Near field communication (NFC) is a technology that has almost been smuggled alongside the long line of mobile phone innovations. As a result, the marketplace for its proponents is relatively uncrowded, and FAMOCO can claim with full authority that it is a global leader in next-generation secure NFC readers. The company aims to “fill the gap between contactless card and NFC phones to accelerate the mass-market deployment of any kind of B2C and B2B services.”
NFC works similar to previous connective technologies such as Bluetooth. But, as Android Authority’s Robert Triggs explains, “due to the use of inductive coupling, and the absence of manual pairing, it takes less than one tenth of a second to establish a connection between two devices (via NFC), a speed which has only recently been matched by Bluetooth 4.0.”
With that in mind FAMOCO launched its FX100 series in October last year, a credit card-shaped device for Android that is GSM-enabled, has a touch screen and a dedicated secure element. It sits alongside a three-pronged range of products that FAMOCO is pushing into the world with considerable success.
The firm, which has offices in Paris, Hong Kong and Beijing, also offers its SDK solution, allowing third-party developers to create their own dedicated applications, and an over-the-air management suite, which can deploy real-time reports to clients. FAMOCO scored a major European coup in April this year when Lisbon-based contactless ticketing provider Card4B offered FX100 for its transport ticketing applications.
At the heart of it all, though, is security. “FAMOCO does not have yet a real face to face competitor,” says CEO and serial entrepreneur Lionel Baraban. “Anyone can theoretically use an NFC phone to handle their business needs, but experience shows that our best customers are the one who actually tried to use phones. We are more secure, simpler to deploy, easier to manage, but more important, we are a dedicated solution for customers with mission critical needs.”
FAMOCO is backed by venture capital from Aurinvest, a Paris-based firm founded in 2001. It also receives investment from FastForward, a venture capital founded by Netgem’s Olivier Guillaumin, which Baraban says is adding another layer of expertise to FAMOCO’s already esteemed board. In November last year, the company secured $1 million in funds from the two investors, which it claims will help it move into more markets in its home region. “After two years of research and development of the business in Asia, this new investment will help FAMOCO to continue opening new markets in EMEA,” said a company statement.
So what’s next for the firm in 2014? “In 2014 we simply want to achieve what we have already started: Being the network of acceptance, solution of choice, for any mass-market contactless card deployment,” says a confident Baraban. “We are looking at E-government, mobile point-of-sale (MPOS) and business process management (BPM).” Baraban certainly believes in aiming high.