Billions of people worldwide increasingly want the freedom to communicate, travel, shop, bank, entertain, and work anytime and anywhere, in ways that are convenient, enjoyable and secure.

Gemalto, the international digital security company, is meeting the demands of our evolving digital society by providing secure software, a wide range of secure personal devices, and managed services to wireless operators, banks, enterprises and government agencies and has definitely caught the attention of Asian e-Marketing.

I interviewed Saurabh Ohri, Gemalto’s Mobile Marketing Manager, Solutions and Services for Asia to give you some insights into the company’s business and success.

Unique value propositions

Gemalto is the world’s leading supplier of SIM and UICC cards, as well as client-server software and services. According to Ohri, his company is helping more than 450 network operators worldwide to achieve more from their platforms and solutions, building loyalty and boosting revenue per user to developing convergence and mobile TV services. He claims that: “Gemalto is the number one supplier of secure, durable and long-lasting Machine Identification Modules (MIM) for machine to machine connectivity for a broad range of industries such as health care, metering, security, tracking and tracing, payment, remote maintenance and control, automotive and mobile computing. More importantly, Gemalto is able to deploy end-to-end converging solutions between telecommunications, financial and retail businesses”.

He adds: “In the security industry, Gemalto stands out as the leading provider for electronic passports and identity cards, two-factor authentication devices for online protection, smart credit/debit and contactless payment cards. To operate these solutions and remotely manage the software and confidential data contained in the secure devices, Gemalto also provides consulting services, software and solutions to help our customers achieve their goals.”

Prediction for the future when it comes to mobile security

Ohri knows that Asia is a unique region for the mobile industry as players get to experience a diversity of regions in terms of customer segmentation. Due to the emerging business scenario, the Asian ecosystem enables big players to experiment with various business strategies depending where in the region, exemplifying this for instance: “Singapore, Korea and Japan have high penetration rates for smartphones and mobile data, on the other hand the Philippines is the SMS capital of the world.”

He continues: “If you talk about the subscriber numbers, out of 5.2 billion mobile phone users across the world almost 2.3 billion are accounted for in Asia. Network operators are continuously looking for new ideas to increase the average revenue per user (ARPU). Looking from the perspective of operator revenue numbers, China Mobile stands as the number two player in the world after Vodafone. In the coming years, I see the industry working towards rolling out new technologies such as LTE, Mobile Money, etc. and a business model of increasingly non-capex based investments.”

“Mobile security is becoming an increasingly important area of focus for the industry players, other value chain partners and end users. Security can have multiple aspects: securing data on the mobile, securing the device from hackers and securing the transactions enabled by the mobile. With more and more user cases that focus on financial transactions, security is the first challenge to overcome in order to convince the banks and retailers to jump on the bandwagon”, states Saurabh. Banking transactions utilizing One Time Password for verification are now being replaced by mobile digital IDs, thanks to Gemalto’s mobile signature solution and with the advent of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology in Asia, security is key in preparing the ecosystem for the handling of bill payments, etc.

Key trends in Asian mobile communications

Saurabh OhriAccording to Ohri, Mobile Money would have a big impact in the mobile communications market with more banks and retailers already on board to support the operator’s mobile wallet initiative. This service is key for markets that see many remittances or where retailers are ready to adopt the mobile wallet platform from operators to support their transactions.

Mobile Marketing would be another topic of deep interest for Asia as it commands almost 50% of all the mobile phones in the world. While SMS marketing makes up the majority of dollars spent, mobile web and banner advertising are also gaining traction.

In addition to this, brands are also experimenting with some innovative methods such as location-based advertising, augmented reality, QR codes and in-app advertising. With a high degree of interactivity offered by mobile marketing, brands can ensure that consumers are not merely viewing advertisements but also assimilating the marketing message.

“Asia is advanced in terms of testing different mobile marketing formats. In addition, Asia is at the forefront for permission-based marketing, with the Maxis, Globe and Aircel programs notably”, Gemalto’s spokesperson explains.

Threats that could abate the current momentum of mobile proliferation

“Governments needs to play a pivotal role to ensure telecom regulations favour the growth of the industry”, Saurabh believes, while this growth can be hampered if very stringent regulations are imposed on importing technology, pricing and 3G license auctioning, etc.

For mobile operators the threat they face is declining ARPUs from their customer base and hence profitability. This can sometimes discourage them from investing in infrastructure upgrades or introducing new services to the market.

Consumers, nevertheless, will definitely always be hungry for well-designed and adapted mobile value-added services (VAS) according to the market. Therefore, VAS will be the key for mobile operators to boost ARPU, with a key focus on services such as entertainment, education, social networking and even health. Data services provide consumers with an additional channel to access content like streaming videos and gaming.

What the future will bring …

Formed in June 2006 by the merger of Axalto and Gemplus International, Gemalto specializes in personal devices such as SIMs in mobile phones, smart bankcards, e-passports, identity credentials and USB tokens that resulted in total revenue of €1.91 billion for Gemalto in 2010 alone.

Olivier Piou, Gemalto Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Gemalto recorded another quarter of solid revenue expansion, in line with its expectations. Secure Transactions continued to outperform, as chip-and-PIN and high-end contactless payment solutions deploy worldwide. Near Field Communication mobile payment generates considerable interest and our current investments have already led to key service contract wins. Together with a record level of bookings in security, this reinforces our strategic positioning and long-term growth prospects.”

Indeed, in 2011 Gemalto targets another year of expansion in revenue and profit from its ongoing operations, progressing in its 2010-2013 development plan. The company expects a substantially lower contribution from patent licensing activities in 2011, stable or expanding profits in Mobile Communication, with a pronounced seasonality due to the large deployments of NFC mobile contactless services and LTE fourth generation networks announced for the latter part of the year; and they reiterate their expectation to have Secure Transactions delivering a high single-digit profit margin from operations in 2011.

By Daniela La Marca