecast its dominance in the future.
“NFC capabilities will soon become ubiquitous in the same way that all mobile phones have a built-in camera,” Piou said, “because it’s so cheap and easy to use.”
While such results generally come from European and Asian NFC users, Piou said the U.S. NFC market is promising as well. He noted that around 25 percent of all the payments cards in the world today are already contactless capable, and claimed that the technology was well understood.
That being said, Piou acknowledged that the U.S. marketplace represents a whole different ballgame, and said the key to NFC adoption will be understanding those differences.
“What will be different in the U.S. is that the segmentation and the packaging of those wallet will be very consumer-centric, where as in the rest of the world it’s very issuer-centric,” Piou said.
“In the U.S. you may have a wallet very much driven by the shopping experience, by marketing knowledge from an institution that is extremely good. And this is where a big difference can be made.”
To hear more Piou and Webster on NFC, the U.S.’ EMV migration timeline and Gematlo’s plans for 2013, listen to the full podcast below.
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CEO of Gemalto
Olivier Piou has been CEO of Gemalto since its creation in 2006. He was previously CEO of Axalto, from 2004 to 2006. In 2004 he successfully introduced Axalto, at that time a division of Schlumberger Limited, to the stock market through an IPO, and in 2006 conducted the merger of Gemplus and Axalto which formed Gemalto. He graduated in Engineering from the Ecole Centrale de Lyon, in 1980, joined Schlumberger in 1981, and held numerous positions across technology, marketing and operations in France and in the United States until 2004. He has been in charge of the smart cards business since 1998. Olivier Piou is a member of the board of directors of Gemalto, and also a member of the board of directors of Alcatel-Lucent. From 2003 to 2010, he was a member of the Board of directors of INRIA, the French national institute for research in computer science and control. From 2004 to 2006, Mr. Piou was a member of the board of directors of Axalto, and from 2003 to 2006 was President of Eurosmart, the international non-profit association based in Brussels, which represents the chip card industry. Mr. Piou is a knight of the Legion of Honor in France.