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2011-07-09 - AFP
Manufacturers ready for the arrival of e-ID

PARIS - Chip makers, e-ID readers markers, and the Imprimerie Nationale, manufacturers say they are ready for the arrival of the electronic identity card, which was voted this week by the Assembly, and which will be mainly manufactured with French components.

Bearing the credentials, the scanned picture and also the fingerprints, the card should be gradually distributed to some 60 million French in 2012 at the earliest, at the option of renewal.

Free, to the format of a credit card, the e-card has two chips.

The “State” chip which will contain the identity information of the holder: it can be read in approaching e-card to “contactless” readers installed in city halls and administrations, as the “Navigo pass” in the transport of Ile-de-France.

The second chip, optional, so-called “e-services”, will affix signatures on the internet for trade and administrative concerns. This option will need to be equipped with a specific drive, where to insert the card as payment by credit card with PIN.

Will the second player be offered by the State to the French with their new electronic identity card, as in Germany, or will people have to buy it, as in Belgium? “The issue is not settled yet” said one industry expert.

The manufacture of e-ID card will cost the State at least twelve million Euros more per year than the current cards. While these plastic cards cost 4-5 Euros each, the biometric cards will cost from 7 to 8 Euros; according to the Interior Ministry, 6.2 million new ID cards are published every year.

The Imprimerie Nationale is the sole authority in France to produce ID documents.

“We already realize electronic documents” ie electronic European residence Permits or agent cards for the French Military Police told AFP Agnes Martin, her communications director.

These documents are manufactured at its plant in Douai (Nord), a highly protected site classified as “vital importance operator” in 2010 by the authorities.

It supplies components (chips, software) from major industry leaders, the French Gemalto, Oberthur Technologies and Morpho (Safran), but also the small company Smart Packaging Solutions (SPS).

“Industrially, we are ready, we have all anticipated. When we receive the green light, we need only press the button” says Ms. Martin.

In fact, the Imprimerie Nationale (700 employees) sets the stage for some time.

It has invested in January in the SPS Company based in Aix, which makes the golden color modules engraved, similar to credit cards, which will house the “State” chips or the “e-services” chips of the future ID, and very thin antennas integrated over the entire surface of the card to communicate with the reader.

Contracts for the provision of the Imprimerie Nationale, after bidding are not yet in sight, but Gemalto believes it has “many assets to bring” in this “market potential”.

The French giant also makes readers, as the small French company Xiring, which deployed the majority of readers of “Carte Vitale”, used in France.

“We expect very strong growth” said Lawrence Master, marketing director of Xiring. “With us, everything is ready, just missing the top start”.

Autor: Alix Rijckaert
Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.