Gemplus started its operations in 1988 as a supplier of prepaid phonecards. Because of its presence in the market of the prepaid phonecards during the 1990s, the company developed ties with the telecommunications industry along with Schlumberger.

Prior to 1999, the business was conducted through Gemplus S.C.A., a French limited partnership. In December 1999, Gemplus Associates, the general partner of Gemplus S.C.A., merged into Gemplus S.C.A., which became a joint stock company, Gemplus SA. In February 2000, the corporate structure was reorganized and a new holding company, Gemplus International SA, a Luxembourg corporation, was created. Texas Pacific Group became a shareholder of Gemplus at the time of its equity contribution in February 2000.

In December 2000, the company completed an initial public offering of its capital stock, in the form of ordinary shares traded on the Eurolist of Euronext Paris, and ADSs traded on the U.S. NASDAQ exchange. In 2004, the company completed the planned reorganization of its corporate structure by transferring most of the subsidiaries of Gemplus SA to Gemplus International SA.

In April 2005, Gemplus acquired Setec Oy, a company headquartered in Finland that, among other things, supplies conventional and electronic travel passports to various government agencies and products involving secure printing.

In June 2006, smart card providers Axalto and Gemplus merged to become Gemalto (now Thales Group).