February 7, 2014 – by Peter B. Counter
Swedish biometric sensor manufacturer Fingerprint Cards AB (FPC) had an exceptional 2013, especially in the second half. One need only look at the sheer multitude of news items surrounding the company to understand that its aggressive stance was paying off. If you were to take a closer look at said news items, what you would find is a trend of mobile device launches, design wins and excited buzz about how the biometrics concern has been benefiting from the mass market popularity of strong, post-password authentication.
Yesterday, FPC released the financial results for its fourth quarter, and with them came the assuring numbers indicating that last year was as good as it seemed for the company. Reporting sales of SEK 34 million during Q4 of 2013, FPC has set a new personal sales record. This, when taken in combination with the rest of the year, adds up to make 2013 the best the company has experienced in terms of sales ever.
Much has been made already of the positive effect the Apple iPhone 5S had in terms of public interest in FPC – even the rumors of Touch ID saw the Swedish company’s stock jump – but what was it that made October, November and December so beneficial for the manufacturer?
The answer seems to be its aggressive marketing posture and a positive attitude in terms of innovation. The fourth quarter saw FPC continue to rack up design wins while releasing its technology on a very large number of smartphones and other mobile devices in its expressly targeted market: Asia. It was also the period that saw some major releases in other areas, namely smart cards with embedded Fingerprint Cards technology and a new sensor itself: the FPC1020 capacitive touch sensor.
The new touch sensor – in addition to being quite popular among FPC customers, according to company CEO Johan Carlström – was also a key feature in Fingerprint Cards AB’s first official collaboration with the FIDO Alliance.
“Together with Nok Nok Labs, we introduced a broad infrastructure solution for secure online user verification based on smartphones and tablets with integrated fingerprint sensors,” says Carlström. “This solution is the first result of our joint activities to support the FIDO Alliance and our objective is to assist the FIDO Alliance in achieving its goal of transforming the way we currently verify our online identity, and also to help FPC customers to easily become a part of this ecosystem.”
As far as what is to come, Fingerprint Cards is once again optimistic entering its next quarter. In 2014, FPC is projecting sales exceeding SEK 500 million, with the full year EBITDA margin finishing over 20 percent. The company is expecting for the sales to increase sequentially throughout the year, with most of the income occurring in the second half, as volume deliveries of area sensors are scheduled for the end of Q2.
FPC’s goal in 2014 is to capture 60 percent of the market for area sensors in smartphones, despite the fact that current market forecasts are preparing the market for lower sales volume. This however brings with it a promise of higher average sales. As the transition from swipe sensors to area continues, the market volumes will be difficult to access, according to FPC, but projections that this year the market for fingerprint biometric sensors in consumer electronics will exceed 350 million followed by strong growth, has the company optimistic and looking ready to continue breaking its own records.