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Gemplus and Welcome Real-Time Team Up to Develop Payment and Loyalty Market for Multi-Function Smart Cards.

AIX EN PROVENCE, France--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 6, 1999--

100 Million Smart Payment Cards to be Branded by 2002

Smart card-based solutions provider, Gemplus SCA, and loyalty software provider, Welcome Real-time SA, have entered into an alliance to launch a market development program to accelerate the worldwide adoption of multi-function payment and loyalty cards, the two companies announced today.

"Gemplus and Welcome Real-time bring special skills and experience to this market," said Sami Baghdadi, Vice-President Electronic Business of Gemplus. "Welcome Real-time provides software giving card issuers a unique marketing strategy to help early adopters secure lasting differentiation and a sustainable competitive advantage. Gemplus, through its market position, experience and worldwide presence, is ideally placed to help card issuers move quickly and fully leverage the opportunities now provided by smart payment cards."

Magnetic stripe credit cards, linked to a loyalty function like airline mileage programs, have long been a profitable segment for banks and financial institutions. Card issuers seeking to further differentiate their products now expect smart cards to open new markets, currently dominated by cash and checks, where merchants tend to use frequent customer cards that are punched or stamped at each visit. A single smart payment card can replace dozens of paper punch cards, creating a whole new market for card issuers that will prove to be even larger and more mainstream than private store cards and co-branded cards.

Gemplus is a key player in the loyalty & retail market with a 70 percent market share worldwide in smart card-based loyalty programs. The company supports all major smart card standards, and provides smart cards designed to function with all major credit, debit and e-purse payment applications. The company's smart cards are also the ideal medium to securely combine payment and loyalty functions with other applications.

Gemplus smart payment cards provide off-line processing capabilities that allow bank cards to be processed instantly at the point of sale, without systematically requiring an on line request for authorization. Off-line processing means smart credit cards can now be used in retail sectors that don't currently accept plastic cards, such as fast food restaurants, movie theaters and convenience stores.

Welcome Real-time's XLS (eXtended Loyalty System) allows the card to store and process the electronic equivalent of punch cards, paper loyalty cards used by sandwich shops and other small retailers to encourage repeat visits. "Welcome Real-time's system makes the bank or financial institution issuing the card more competitive by adding value to the card and getting customers to use their card more often - to use their card in preference to other cards in the customer's wallet," said Aneace Haddad, President and CEO of Welcome Real-time. "It makes the card attractive to consumers, allowing them to get rid of the paper bonus cards stacking up in the kitchen or making their wallets fat. And it gives retailers a competitive reason to invest in smart card readers by drawing customers back using a reliable, automated loyalty program."

XLS offers the opportunity to create large-scale acceptance brands for merchant loyalty, allowing customers to know which merchants offer rewards, and merchants to know which payment cards can participate in their e-punch card loyalty program. Card issuers that participate in launching an acceptance brand in their region will be well positioned to secure long-term exclusive relationships with major retail chains, quick service restaurants and service providers, thereby locking in key portions of the market.

Added Haddad: "We see the Gemplus partnership as a powerful asset in establishing key relationships with major card issuers in each region to help them launch common acceptance brands for merchant loyalty. We encourage card issuers to move fast as early adopters will benefit far more than late adopters will. Today, we are already well on our way to developing strategic alliances with major card issuers to brand 100 million smart payment cards by 2002."

Said Gemplus' Baghdadi: "Welcome Real-time's sophisticated and easy-to-implement software will help Gemplus achieve our goal of extending the use of credit, debit and e-purse cards into retail sectors dominated by cash and checks. We are convinced that payment combined with merchant loyalty is the winning strategy. The banking and retail industries have been searching for a clear, simple business case for smart cards. Payment linked to merchant loyalty delivers that business case. This is the key to the mass deployment of smart cards."

About Gemplus

Gemplus S.C.A. (www.gemplus.com) is the world's leading provider of plastic and smart card-based solutions with 37 % market share (by units sold, source: Dataquest 1998). Gemplus sells magnetic stripe cards, memory and microprocessor-based smart cards, smart contactless cards, electronic tags and smart objects. The company designs and markets software, development tools and readers. Gemplus also provides consulting, training and personalization services to deliver the industry*s most comprehensive and flexible card-based solutions to its developers, distributors, partners, and customers.

With sales of over $US648 million in 1998, Gemplus employs more than 4,300 people in 10 manufacturing facilities, 5 R&D centers and 41 sales and marketing offices located in 27 countries around the world. Founded in 1988, Gemplus has successfully implemented portable and secure smart card-based solutions to simplify applications such as public and wireless communications, financial transactions, loyalty, transportation, education, healthcare, identity, physical access control, pay TV, electronic commerce, Internet security, logical access control and information technology.

About Welcome Real-time

Welcome Real-time creates loyalty software for multi-application smart cards issued by banks and other financial institutions. The core product, the eXtended Loyalty System (XLS), helps merchants to understand and better communicate with their customers, and to deliver real-time rewards to consumers at the point-of-purchase. The company's technological leadership is recognized worldwide, thanks to such patented innovations as Real-time RFM and the novel use of Internet to carry transaction data from the point of sale terminal to the central server.

Welcome Real-time is headquartered in Aix-en-Provence, France. The company's management includes smart card marketing pioneers who have been running electronic cash programs since 1987 and who launched smart card based electronic couponing applications as early as 1993. Welcome Real-time is a charter member of VISA USA's workgroup integrating loyalty and payment onto one card and a member of the MULTOS supplier network. Welcome Real-time also supports Microsoft's recently announced Smart Cards for Windows. For more information, visit the company's website at: www.welcome-rt.com.

(c) 1999 Gemplus. Gemplus is a registered trademark. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. XLS(R) and Real-time RFM(R) are trademarks of Welcome Real-time.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jul 6, 1999
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