U.S. Wises Up To Smart Cards

Europe's information-packed plastic is crossing the pond

Until recently, workers in the hillside headquarters of Gemplus in Gemenos, France, were about as relaxed as the sunbathers on the Mediterranean beach down below. Gemplus is the world's No. 1 maker of smart cards, the pocket plastic with an embedded chip that stores reams of financial and other information. But for 25 years, the smart-card industry remained pretty much a European thing. Not any more. Research firm Dataquest predicts world sales will climb from $2.4 billion this year to $8.1 billion by 2004. And much of that growth will come from the laggard U.S. market.

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