Under the agreement, the new holding company will acquire from MasterCard the intellectual property underlying MULTOS and the Global MULTOS Key Management Authority operation. The new entity will also assume management of London-based MAOSCO Ltd, the secretariat of the MULTOS Consortium which together with its 16 member companies will continue to develop MULTOS as an open standard smart card platform.
The new holding company will also have offices in San Francisco, Washington DC and Asia. John Wood, the former founder of Keycorp and chairman of the MULTOS Consortium since 2001, will assume the position of CEO.
'This agreement opens up support for the MULTOS platform and provides new funding to develop and grow the business. MULTOS has enjoyed volume growth of over 50% per annum since its inception in 1997. The future prospects of the business have never looked better,' said John Wood, MULTOS CEO. 'The new management team will allow MULTOS to maintain its strong position by continuing to develop unrivalled technology and by moving into important early adopter markets."
MasterCard, Keycorp, Hitachi and Oak Hill intend to play a key role in helping MULTOS to expand its presence beyond the financial smart card sector. MULTOS is also used by e-passport, enterprise security, mass transit and national identity smart card issuers where existing and current deployments include the Hong Kong Smart ID card, the Saudi National ID card, Japanese Residential ID card and the Turkish Military ID card.
The new management and investor group intend to leverage MULTOS' secure environment and content management platform in a wider range of consumer devices (such as PCs, wireless PDAs and mobile phones), the new investment will be used for MULTOS to expand its presence in securing environments for digital assets and services including secure computing, mobile communications and pay TV.
'MULTOS has made tremendous progress in the marketplace over the past few years. Its future success will now be optimised by opening its ownership to a broader group of companies in other industries,' said Art Kranzley, Global Product Group Executive, advanced payments, MasterCard International. 'MasterCard remains committed to supporting its MasterCard OneSmart smart card program and to the worldwide deployment of the EMV chip standard on the MULTOS platform.'
Keycorp, CEO, Bruce Thompson, said, 'With a broader mandate and a strong presence in the US, we expect the new entity to drive a solid return on our investment over the next few years.'
Hitachi's executive vice president and executive officer, Kazuo Furukawa, said, 'MULTOS is a key element in Hitachi's growth strategy. It complements our strong ID solutions capability in Japan and overseas. Hitachi will continue to develop IT platform and solutions based on MULTOS key management.'
"This is a smart, aggressive team of entrepreneurs," said Dave Brown, managing partner, Oak Hill Venture Partners. 'The team combines strategic vision with global expertise in building and implementing trust environments on cards and devices. As an innovator and emerging leader in these environments, MULTOS will provide the foundation for extending trust services beyond web servers and into local domains.'