Tech firm wins Mastercard contract

Idex is headed up by Harrogate-based Hemant Mardia
Idex is headed up by Harrogate-based Hemant Mardia
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Tech firm Idex has won a deal with Mastercard for its fingerprint sensor technology which will be used by the credit card firm for its next generation of smart cards.

Idex, which is headed up by Harrogate-based Hemant Mardia, the former CEO of Filtronic, said the deal is the next step beyond the era of chip and pin.

Following successful trials in South Africa, the fingerprint scanning technology is expected be available on credit cards early next year.

Cards using the new technology are inserted into existing payment terminals which will match a customer's own fingerprint with the one stored on the card. The technology is secure and the fingerprint never leaves the card. The Idex technology uses touch sensitive fingerprint sensors, similar to those used in the latest smart phones, and can be used on wet or dry fingers.

Shares in Idex have jumped in value by nearly £82m since the news was announced, which has seen the value of stakes held by UK shareholders such as the Patient Capital Trust, run by fund manager Neil Woodford, and Invesco Perpetual increase by 24 per cent. Mr Woodford's 26 per cent investment in Idex is now worth over £110m, whist Invesco holds 16 per cent of the company.

Whilst the majority of its staff are based in Norway, the company has been growing its UK presence with offices in Darlington and Farnborough. Dr Mardia, chief executive of Idex, splits his time between Oslo, US offices and his home in Harrogate and has a long history of involvement with innovating electronics in Yorkshire, having been CEO of Yorkshire based Filtronic for four years, a company that he first joined after completing his Ph.D in electronics at Leeds University.

Commenting on the deal, Dr Mardia said: "We are very pleased to be partnering with a true pioneer in the development of easy and secure transaction environments for consumers across the world. Our partnership has achieved first mover advantage in the mass market adoption for biometric cards, and we expect initial commercial deployment to begin in 2017.

"We currently have four people in our UK operations based in Newton Aycliffe, Darlington, and a further 13 staff in Farnborough, focused mainly on engineering. As Mastercard rolls out its global payment card programme, I expect we'll be adding significantly to our UK presence, strengthening our operations team in the North East."

Idex was founded in 1996 and listed on the Oslo stock exchange in 2010. It develops fingerprint sensor technology for use in smartcards, mobile phones and with applications associated with the internet of things. Biometric credit cards from Mastercard with fingerprint sensors are expected to be available for UK consumers around the world in 2018.