Triton Secure on the auction block

Biometrics business Triton Secure is on the auction block following the slide of parent company Triton Corp into voluntary administration this week.

Administrator John Lindholm of insolvency specialist Ferrier Hodgson said he is looking for expressions of interest in Triton Secure. One party that might hold up its hand is Rofin Australia, a Triton Secure creditor and one of the leaders in the biometrics market.

Before the holding company decided to pull the plug this week, Triton Secure was being managed under contract by Rofin, which was also a value-added reseller of Triton's fingerprint scanners.

"Basically, it went down because it had a mining management mentality," claimed Rofin Australia director Sachlan Fraval.

A 30-employee company turning over $25 million annually, Rofin's divisions embrace forensic technologies, biometrics and light transmission guides.

Triton Corp, a resources-cum-technology play, was preceded into administration two weeks ago by its wholly owned subsidiary, cabling and network infrastructure provider Yost Technology.

The holding company's directors decided to follow suit and appoint an independent administrator because of the uncertainty generated by Yost's position and the subsequent suspension of publicly listed Triton Corp from trading.

Triton Secure was making little headway in a biometrics market that has yet to take off in Australia. It misjudged the market by venturing too heavily into biometrics too early, claims Hans Axmacher, chairman of competing biometrics specialist Swe-Tech.

Vendors like Swe-Tech and Rofin believe the biometrics market is on the verge of explosive growth and say interest is growing dramatically, though it is yet to be converted to sales.

Until now, vendors have found it difficult to capture corporate attention. The biometrics message was lost in the noise generated by the Y2K bug then hampered by the slow take-up of public key infrastructure and digital certificates.

As well, customers have proved resistant to replacing free password-style security with more expensive biometric devices such as fingerprint readers.

Swe-Tech's Axmacher says business is more interested in integrated biometrics solutions than standalone hardware devices. He believes success depends on strategic alliances that deliver complete solutions, including biometrics hardware, smartcards, digital signatures and firewalls.

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