Vivotech Ends Operations as Sequent Buys Remaining Software Business
U.S.-based startup Sequent has acquired what appears to be the remaining operational assets of former contactless reader and NFC software vendor Vivotech, purchasing Vivotech’s software unit.
The acquisition brings to an end more than 10 years of business by Vivotech, a pioneering company in the contactless and NFC markets.
Silicon Valley-based Vivotech, which several weeks ago appointed a firm to liquidate its assets, in early August announced it had sold its contactless reader business to U.S.-based ID Tech. As NFC Times reported in late July, Vivotech told employees it planned to cease operations.
Considered by some observers to have hit the NFC market too early, Vivotech had gone through nearly US$100 million in funding it had raised from venture capital firms since its founding in 2001.
Vivotech’s Web site has been redirected to Sequent’s site, and Vivotech’s former president and co-founder, Mohammad Khan, has joined Sequent as general manager and executive vice president of sales.
Sequent said its CEO Drew Weinstein had stepped down and would become a member of the board. Robb Duffield, formerly Sequent's senior vice president of corporate development, would take his place.
With the acquisition, Sequent gets Vivotech’s trusted service management, or TSM, software and likely its mobile wallet software. Sequent announced the acquisition Friday, but did not disclose the price it paid for the Vivotech assets or how many Vivotech employees will join the firm.
Sequent said in its announcement that the acquisition would expand its TSM offer to include provisioning of applications for banks and other services providers in NFC phones. Sequent in the past has offered TSM services only on the secure element side, that is, to mobile operators and other issuers of secure elements. As part of an earlier agreement with Vivotech, it used Vivotech’s TSM platform, at least in part, to offer this secure-element management service.
The expanded service would help Sequent compete with more established TSMs, such as those offered by the four largest smart card vendors worldwide, Gemalto, Oberthur Technologies, Giesecke & Devrient and Safran Morpho. Morpho bought Singapore-based TSM Cassis International this past summer.
But unlike these four TSMs and some others, Vivotech’s TSM had not yet been certified by MasterCard Worldwide and probably not by Visa as of earlier this month, to provision and manage their payment applications. Sequent would need this certification to be able to handle rollouts by banks of MasterCard PayPass and Visa payWave on NFC phones.
Sequent, which sells no cards and has no personalization bureaus, is trying to carve out a niche by positioning itself as a “neutral” TSM as compared with TSM companies that also sell smart cards.
It was founded in 2010 and has received venture capital from Opus Capital, SK Telecom Ventures and Jado Investments, though the firm has not released its total funding.
The company in June told NFC Times it had a staff of 45 persons and expected that to grow to about 75 by the end of the year and had spent about $7.5 million since its founding.
It has won a contract to manage secure elements for U.S. mobile carrier Sprint, for the telco’s planned mobile wallet, NFC Times reported in June.