Gemalto Acquires U.S. Units to Cater to Banks With Chip-And-Pin

Gemalto NV, a developer of software and chips that make transactions more secure, has acquired two U.S.-based units of Cardiff Holdings that customize payment cards for local financial institutions.

Gemalto predicts the transaction will help it cater to local needs as it looks to woo banks in the U.S. as they switch to “chip-and-pin” cards from magnetic stripes, according to a statement today. The transaction is valued at about $50 million, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named discussing the terms of the deal. Gemalto didn’t disclose the terms in the statement.

“Many issuers in the U.S. are now accelerating their own migration in light of the recent security breaches that have occurred with major retailers,” Gemalto, based in Amsterdam, said in the release. It estimates 1.6 billion units of chip-based payment cards are already used around the world.

Target Corp.’s data breach last December made Gemalto’s Chief Executive Officer Olivier Piou, a 55-year-old Frenchman, more popular than ever with U.S. executives. Piou said last week, in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York, that he’s spent 60 percent of his time in the U.S. since the incident -- four times more than usual -- meeting with CEOs and lead directors who are worried about repeating Target’s mistake.

Under Piou, since 2006, Gemalto has shifted away from commoditized chips to sell more lucrative packages including security software. Its clients include phone carriers, banks and companies such as Volkswagen AG’s Audi division and Facebook Inc. The company forecasts that new segments like contactless mobile payments and machine-to-machine communications will boost its sales, as well as the rollout of chip-based bank cards in the U.S.