Jochi Fuchs VP of Business Development, Athena Smartcard Solutions
(Photo by Athena Smartcard Solutions)
By Sunny Kim
Please introduce your company and update our readers on your latest, breakthrough product.
Athena is a Japanese corporation holding subsidiaries in the U.S.A., the U.K. and Israel. We are a global player in the smart card industry. Athena offers complete solutions for the government and enterprise ID, ePassport as well as for the payment cards market.
Our product line includes all required components, from readers (from desktop, to keyboards, biometric, contactless, motorized and more), to smart card OS (Java & Native), PKI middleware, biometric Match on Card, and the card life cycle, personalization and management system. All our products are developed in house and as such we are able to offer the best technical-support level with most competitive prices. Our cards are available in contact, contactless, dual interface and hybrid as well as token form factor. Our middleware is offering total cross platform operation. Our products are FIPS and Common Criteria certified.
How do you anticipate the smart card industry in five years time?
The industry is now mature and the market is a demand market. Over 40 countries are issuing or in the process of acquiring electronic passports and chip ID cards. This is pushing the industry to develop new production methods for high volume contactless products. This is also driving the industry into new smart card related applications to be used with smart ID cards.
What in your opinion are some of the key technology trends in the smart card industry? What are Athena smart card solutions doing in this regard?
NFC is expected to be a major technology segment and mobile applications for payment and ID will be available for every user at acceptable price levels. Athena is offering products in all these segments.
In what areas are you focusing on your product development efforts?
We are presently concentrating on contactless products, both readers and cards, at acceptable prices for the ID industry. We are enhancing our Java OS to the highest performance in the contactless market. We are striving to offer the smart card user a similar experience to what they are used to in everyday and offer an easy transition from a smart card-less environment to smart card world enjoying all the benefits available.
What do you see your clients most worried about?
Clients are first of all very price conscious, but eventually they understand that there is a tradeoff between price and quality. If they want the latest technology with the best performance they are usually ready to pay a justified price. Another importance is technical support, we see many clients come to us after being let down by other suppliers. Our advantage is that the technical support is offered by the actual R&D team, who knows the products inside out and are able to provide the best solutions in the shortest time without having to be dependent on other sources of information. Another important issue is security. Customers are very concerned about the security level being offered using smart cards and product certification is therefore an important issue. Further, customers are very concerned about 3rd party products integration when starting to use smart cards and Athena is known for the best 3rd party applications support.
Please introduce your current sales network around the world.
Athena has its own sales offices in the U.S.A., the U.K. and Israel. We also have an extensive network of distributors in all major market enabling us to be on location for any demand.
I would like to add that all our software products are multilingual and can be easily localized in any language.
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