I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Dong Su Kim, CEO of the Korean Fingerprint Smart Cards developer Korea Smart ID, better known in the market as KSID.
Q: Good morning Mr. Dong Su Kim and thanks for accepting my invitation to have an interview. Let’s start with few info on the company. Can you give us some information about the company and the relation with UNISEM?
A: KSID is a company specializing in biometric based solutions. As of its foundation in 2013, KSID has been focusing on the supply of Fingerprint Smart Cards in both domestic and overseas markets. Unisem, a KOSDAQ listed global provider of semiconductor assembly and testing services, is the mother company of KSID.
Q: How many people are working in KSID?
A: We are working with 30 employees, wherein which the majority of the workforce is deployed in the R&D department.
Q: What is the core business of KSID?
A: At the moment KSID has its core in the Fingerprint Smart Card business. While most of the revenue comes from this market, KSID does have a broader business coverage in the Biometric based Industry. FIDO based TEE solutions, biometric wearables (Fingerprint Smart Watches), and IoT devices that tracks down the location of cargoes in real-time are one of the few.
Q: There is any specific reason why KSID have decided to develop a Biometric Smart Card?
A: KSID was awarded a funding from the Korean Government and among the requirement was to develop a product that could verify user’s identity more securely. In response, we started our development of a Smart Card that could identify each user with their fingerprint data.
Q: Do you have your own smart card factory?
A: Yes. KSID has a manufacturing facility in Taiwan.
Q: KSID won the Instanbul Taxi Drivers project, the ITU Physical and Logical Access Control card project and the Woori Bank Public Access System card project. Why do you think KSID was able to win such prestigious projects?
A: We believe quality was the key. Whenever a new technology or industry is on board, a lot of companies rush into development in the attempt to win the First Comer Advantage. However, when we only focus on presenting the prototype faster than others, trying to get the spotlight form the press, it is difficult to have the product at its best quality. Having this in mind, it was KSID’s decision that we will not move into the market unless we have a product with reliable quality. This decision has allowed us to earn the trust of our clients that KSID products are free from any defects, which lead us to become the first company to commercialize a workable Fingerprint Smart Card in the market.
Q: There is any other Biometric Smart Card project that KSID won recently?
A: The Vietnamese government is currently planning a Smart City Project which has the goal of transforming the city into a secure and big data embedded place. In line with such mission, KSID Fingerprint Smart Cards is expected to be applied for Access Control, Identification, and Payment. One example would be implementing the cards for managing national budgets to make the process more transparent and fraud-free.
Q: You are one of the pioneer of Biometric Smart Cards in Asia and perhaps in the whole world. Why you believe KSID Biometric Cards are so successful?
A: We were successful in reading exactly what the market needs. Nowadays, we see new technologies emerging in a daily basis. People are flooded with news released by the media about the latest innovation in technology and this give us the thought that the world of AI and robots are just around the corner. But no matter how noble the technology, the inevitable fact is that many of these technologies stay as “Abstract Ideas” since it simply doesn’t fit into our current environment.
With the same logic, KSID believed that no product will be embraced by the consumers unless it is highly compatible with our current infrastructure. Thus, made sure that the Fingerprint Smart Card will be workable with the payment terminals, ATMs, and smartphones. This became the strength of our products since users were able to use the cards without making massive changes.
Q: I am sure you learned of Visa started trials with EMV Biometric Payment Cards in Cyprus and USA. Other than EMV Cards, which other business you believe Biometric Cards will be successful?
A: Aside from payment, the ID card industry will be the biggest market. Replacing the current National ID card with Fingerprint Smart Cards will cut down identity theft crimes significantly. An ID card that functions only when the corresponding fingerprint is presented not only increase security levels, but also enable effective management of welfare benefits. Let’s say the Fingerprint Smart Card technology is applied as a Health Card Card. Whenever a patient visits the hospital, getting the benefits for the medical care they received, the card will become a medium that guarantees that the cardholder is indeed the person who they claim to be. This shall allow citizens to get the benefits allocated to each individual without any discrepancies.
Q: Is KSID developing any new biometric smart card product?
A: KSID is under the development of a new Fingerprint Smart Card that has an additional display on the card surface. This will enhance user’s convenience by having the transaction records & balance displayed right on the screen of the card.
Q: How KSID Biometric Smart Card technology and product proposition differentiate from other players?
A: KSID products are the only Fingerprint Smart Card with quality certificates. Many companies have announced its intention to develop a Fingerprint Smart Card and some have been able to complete development. However, KSID cards are the only product that has received Quality Certificates from authorized entities.
KSID cards have received various patents (KR 10-1749144, KR 10-1669012, 10-1690989) and certificates for the algorithms and capacity of defending forged fingerprints. In 2016 November, KSID has awarded a Financial IC Quality Certificate from the Korea Financial Telecommunications & Clearing Institute. This certificate was provided to guarantee the quality of our products after going through 20 testing criteria such as bending, torsion, and side channel attack blocking. Moreover, currently KSID is the only company that has been able to supply Fingerprint Smart Cards in mass quantities.
Thank you Mr. Kim for the interview and I look forward to see new and exciting KSID Biometric Cards soon on the market.