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From Zwipe Pay to Zwipe Access – Biometric card pioneer backs away from payments citing lower-than-expected market uptake

29 ianuarie 2024

Zwipe AS recently announced a company restructuring and new strategic direction, increasing its focus on Zwipe Access and accelerating the commercialization of its biometric authentication technology in the access control market.

„As a result of the change in strategic focus, the company has initiated a restructuring process that is expected to reduce operational costs, particularly related to Zwipe Pay.” according to the press release.

„On a directly comparable basis excluding one-off costs, the Group expects to reduce operating costs in 2024 by approximately NOK 40 million compared to 2023, combining the effects of Zwipe’s new strategy and the streamlining plan previously announced on 21 June 2023. ” the company explained.

Zwipe has seen considerable traction and progress in the access control market in 2023, with more than 30 partnerships signed or in progress in the USA and Europe. The market is in its early stages but we believe biometric cards can represent a substantial share of the nearly 500 million smart access cards expected to be shipped annually in coming years. Our value proposition is clear, with partners and end-users alike recognizing the substantial benefits of biometric access control technology in terms of security, convenience, and GDPR compliance,” says Zwipe CEO Robert Puskaric.

In addition, in recent months compliance with the EU NIS2 Directive on cybersecurity requirements in critical infrastructure sectors – required by October 2024 and which Zwipe Access provides – has emerged as a critical catalyst for end customers, encouraging them to consider the adoption of biometric access control solutions.

Zwipe has more than 60 proofs of concept in progress with end users, including a Top 3 global cloud service provider, a well-known Swedish consumer technology company, Berkshire Hathaway Energy Group, Fortune 100 companies, and entities including government agencies, airports, critical infrastructure operators, data centers, and healthcare facilities.

Our new strategic direction will mean laser focus on the singular objective to rapidly achieve commercial success with Zwipe Access, while operating in as lean a manner as possible to maximize our financial flexibility,” says Puskaric.

Zwipe has historically focused primarily on the development and application of its biometric authentication technology in the payments market. Over the last two years, Zwipe completed the development of Zwipe Pay including mobile enrollment solutions, achieved full certification of the technology by both Visa and Mastercard, and spent significant time lining up the biometric payment card (“BPC”) value chain players to launch quickly once banks decided to move forward with biometric payment cards. However, neither market adoption nor the pace of commercial launches has materialized in the manner Zwipe or other players had expected, particularly towards the end of 2023.

“The decision to focus on Zwipe Access is a natural outcome of the traction seen in 2023. However, all the effort that went into developing and certifying Zwipe Pay is what laid the foundation for success with Zwipe Access.  Our Access partners and end customers tell us they gain confidence using technology subjected to the rigorous testing required for certification in the payments market,” states Puskaric. Zwipe will continue to serve and fulfill purchase orders from Zwipe Pay customers that have already been certified.

Cost reduction initiatives will begin immediately, with full impact from the middle of the second quarter of 2024. On a net basis, five employees will leave Zwipe, with departures linked to Zwipe Pay, while the Zwipe Access sales team will increase slightly as the company ramps up commercialization efforts here.

Total cash flow over the coming two years is anticipated to be more than NOK 40 million better than if Zwipe had continued to focus on both payments and access control, giving Zwipe significantly longer runway and greater financial flexibility.

“While it is heartbreaking to let highly valued employees go and transition away from Zwipe Pay, we fully believe this is the right course of action for our shareholders. Zwipe Access is a higher margin business with visible commercial inroads, and our objective is for Zwipe to approach breakeven in H2 2025 as a result of higher margins, lower operational costs, and lower supply chain costs,” says CEO Robert Puskaric.

The recently completed rights issue, which includes a possible exercise of warrants in December 2024, should enable this path to profitability.

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