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Matrics Lands Japanese Distributor

Mighty Card, a subsidiary of Marubeni Corp., will market Matrics RFID products in Japan.
By Bob Violino
Oct 28, 2003Matrics, an RFID systems provider in Columbia, Md., has signed an agreement with Marubeni Corp. to become the distributor for Matrics in Japan. Marubeni will market Matrics RFID solutions through its Mighty Card subsidiary.
Matrics' Coyle

Japan recently announced that it was opening up a small sliver of the UHF band (950 to 956 MHz) for use by RFID systems (see Japan Opens Up UHF for RFID Use). Previously, companies were allowed to use only 13.56 MHz and 2.45 GHz for RFID.

"The Japanese government has removed the handcuffs on UHF systems, and that market is really coming on line now," says Tom Coyle, VP of supply chain solutions for Matrics. "So this is the right time for us to move into the Asian market."

The total RFID market, including related systems and services, is expected to reach 300 billion yen (US$2.8 billion) by the end of 2005. Matrics believes that partnering with an established systems provider such as Marubeni will give it a good opportunity to capture a share of that market.

Marubeni is a sogo-shosha—a diversified Japanese trading firm—which had sales of US$73 billion in the year ended March 31, 2003. Its Mighty Card unit provides RFID tags and systems in Japan. Up to now, it has been selling 13.56 MHz systems, so the deal with Matrics gives the company the ability to offer customers a UHF system.

To strengthen the subsidiary’s sales effort, Marubeni has formed an RFID project team that will market the Matrics solutions. Koji Kabumoto, president of Mighty Card, said in a statement that his company selected Matrics "because of its top-notch RFID technology and its announcement of PICA, which will enable the RFID transformation of the consumer goods supply chain."

PICA stands for Parallel Integrated Chip Assembly. It is the name Matrics has given to a new high-speed RFID tag-assembly machine that the company says will be able to produce up to 70 billion RFID tags per year (see New High-Speed RFID Tag Machine). Matrics expects its first PICA machine, installed at the company's Maryland headquarters, will begin production in first quarter 2004.

Because Japan is forecast to emerge as a major market for RFID systems, other vendors of UHF systems have been lining up local partners that can sell their systems in Japan. Back in March, Alien Technology announced that it had signed up Toray International as its sole distributor in Japan.

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