News and resources on payments systems, innovations and initiatives worldwide.
Biometric card pioneer Zwipe backs out of payment card market

Biometric card pioneer Zwipe backs out of payment card market

Biometric card company Zwipe is backing out of the payments market following disappointing uptake of its fingerprint-powered contactless cards.

The Norwegian firm is commencing a restructuring and a new strategic direction, turning its attention instead to the biometric access control market.

The discontinuation of payments and a slimmed down business will reduce operating costs in 2024 by approximately NOK 40 million compared to 2023

Zwipe CEO Robert Puskaric. “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.”

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 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.

So far, only one bank, Kuwait International Bank, has commenced a roll out, and this limited to VIP clients. Zwipe has previously piloted the technology with Fidor Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, Op Financial and others.

“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.

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.

“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." says Puskaric. "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."

Learn more about payments at NextGen Nordics on the 23 April 2024.

Comments: (2)

Hitesh Thakkar
Hitesh Thakkar - SME - Fintech startups (APAC and Africa) - India 31 January, 2024, 15:34Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Big dispointment to see Zwipe Pay will sunset but wish success for Zwipe Access.

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 01 February, 2024, 13:471 like 1 like

Biometrics is arguably one of the biggest flops in finserv industry of all times. I've lost count of the number of times the tech was supposed to change the future of authentication by next year for the last 20 years. Fingerprint scanner simply doesn't work reliably or fast enough under real world conditions. Except the very high end ones in expensive iPhones, that is, which is way above the paygrade of contactless credit cards. Besides, with countries increasing the limit of PINless transaction values on contactless cards, who needs any form of authentication - let alone biometrics - on a credit card anyway?