RFID, bar-coding technology get funding in SA

The Argil Venture Capital Fund has invested over R6 million (US$860,277) in Industrial Fingerprinting Solutions (IFS) -- a technology company which has designed a system aimed at combating fraud and theft, and clamping down on illegal imports.

The IFS solution aims to allow the tracking, tracing and authentication of individual products, which are labelled with two-dimensional barcodes or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags.

The Argil Venture Capital Fund intends to invest R100 million in technology-based companies that offer unique, proprietary products and high growth potential. The investors in Argil are Ernst & Young, The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Worldwide African Investment Holdings.

"IFS offers a solution that actively addresses global problems," says Saul Cohen, fund manager at Argil Venture Capital. "We have received a large amount of interest from potential clients, multinational companies and government organizations, confirming that the company meets our investment criteria, particularly that of high growth potential."

"Argil's funds will be used to finance the growth of the local business through channel partners, and the launch of IFS's unique product into the international market," continues Cohen.

"Clients apply a two-dimensional encrypted code or RFID tag to each item, and then register the item on the independent, central IFS database," says Daan Davis, MD and inventor of the IFS system. "Attributes of each item can then easily be updated on the database. Product attributes can include product code, expiry date, batch number and legal recipient, whether it is in transit, has been stolen, or items that have been earmarked as government stock and are, therefore, not for resale," he adds.

The item can either be scanned or authenticated at each point in the supply chain, or the system can be effectively utilized by law enforcement agencies such as the police and customs officials, Davis continues. The IFS solution has tangible logistical benefits and is highly effective in combating counterfeiting, theft, fraud, false warranty claims, round-tripping and unnecessary product recalls (specific defective units can be recalled rather than all the units in circulation), he adds.

For example, during the elections held in SA (South Africa) recently, where issues of security and integrity were crucial, IFS developed exclusive 2D barcodes for the IEC's sophisticated inkpads and marking pens. According to Davis, this system ensured logistics management of stock to all voting stations, and allowed for ease of tracking of any potential stolen or lost items.

Interest in the system is expanding globally. "In fact, parties in Europe interested in becoming distributors for IFS have already approached us, and negotiations are underway in this regard," says Davis.

"Clearly they too see the value proposition for clients across all industries including the pharmaceutical, luxury goods, tire, motor vehicle and components, asset management, FMCG, software, CDs and DVDs, appliances, security, and logistics industries," concludes Cohen.

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