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CrucialTec eyes fintech collaboration with Google, Alibaba, Microsoft

Charles Ahn, the chief executive of fingerprint module maker CrucialTec, is certain that his firm’s business will grow exponentially this year.

He certainly had reasons to be confident during his interview with The Korea Herald earlier this month. 

Charles Ahn, the chief executive of biometric sensor developer CrucialTec. (CrucialTec)
Charles Ahn, the chief executive of biometric sensor developer CrucialTec. (CrucialTec)

The Korean fingerprint module producer is anticipated to achieve a turnaround after suffering from three consecutive annual losses, and more than 10 business projects with global smartphone-makers to supply its fingerprint scanners, or biometric trackpads, this year are in the works.

“CrucialTec will not be just a manufacturer but a company that provides total biometric solutions from software and hardware to module packaging technologies,” Ahn said.

After its two biggest customers ― BlackBerry Ltd., formerly known as Research In Motion, and Taiwanese smartphone-maker HTC ― were outpaced by industry rivals, the Korean firm also stumbled, failing to secure new customers for its optical trackpads, or OTP, a small button-like optical mouse featured on BlackBerry smartphones.

The company, however, did not stop investing to seek new growth momentum, and has big hopes for its biometric trackpad.

“The biometric trackpad will allow the firm to take a big leap again after its success with the OTP,” the CEO said.

Ahn estimated that the market capitalization of the firm this year would exceed its record market cap of 700 billion won ($628 million), posted several years ago thanks to the robust growth of the OTP business.

Spearheading this year’s growth will be the firm’s patented technology that enables mobile users to scan their fingerprints on the bottom of smartphone screens. The so-called under-glass fingerprint scanner allows for fingerprint security without a home button installed with a sensor.

 
Fingerprint sensor modules and a smartphone embedded with an under-glass fingerprint scanner. (CrucialTec)
Fingerprint sensor modules and a smartphone embedded with an under-glass fingerprint scanner. (CrucialTec)
CrucialTec’s area-type fingerprint sensor modules. (CrucialTec)
CrucialTec’s area-type fingerprint sensor modules. (CrucialTec)

Smartphones embedded with under-glass fingerprint sensors are set to be rolled out as early as the first half of this year, according to the company.

CrucialTec has converted the production lines that used to roll out 10 million units of the OTP per month to ones for the BTP, so almost all the lines are now being used to churn out fingerprint sensors.

The sales coming from the BTP will likely account for almost 80 percent of the firm’s revenue this year.

With the door to the financial technology market flung open thanks to Apple’s online payment system Apple Pay, CrucialTec is riding the tide by working together with payment solution developer Danal.

“As a member of the FIDO Alliance, an industry consortium for standardization in authentication technology, CrucialTec will likely have an opportunity to increase its footing in the relevant fields and to further collaborate with other FIDO members including Google, Alibaba, PayPal and Microsoft,” the CEO said.

By Kim Young-won (wone0102@heraldcorp.com)
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