Behind the scenes of the making of the bank cards of the future


In the Thales factory in Gémenos, near Marseille, the deafening noise of machines is inversely proportional to their subtlety. Here, the mechanical arms work to the nearest micrometer on chips essential to the proper functioning of the economy: those of our bank cards. “The production workshop runs on 3/8”, explains Cyrille Mouillor, site manager, formerly owned by Gemalto before the takeover of the company by the French electronics giant. “There are three main steps: gluing, soldering and embedding, then testing.”

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© Clément Lesaffre / Europe 1

Greener and more secure cards …

But it is quiet, in the offices of Gémenos and its other site in La Ciotat, that Thales is inventing the bank cards of tomorrow, more ecological and above all more secure. Like the biometric card, for example, where the fingerprint will replace the PIN code. Or this card that speaks to you via your phone. An invention intended for visually impaired people, when 90% of them have already been the victims of a scam when paying by card.

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© Clément Lesaffre / Europe 1

“When you insert the card into the payment terminal, the merchant will type in an amount, for example 25.80 euros”, explains Ali Zeamari, biometric engineer in charge of the demonstration. “There, thanks to an application, the card will communicate the amount by voice to the telephone. The cardholder will confirm the transaction by entering his PIN code. The card then signals him that the PIN is verified and that the transaction is validated. so sure that he paid the right price and that the transaction was not canceled. “

… and dematerialized

In addition to these physical innovations, Thales is working on dematerialized bank cards, integrated into mobile phones. An increasingly widespread technology but which requires additional security measures. “We are no longer in a smart card, we are in a smartphone. So we have to work on software security elements. But the goal is the same: to protect the authentication key of your card against external attacks” , explains Philippe Vallée, director of the identity and digital security branch of Thales.

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© Clément Lesaffre / Europe 1

And if everything digital scares you, rest assured: Thales does not envisage the disappearance of the physical bank card for several decades.

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