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November 15, 2005 02:01 ET

Axalto and Zetes to Deliver More Than Two Million Electronic Identity Cards for Belgian Citizens by Year End

VILLEPINTE, France--(CCNMatthews - Nov 15, 2005) -

Axalto and System Integrator Zetes Keep up Fast Pace of Europe's Largest National eID Program

Cartes 2005 Congress: Axalto (EURONEXT:AXL) and (EURONEXT:NL0000400653), the world's leader in microprocessor cards, and system integrator Zetes, today announced the delivery of more than two million electronic identity cards for the Belgian Personal Identity Card (BelPIC) program by the end of this year. Initiated in 2003, the BelPIC roll out started a year ago and is expected to reach 11 million cards by 2009.

This smart card, the size of a credit card, is now the official ID document for Belgian citizens. It gives Belgian citizens simpler, faster and more secure access to e-government services such as tax returns, changes of address, obtaining civil records/birth certificates, declaring household employees. In the future, the card will also enable electronic voting. Every cardholder has a secret pin code to authenticate himself/herself, and the card generates a legally binding electronic signature for secure declarations and administrative procedures. The card can be used with a card reader connected to a PC - for example in people's homes - in public kiosks installed in towns, in local authority buildings and in other institutions.

Selected by Zetes at the very beginning of the project, Axalto has been providing its ICitizen, Java-based technology for the operating system, ID and digital signature applications and modules for national electronic cards, the first cards in Europe being distributed to an entire population. Zetes, a Belgian group specializing in integrated solutions for the automatic identification of property and personal authentication, was chosen by the Belgian government to handle the coordination and physical integration of cards, as well as their customization and distribution to the municipalities.

"As the first of its kind and the largest e-ID scheme today in Europe, the BelPIC program remains a key public sector reference throughout the world and Axalto is proud to be involved in such a pioneer initiative," says Olivier Piou, chief executive officer, Axalto. "e-ID programs involve two main challenges: the first one is obviously to meet legitimate security requirements from customers, and the second one is to be able to combine high quality products and high volumes delivery to meet the government's schedule, and that is what we have been dedicated to."

Alain Wirtz, chief executing officer, Zetes, comments: "Axalto's state-of-the-art technology combined with industrial excellence in high volumes and timely deliveries has allowed the project to become a reality in a record time. Axalto was able to match up the ambitious roadmap requested by the Belgian government".

Denis Van Melsen, director of the e-ID program at the National Register, adds: "It is currently in our projects to leverage on the security and convenience of a personal device such as the Belgian Personal Identity Card, and extend the card based applications. Actually, the Belgian government started implementing a specific application targeted to 12 to 15 year olds chatting over the Internet: called "Safer Chat", this application will enable young people to authenticate themselves on the Internet to make sure teenagers chat with teenagers. This new application on the BelPIC card will contribute to make Internet safer for our children".

About Axalto

Axalto (EURONEXT:AXL) and (EURONEXT:NL0000400653) is the world's leading provider of microprocessor cards (Gartner 2005, Frost & Sullivan 2004) -- the key to digital networks -- and a major supplier of point-of-sale terminals. Its 4500 employees come from over 65 nationalities and serve customers in more than 100 countries, with worldwide sales exceeding 3 billion smart cards to date. The company has 25 years' experience in smart card innovation and leads its industry in security technology and open systems.

Axalto continuously creates new generations of products for use in a variety of applications in the telecommunications, finance, retail, transport, entertainment, healthcare, personal identification, information technology and public sector markets. Microprocessor cards provide convenience, security and privacy to public and private services operators, their customers and end users.

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