The pairing of two global leaders in digital security is seen as a perfect match
The young Finnish company Valimo has been purchased by the Netherlands-based Gemalto. This latest deal in Finland’s high-tech industry shows that the market is recovering and foreign companies are once again investing in Finland.
Founded ten years ago, Valimo Wireless has developed a legally binding mobile electronic signature. Using a mobile phone, a user can manage all secure signatures with only one personal identification number. In practice, a user can digitally sign documents and confirm transactions in a secure environment.
One of Valimo’s biggest markets is Turkey. A Turkish mobile operator uses Valimo to authenticate subscribers for commercial transactions such as online banking. Moreover, the operator has connected the Valimo platform to governmental agencies. In this way users can use public services such as obtaining birth certificates or booking appointments at hospitals.
The Finnish start-up industry has been excited about Valimo for some time because of the expected global demand for such a service. As digital services become increasingly mobile and fears about security arise, Valimo has positioned itself in a field with exponential growth potential. It has attracted investors such as the Altine Group, SpringBank TechVentures and F-Secure founder Risto Siilasmaa.
Gemalto seems to be a perfect fit for the Finnish company as they have already worked together for a number of years. In the future Valimo’s mobile identification system will be available through Gemalto’s existing 75 sales offices around the world. Gemalto is a leader in digital security and boasts 10,000 employees with revenue last year of 1.7 billion euros. It is traded publicly on the Euronext Paris exchange. Investors have been optimistic, pushing up Gemalto’s share price over 60 per cent over the past year.
Olivier Piou, CEO of Gemalto, thinks that the time was ripe to acquire the Finnish start-up. “Mobile digital signature has been on the horizon for a few years and we believe that we have now reached a tipping point,” he says. “Whether it is a high-end smart phone or a more basic phone, the one digital object consumers always have with them is their mobile phone, and they clearly express their desire to use it more and more for convenience in their daily lives. Enabling people to conveniently sign legally-valid transactions is opening up a whole range of new applications for the mobile phone, at the service of citizens.”
The CEO of Valimo, Juha Murtopuro, is equally enthusiastic. “Enabling strong user authentication and secure digital signatures on the mobile phone is a natural extension of Gemalto’s strong authentication offer,” he points out. “With Valimo’s mobile ID technology, people can access many services through different channels with one ID in a secure and convenient way.”
On the radar screen
To date Valimo’s platform is rare in Finland, but this is because the state has not taken the necessary steps to form the regulatory infrastructure. Murtopuro is sure change is on the way, though. “We expect that Finland will take a giant leap in this area in 2010 and introduce mobile ID finally to all citizens in order to access services like online banking, eGovernment services and many others to make the daily life of Finns easier and more secure,” he says.
The acquisition is the latest in Helsinki’s high-tech start-up environment, and market watchers are encouraged that foreign investors are again looking to Finland. “Each company in the Helsinki high-tech industry is unique but there are many promising companies which are on the radar screens of foreign investors for sure,” says Murtopuro.
Text: DAVID J. CORD, HELSINKI TIMES