Interview with John Hinmon, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Cross Match Technologies, Inc.
fB: You have recently added some high profile players to your management team and your advisory board. Can you please tell us about these new additions?
CM: Certainly Peter. First off, thank you very much for the opportunity to talk with you today. As you know we were acquired back in July by Francisco Partners and as such we have a new board. We also added a few new players to the team. Most notably we have added the Honorable W. Ross Ashley to an advisory position to the board. Ross has an impressive background serving the government community, particularly DHS and will be advising us on matters relating to intelligence, defence, national security, and homeland security from a business growth perspective, so we are pleased to have him advising the board. With respect to our management team, the existing management team from the acquisition remains in place. We have added a few folks and in particular, Rick “Ozzie” Nelson has joined us in a business development capacity for the Americas. He comes with a very reputable past as a founder of the National Counterterrorism Center and senior fellow and director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a globally recognized think tank. Ozzie does a great job representing not only Cross Match, but really the biometrics industry as a whole, and has been quite effective in pushing biometric initiatives that are important for us as an industry.
fB: Those are very impressive additions. You also recently announced a new release for your mobile essential product line, is this designed for law enforcement specifically?
CM: Yes. The SDK that was released for the mobile essential really enables our Verifier Mw, which is our Rapid ID mobile identification device, to be utilized with a smartphone. In the past the device, which is completely wireless, would normally communicate back to a squad car laptop through wireless connection or Bluetooth connection and then on through the proper agency channels for processing. This SDK enables the device to actually communicate to an enabled smartphone and bypass going to a squad car laptop. So if the phone is connected to a network that has the appropriate gateway authorizations to connect to your states’ AFIS, then it would process directly that way. It gives an added level of flexibility and distance from the squad car for law enforcement.
fB: They must love that.
CM: We know it’s something law enforcement has been asking about and we are pleased to be able to offer it. We feel that it will add an additional level of flexibility for officers and an additional level of security for them as well.
fB: You were recognized by Frost & Sullivan with an award for Customer Value Enhancement. What does this kind of recognition mean for your company?
CM: We were very honored and pleased to receive the award and for us it just validates what Cross Match has been all about from the very beginning back in 1996. The company’s foundation is one of innovation and industry firsts. We’ve had a number of those over the years and have worked to stay out front and be an innovative business. There are a number of products that we offer that reflect that; from our Guardian to our SEEK product lines. For many of us here, and certainly those that have been here for some time, it was a nice recognition by an independent party who has been following the biometrics industry for quite some time.
fB: Cross Match also entered into an relationship with NEC in 2012 incorporating NEC’s facial recognition on your SEEK unit. Can you elaborate a little on this for us?
CM: That is correct. We demonstrated their NeoFace facial recognition system on the SEEK at BCC this past year. We have had a long history with NEC and continue to be quite active with them. We are always looking for other opportunities where we can continue to leverage one another’s expertise in our given technology areas.
fB: Great and you have launched several other products over the past short while. Can you give us an update on WEBS and some of the others as well?
CM: Sure, absolutely! We’ve actually had some very good responses. We launched WEBS in August and that was the enrollment portion of the platform, the first module of our web based biometric platform. We deployed it with our first customer, a large federal agency in the fall. So that has been a great success. As you know we unveiled our next generation of Guardian and Guardian IP ten print scanners at BCC, and like their predecessors, they were designed with border control deployments in mind. These scanners really raise the bar for high quality, high throughput ten print scanning. So we are very excited about that. The WEBS platform, as I said, is a web based platform for the enrollment, matching and management of biometric data. Coupled with the new Guardian IP, it’s a uniquely suited application to address a lot of the concerns that are associated with today’s biometric implementations; which would include things like security, privacy and overall total cost of ownership of a biometric implementation.
fB: What is the hottest growth area for Cross Match right now?
CM: Well clearly I think as I look back on your ten year anniversary/year in review issue, mobile really is a hot area for us. We are going to be launching the new SEEK Avenger this year, which is the next handheld in the SEEK family of multimodal biometric handhelds. We view the mobile market place and space as a strategic opportunity for the business.
fB: I couldn’t agree more. It’s pretty exciting to see all of this activity start to really grow across a number of different verticals from health care to law enforcement, payments, financial. Mobile will really impact so many different areas.
CM: Very true and with the SEEK Avenger we really are looking at a number of market segments for that product beyond just the traditional defence or military application of the product. We see a logical cross over into remote border applications where it can help expand the effectiveness of the agents in the field; those in remote or transmission/communication compromised situations; as well as law enforcement or special operations law enforcement – I am thinking about crisis response teams or disaster recovery efforts.
fB: It’s a very exciting time for our industry.
CM: That it is.
fB: What is next for Cross Match?
CM: Well I think I hit one of the big ones for us which is the roll out of SEEK Avenger. That certainly is exciting and we’ll be looking at that around midyear, in the second quarter. We also have coming out the next module of the WEBS platform – WEBS Match which will be providing the matching functionality for the solution. And we have the next generation of the Authenticator, secure document reader, launching late in the year. Those are a few exciting things that are coming in 2013 for us. I think you will see the continuing evolution of the biometric handheld, and a focus on addressing more of the biometric value-chain with our integrators and partners – those are some of the things that we will continue to focus on as we head into 2014.
fB: Well you certainly have a lot of activity going on and it has been quite a year for Cross Match with the merger and all the new additions and congratulations on all of your success and thank you again for taking the time to speak with us today.
CM: A great pleasure Peter. Thank you!