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#G+D World #Annual Report

Security in the digital age

Annual Report
15 Mins.

Many people around the globe use digital devices and interfaces that make their lives easier and more convenient every day. Payment cards allow them to conduct contactless payments in stores and online through apps, while their smartphones connect them securely to the Internet and to the rest of the world. ID documents with integrated electronic chips facilitate travel, and digital identities enable citizens to access public and private services and offerings. 

a smiling woman holding a tablet in front of high buildings

Billions of people worldwide trust the technology behind these solutions and expect it to function securely and reliably. At G+D, we are committed to creating that trust and confidence. So, what areas of everyday life are supported and protected by our security technology?

“Digital applications have become almost ubiquitous; they open up new opportunities and horizons. At the same time, transformation to a more digital society poses new issues and challenges around security, data protection, and identities. These topics are highly relevant for businesses and indeed for everyone,” says Ralf Wintergerst, CEO of Giesecke+Devrient. “With our innovative security technology, G+D is a pioneer in many socially significant areas across the physical and digital worlds. We help to ensure that the daily lives of billions of people run smoothly and securely.”

Strategic development: G+D focuses on three segments

G+D is committed to ongoing strategic development, with the aim of continuing to play a key role in shaping digital transformation. The activities are organized in three new segments that reflect its target markets and portfolio: Digital Security, Financial Platforms, and Currency Technology. Digital Security protects and manages confidential systems, networks, data, and identities in physical, digital, and mobile environments. It is structured into units for Connectivity and IoT, Identity Technology, and Digital Infrastructures. The Financial Platforms business segment, which includes Trusted Software and Payment Technology, focuses on modern payment solutions and security technologies for digital banking. Currency Technology comprises the Digital Currency Ecosystem, Currency Management, and Banknote Solutions divisions. It provides trusted and secure solutions for public currencies in physical and also digital ecosystems.

In all of these areas, physical and digital products and services go hand in hand at G+D, with the real-world versions and their digital twins complementing each other. In the strict sense, a digital twin is the digital model of a physical object, such as a machine, but it is also a fitting description of the co-existence of physical and digital solutions.

“Our stance bolsters G+D’s position as a security tech company that provides reliable and innovative security solutions. After successfully achieving the milestones defined in our previous strategy cycle, we are now entering a new phase that focuses on integrated hardware, software, and solutions. We will drive this work forward in several stages,” says Jan Thyen, Head of Group Strategy and Corporate Development at G+D. This builds on  G+D’ tried-and-tested formula for innovation, which involves conducting its own R&D, engaging in business development projects, and making acquisitions (including corporate venturing). Recent examples here are the acquisition of a majority stake in software specialist Netcetera; the integration of international enterprise network operator Pod Group; the acquisition of track and trace specialist Mecomo; and the acquisition of the payment and identity solutions business of Valid. G+D can thus look back on a strong 2023 and intends to continue its successful M&A strategy in the future. 

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Innovation as a shared endeavor

True transformation is driven by permanent innovation. The technology landscape is changing rapidly, while markets are becoming ever more complex. As global connections grow due to digitalization, the need for integrated and interconnected solutions likewise increases. Ideas are the cornerstone for being part of this future, with G+D employees working together to turn them into Group-wide innovations. We firmly believe that everyone can make a valuable contribution to the development process. Efficient innovation management consists of translating these contributions into marketable innovations via proven processes and tools. External market input is also taken into account as part of an open innovation approach.

With these objectives in mind, G+D has established a cross-divisional innovation management initiative called Innoverse to accelerate the ideas process. Innoverse is designed as a network: creativity and expert knowledge are brought together through sharing information and ideas. This approach allows G+D to continue its numerous business development activities in core markets and additionally tap into new markets and technologies. Innovation management also involves creating plans as the basis for investment in new business fields or for joint ventures with start-ups. Here again, the aim is to open new horizons.

Chief Technology Officer Michael Tagscherer explains: “Innoverse is about thinking big. We consider each and every idea, no matter how ambitious it may seem at first sight. We deliberately venture into new territory, like the explorers of the past. Our innovation management system makes the ideas process more dynamic and promotes communication, collaboration, and creativity. For G+D, innovation is not just a buzzword – it has long been our key to sustained success and a fundamental part of our identity.”

Digital Security

Autonomous driving, smart homes and smart cities, sensor-controlled communication between machines in factories, and much more besides: the bigger and more comprehensive the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes, the more opportunities it offers. Simultaneously, trust in the security of digital systems  becomes more crucial. Smartphones, wearables, trackers, metering systems, and similar devices are connected to the IoT, as are more and more machines, vehicles, production facilities, and utility systems, thanks to the high-speed 5G telecommunications standard. It is estimated that around 14 billion devices will be connected to mobile operator networks by 2027.

Connectivity and IoT

Protecting our hyperconnected world against unauthorized access, data manipulation, and data theft is a hugely important and complex challenge. The SIM card and its latest eSIM and iSIM variants are making pivotal contributions when it comes to delivering that protection. At G+D, the success story of the SIM that began more than 30 years ago continues to unfold. SIMs are used countless times every day, acting as the ticket to the interconnected world by enabling the user authentication required for secure access to the cell phone network.

eSIMs, which are embedded in devices as a chip during the manufacturing process, have been gaining in importance for some time. This technology offers users a number of advantages – they can set up a cell phone contract and activate their device digitally in a quick and easy process and also create multiple user profiles, e.g. for personal and business use. More and more manufacturers of smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches have been equipping their products with eSIM technology in recent years. In the US, Apple has sold its new iPhones exclusively with this technology since 2022; their phones no longer have a SIM card tray. GSMA, the global industry association of mobile network operators, estimates that in the consumer sector, around half of all smartphone connections will be made via eSIM by 2028.1 Thanks to excellent performance and service availability combined with the highest security standards in its GSMA-accredited data centers, G+D is now the market leader in eSIM management. More than a billion mobile devices use G+D’s eSIM operating system, with a major milestone being achieved in early 2023 when consumer eSIM downloads hit the 100 million mark.

G+D has already taken the next evolutionary step with the iSIM, which is integrated into an IoT device in a system-on-a-chip (SoC) architecture. This means the SIM functions are carried out in a secure area within a chip that also performs other tasks. Given the demand for greater integration, the benefits are particularly relevant for mobile devices, wearables, and the tracking devices market. This next-generation SIM and the operating system installed on it open up entirely new opportunities (and connections).

Supported by acquisitions, G+D is currently developing additional services for IoT connectivity on the basis of SIM applications. Thanks to our international roaming agreements, companies receive secure, easy access to over 600 networks in 185 countries. The service portfolio is primarily aimed at small and mid-sized companies, providing them with an end-to-end solution for global IoT connectivity without having to partner with the various mobile network providers worldwide. G+D provides everything from SIMs, eSIMs, iSIMs, and connectivity through to user portals for evaluating the data transmitted by the devices. Demand for IoT tracking applications is growing rapidly, particularly in the logistics industry. Knowledge of where goods carriers are located, what routes they are taking, and what condition the cargo is in enables transport companies to manage their fleets with maximum efficiency and provide customers with additional services. As a result, G+D has also offered tracking solutions for the transport industry since 2023 and is adding another service to its portfolio – maintenance-free motion detection of unpowered logistics assets. This includes trailers, swap bodies, containers, freight cars, and other logistics assets.

“Many sectors of business and society are reliant on secure connectivity and trusted communication devices. With this addition to its portfolio, G+D is evolving into a provider that is not only a leader in mobile communication with regard to security software for SIMs, eSIMs, and iSIMs but also offers its own mobile services and IoT devices for IoT applications, as well as access to analysis of the transmitted device data – all from a single source. And featuring the highest security standards on all three levels,” says Philipp Schulte, CEO of G+D Mobile Security.

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Identity Technology

From dealing with public authorities to traveling, from financial transactions to straightforward tasks such as collecting a parcel, we need to prove our identity securely and reliably in many areas of our daily lives. In the digital age, protecting one’s identity takes on a new dimension. Digitalized ID documents need to be just as secure as their physical counterparts – and people should also be able to use them easily and intuitively. Compared to physical documents, they offer significant advantages: they can be used in a variety of scenarios and can serve as convenient proof of identity when accessing online platforms.

Although most IDs and passports are still physical documents, they are increasingly being equipped with digital features. They also benefit from digitalized processes and modern security technology in their production and use. Electronic passports and ID cards store citizens’ data, including biometric information, on secure electronic chips. Advanced encryption technology provides these documents with protection against identity fraud, particularly by preventing reproduction and unauthorized reading. Among the services enabled by integrated chips is digital use of ID documents via smartphone apps. Using the data stored in the app, citizens can register travel documents or submit visa applications. These apps are not yet virtual documents in the strict sense since they merely replicate the functionality of physical documents, but they are an important step in terms of driving forward digitalization.

Veridos, a joint subsidiary of G+D and Bundesdruckerei, leverages innovative security and identity technology to protect citizens’ unique and distinctive identities. A hundred countries worldwide rely on G+D’s end-to-end identity portfolio. With VeriGO MobileTravel Assist, Veridos provides a solution that can manage one or more passport data sets, e.g. those of family members. The data is read securely from the chip in the passport and stored in an app on the smartphone. Users can transmit this data digitally to trusted third parties such as border authorities or private providers – to apply for a visa online, for example, or book a hotel room.

“Digitalization is playing an increasing role in the ID world, although end users may not always be aware of it,” says Marc-Julian Siewert, CEO of Veridos. “This digital transformation opens up a wide range of possibilities for our physical documents and is set to revolutionize the way we travel and use our legal identity. At the same time, physical passports and ID documents retain their importance as identity verification documents for citizens, and they will continue to be part of Veridos’s core business in the long term.”

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Digital Infrastructure

We all leave a digital footprint every day, and in doing so assume that our data enjoys the best possible protection. The same applies – albeit on a much larger scale – to companies that store electronic information about their business activities, employees, and customers. For them, business success and customer trust depend on protecting this information from unauthorized access. In sensitive areas such as healthcare, critical infrastructures, and public institutions, the stakes are even higher. Digital interconnection therefore calls for a robust security architecture and technologies that provide reliable protection against misuse. In the cloud in particular, effective safeguarding of data, applications, and other services is essential. In its recent report on the state of IT security2 in Germany, the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) warned that the threat in cyberspace is higher than ever before. Cybercriminals are targeting not only large companies but increasingly also SMEs, state institutions, and municipalities.

“Public institutions and SMEs are under huge pressure to digitalize, something that could be efficiently addressed with cloudification. But they are also dependent on cloud applications meeting the highest security standards. secunet is a trusted security partner here with its innovative solutions,” says Axel Deininger, CEO of secunet.

The crucial question is: how can companies and public authorities retain control of their data, i.e. achieve digital sovereignty? secunet, G+D’s Digital Infrastructures division, is developing an ecosystem of cloud services that leverages its tried-and-tested open-source-based platform. This ecosystem is modular and interoperable, which means it can be adapted to a wide range of user requirements. The cloud systems include security levels from GDPR-compliant up to the classification level SECRET. This new development is underpinned by secunet’s proven encryption technology, combined with the high-security solution SINA, which already sets the benchmark for secure networks and workplaces in the public sector. In the future, it will also be used to reliably secure access points to the cloud.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is impacting more and more areas of life. With some AI applications, it is particularly important to avoid undesirable effects. Examples here include AI systems that are used at airports for live analysis of facial images to avert threats. secunet tests and trains these systems to ensure there is no statistical bias in the underlying data. 
Bias can cause AI to deliver skewed results that may disadvantage certain groups. To prevent this, a special solution is used to create a large number of photorealistic synthetic identities with combinations of characteristics that reflect human diversity. This data allows testing of AI systems in order to recognize and eliminate bias, thereby ensuring fairness and security while simultaneously improving analysis performance. With its solutions for automated border control, secunet already makes a key contribution to security and efficient processes at airports and at land and sea borders.

“Transformation to a more digital society poses new issues and challenges around security, data protection, and identities. These topics are highly relevant for businesses; indeed, for everyone.“
Ralf Wintergerst
CEO of Giesecke+Devrient

Financial Platforms

Whenever consumers use their payment card in a store or pay online, they trust that their money will reach the recipient safely and no other authorized transactions will take place. Debit and credit cards play an important role for payment in brick-and-mortar retail and e-commerce stores alike. In 2023 alone, G+D shipped more than 500 million payment cards with a contactless payment function. Physical use of these cards complement the digital shopping experience. 

a person holding a smartphone a bank card in front of a laptop with visuals

Payment Technology

G+D and Netcetera have joined forces to create a holistic portfolio of modern payment and banking services. Payment cards made of recycled plastic, such as recycled ocean plastic, and other recyclable materials allow consumers to demonstrate their sustainable lifestyle through their choice of payment card. Accordingly, G+D has become the first major payment card manufacturer to pledge to replace virgin plastic in its payment card products by the end of the decade. This is one of many initiatives that underscore G+D’s intention to take a leading role in terms of both corporate responsibility and social commitment to sustainability. The associated transition process is already under way. G+D’s Convego® Beyond portfolio enables a number of major banks to offer a range of sustainable products and services. For example, Rabobank in the Netherlands and UniCredit’s HypoVereinsbank in Germany issue sustainable cards from the Convego® series to their customers.

“The real world and the digital world are converging, with regard to both payment transactions and banking. Consumers and retailers need to have the same level of trust in this changing world, without everyday transactions becoming more complex,” says Gabrielle Bugat, CEO of G+D ePayments. “Thanks to its strategic investments and comprehensive portfolio of cards and digital solutions, G+D is a reliable partner for paytech requirements in the digital age.”

If there is one everyday activity that needs to be straightforward and accessible for all population groups, it is surely the making of payments. In recognition of this fact, G+D supports the social need for accessibility along with delivering a safe and convenient payment experience. Consumers thus have the freedom to choose the payment method that suits them best. In this context, G+D is developing cards with tactile elements for people with visual impairments, which help them to recognize more quickly whether they are holding a debit card or credit card, for example. G+D takes inclusiveness very seriously; these special features mean that the issued payment cards will prevent any form of discrimination and offer greater convenience for users. Similarly, a biometric payment card saves users the trouble of remembering a PIN or password and enables authentication of transactions by fingerprint or facial scan. G+D and Netcetera, our newest division, are also working on refining their app for mobile payments, enabling it to be used more effectively and intuitively by the visually impaired. These efforts are in accordance with European and German legislation on the accessibility of products and services. The relevant EU directive will take effect in Germany in June 2025.

E-commerce operators also need to remain mindful of security. Netcetera provides 3-D Secure products that make online payments safe for consumers and retailers alike. Tokenization of customer and account information enables unique identification when making payments, so no information about the cardholder or sensitive card data is exposed during transactions. G+D’s award-winning tokenization solutions protect more than three billion transactions a year.

More ways of paying digitally and carrying out banking transactions online mean that security also needs to be stepped up. Fraud attempts through phishing, scams, and social fraud currently pose a particular threat. In response, G+D provides the option of passwordless biometric authentication on cell phones. When customers do their banking online, digital differentiation is another hot topic. Netcetera’s modular web and mobile banking solutions enable banks to also present their brand’s value proposition to customers when using these channels.

a person paying on a card machine with visuals

Trusted Software

Netcetera and G+D work together to develop groundbreaking IT products and innovative digital solutions. This makes them valued and reliable partners for business-critical applications in highly secure environments, such as financial technology, mobility, healthcare, and access control, where data privacy is crucial. Netcetera combines in-depth expertise and technology skills with creativity and passion to deliver dependable, forward-looking solutions.

Carsten Wengel, CEO of Netcetera, explains: “Netcetera stands for trust and security in the digital world. Our value proposition is based on three pillars: we develop business-critical software solutions and customer-centered digital journeys while protecting privacy and personal data in accordance with the highest security standards. Together with G+D, we create new digital business models in an international environment.”

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Currency Technology

Cash is part of modern life, and its many properties are astonishing. Apart from being a generally accepted means of payment, cash is easy and straightforward to use. It is also a driver and stabilizer of national economies. As a public good, cash must meet high requirements. It needs to be extensively available, accessible to everyone, and widely accepted. Even in times of crisis, the supply of cash must continue uninterrupted so that it can fulfil its stabilizing role.

animation of ten euro bills in a money counting machine

Currency Management

The resilience of the cash cycle – i.e. the ability to react appropriately to changes in demand or changing conditions – is exceptionally important. This calls for a responsive system where the supply of cash is guaranteed at all times, whether in normal everyday life or in times of crisis, such as during natural disasters or power outages. Automated processes are becoming increasingly important for the efficient provision of cash, in addition to adaptable infrastructure. The BPS® M evo represents the next generation of high-performance systems for banknote processing and exemplifies the trend. This multifunctional system features state-of-the-art software technology and was developed for efficient and secure processing of large volumes of banknotes.

Banknote Solutions

Security in tandem with innovation is essential for reliable and durable banknotes. G+D has designed and manufactured 160 billion banknotes worldwide to date, with sustainability becoming an increasingly important criterion. The aim is to use fewer resources throughout the entire lifecycle of a banknote in order to reduce the environmental impact. A special Green Banknote has been developed as part of this endeavor. Compared to the rest of the market, this banknote has the best carbon footprint when considering the entire lifecycle, thanks to its material mix and lifespan. Green LongLife™ banknote paper has a high biobased material content, and the proportion of plastic and mineral oil-based inks has been reduced to a new low for the banknote sector. With its green products, G+D is pointing the way forward for a sustainable, environmentally optimized cash cycle.

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Digital Currency Ecosystem

In the future, we will have a range of analog and digital payment methods available, with the option to freely choose between them at any time. “Because of its unique properties and importance, cash remains indispensable, but in an increasingly digital world it also needs a virtual counterpart. The complementary functionalities of analog and digital central bank currencies are essential for delivering the stability, resilience, and innovation that the economy and society will continue to need going forward,” says Wolfram Seidemann, CEO of G+D Currency Technology.

A total of 130 countries are currently exploring the introduction of such a currency. Around half are at an advanced phase of exploration and are running a pilot or have already launched a CBDC.3 Central bank digital currency (CBDC) is the equivalent of cash for a digital world. As a public means of payment, digital money, like cash, is issued by central banks, who always operate in the public interest and are not profit oriented. When cash is used, there are no charges, and no data has to be disclosed. The same applies to well-designed central digital bank currencies.

A successfully implemented CBDC must enjoy the trust of consumers, companies, banks, and other stakeholders. G+D has accordingly developed Filia®, a central bank digital currency solution that supports more than 24 use cases, from QR code payment and person-to-person payment, online and offline, through to user-to-commerce transactions via applets and various channels. The vision is that both fintechs and banks will develop payment solutions and build them on a digital public infrastructure. Such an infrastructure offers huge potential for innovation and can unlock great economic value.

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New horizons, forward-looking technologies

Digital development is fast-paced and generates a constant need for new security solutions and business models. For G+D, it is therefore crucial to recognize future trends today and address the associated challenges for our portfolio and for our customers. We have set up think tanks for this purpose, each of which deals with a specific topic and develops related solutions.

For example, Artificial intelligence has been a priority technology for G+D for several years. Employees from many different business units work in competence centers on AI governance and best practices, among other issues. The implemented AI applications serve purposes ranging from accelerating production processes and improving product quality to boosting product security. AI also plays a role in data security throughout the entire lifecycle. Achieving trustworthy data, i.e. ensuring the trustworthiness of data from collection, storage, and processing through to transfer, is another key task in today’s interconnected world. G+D is developing cross-segment solutions in this field. Training courses are available for employees to introduce the functionality and explain potential applications.

Digital identities are an additional area of emphasis, with a special focus on decentralization and autonomy. Consumers can keep their identity credentials in ID wallets and decide when and how much sensitive data is released. The emerging concept of self-sovereign identities (SSI) centers on security and data protection, with these aspects being primarily guaranteed by means of cryptographic processes. G+D’s development work will make many processes – such as age verification or providing a driver’s license to a car rental company – even faster, more convenient, safer, and more trustworthy in the future. To identify potential business opportunities for G+D in the virtual realm, one G+D think tank has been looking at the concept of the metaverse, which arguably involves the furthest journey into the future as things stand today. The metaverse is made up of decentralized virtual environments and provides a platform for digital twins, the maintenance of digital assets, secure transactions, and social contact. Through intensive engagement and innovative out-of-the-box thinking, the members of the think tank have identified numerous business opportunities and concrete ideas for future activities at G+D. These ideas will serve as starting points for further analysis.

For G+D as a global security tech company, innovation and ongoing development of solutions are key components of our corporate strategy. With their ideas, expertise, and commitment, G+D’s employees make a vital contribution towards such innovations. Our motto thus remains the same: G+D safeguards essential assets around the world through security technology that creates confidence.

  1. Scaling eSIM in 2023 and beyond: new developments, market trends and consumer behavior, GSMA Intelligence, 2023

  2. The State of IT Security in Germany, Federal Office for Information Security, 2023

  3. Central Bank Digital Currency Tracker, Atlantic Council, 2023

Published: 11/04/2024

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