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RFID News Roundup

MetraTec announces new HF reader; Visa, La Caixa rolling out payWave in Spain; SkyeTek raises third funding round; Inside Contactless growing staff, office space; Bibliotheca expands U.S. operations.
By Alexander C.H. Skorna and André Richter
Jul 27, 2007The following are news announcements made during the week of July 23.

MetraTec Announces New HF Reader
German RFID hardware provider MetraTec RFID Solutions has announced the QuasarMR1, its new multiprotocol HF RFID interrogator. The device contains the SkyeTek M1 high frequency RFID reader module, compliant with the ISO-15693 and ISO-14443 air-interface protocol standards. The QuasarMR1 has a read range of 30 to 40 centimeters (12 to 16 inches). The reader can be linked via USB to a server and is also available with an optional Ethernet port. It comes with eight general-purpose programmable input/output ports, used for attaching such components as a light stack or an electronic eye to control the reader. The QuasarMR1 is available in an industrial aluminum housing or as a credit card-sized module for integration into OEM systems. MetraTec plans to market the device for library and document-management applications, as well as to the parcel logistics and automated inventory-assessment (smart-shelf) markets. Distribution of the readers will be handled by metraTec directly, through a planned network of distributors, and also through Meshed Systems, a value-added reseller for SkyeTek located in Munich, Germany. The QuasarMR1 is available at a price of €295 ($400), or €375 ($515) for the version with an Ethernet port.

Visa, La Caixa Rolling Out payWave in Spain
Visa Europe has partnered with La Caixa, a large Spanish banking firm, to launch the first Visa payWave program in Spain. Visa's payWave credit cards contain RFID inlays that are used to make wireless, contactless transactions using RFID-enabled payment terminals at select merchants. According to Visa Europe, Kinepolis movie theaters throughout Madrid have installed the payment terminals, which accept the payWave cards. La Caixa decided to begin issuing payWave cards to its customers in order to provide them with a convenient means of paying for goods and services in scenarios where speedy transactions are important. The payWave cards are also being issued in Turkey, through Denizbank. In September, Visa is planning a launch in the United Kingdom, where it is working with HSBC, Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS), Lloyds TSB (a group of U.K.-based financial services companies) and London's Barclays bank to issue the cards. Additionally, through a partnership with the London public transportation system, Visa is developing an RFID-enabled payment card that will also function as an Oyster payment card for transit fares. More than 10 million Oyster cards, containing NXP Semiconductors' Mifare high-frequency RFID chip, have already been issued to British commuters.

SkyeTek Raises Third Funding Round
SkyeTek, an RFID hardware and systems developer based in Westminster, Colo., has secured a $10 million Series C round of venture capital funding. Maryland-based Grotech Capital Group led the round, with participation from TD Fund, based in Washington, D.C., and existing investors Appian Ventures, Sequel Venture Partners and Palomar Ventures. SkyeTek says it will use the funding to expand its sales efforts, product development and patent portfolio. The company's last funding round, announced in August 2005, totaled $8 million.

Inside Contactless Growing Staff, Office Space
RFID hardware provider Inside Contactless says it will move its headquarters in the Parc Club du Golf in Aix-en-Provence, France, in order to accommodate recent and future growth. The company has been adding staff in recent months, and now exceeds 100 employees. It has opened a commercial office in Singapore and is also establishing an office in Northern California. The larger headquarters will enable the company's engineers to establish larger and more secure product development and testing labs, which it will utilize to foster development products that follow the emerging near-field communication (NFC) specification for payment and data exchange using mobile devices. Its new office in Singapore is located in the city's Science Park area. Inside says the Asian market will be crucial to its business going forward, so establishing a presence in Singapore has been a top priority for the firm. The new Northern California office will be located in Silicon Valley, the company says, and will address the growing parking for RFID-enabled payment systems in the United States.

Bibliotheca Expands U.S. Operations
Bibliotheca RFID Library Systems, a Switzerland-based maker of RFID products for libraries, is expanding its U.S. operations and has moved into a larger corporate office in Feasterville, Pa. The new U.S. corporate headquarters includes a showroom housing the company's line of RFID products, such as patron self-check systems, RFID gate antennas and automated material handling and sorting systems. Distribution of the company's products has also been centralized at the new corporate headquarters. The manufacturer's main U.S. telephone number has changed to 215-750-8111, and its fax number is now 215-750-8119. Its toll-free number, 1-8777-BIBLIO, remains the same.
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