Biometric firm gets fingers on funding

Thursday, December 1, 2005

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.-- Privaris, a wireless biometric technology firm, secured $15.7 million in venture financing last month. The funding will be used to introduce the company's second-generation wireless keychain device, which uses fingerprint-based biometrics, as well as expand sales and marketing activities throughout North America.
The funding round was led by Harbert Venture Partners with participation from Noro-Moseley Partners, River Cities Capital Funds, SpaceVest Capital and the company's existing investors. This is the first institutional funding for the company, established in 2001 as Transforming Technologies, that to date has been funded by private individuals. The name was changed in October 2002 to better reflect its approach to maintain privacy as its wireless device stores data only on the keychain, not in a database, to decrease ID theft, said Steve McDorman, vice president of commercial systems at Privaris.
Privaris' logical and physical access products are already at production level. In 2003, the company established an OEM relationship with ASSA ABBLOY's Sargent and Corbin Russwin divisions. With the funding, the company will add capabilities to the biometric device, BPID, a wireless, battery-operated handheld electronic key that authenticates users with fingerprint biometrics before authorizing access to secure facilities, personal identity, financial documents and password-restricted equipment, for example. The new unit will be engineered to offer a contactless payment solution, a technique in transactions that has gained speed in the commercial and financial markets, said.
"The biometric never leaves the device," McDorman said. "This is certainly what people prefer."
The next generation product is expected to be available in the first or second quarter of 2006.
Privaris has two locations, an engineering facility in Charlottesville, Va., and an office in Fairfax, Va., just outside of Washington.
The company employs 16, but with the support from venture capital funding plans to expand its engineering department in the coming months.