FireID, the Stellenbosch-based secure authentication software developer, is set to enter the US market with its cell phone-based one-time password solution.
FireID's software token provides secure, convenient and easy to install authentication for multiple vectors.
FireID will launch its US presence at the RSA Conference, the world's leading information security conference, held from 20 to 24 April in San Francisco.
"We believe the US could become our prime market," says Jenny Dugmore, CEO of FireID, formerly Fireflight. "We have based that view on the rapid uptake of similar products in the US."
While the US market is less progressive than South Africa in the cell phone arena, it is becoming increasingly receptive to more sophisticated mobile security solutions.
This has prompted FireID to act fast: "We have a narrow window of opportunity," says Dugmore. "Customers are indicating that a mobile authentication system is high on their agenda for 2009."
FireID has led the way in South Africa, growing rapidly and enjoying substantial market penetration. Unlike conventional authentication systems, FireID doesn't require costly hardware like key fobs, and while it generates passwords on a cell phone, they are not sent via SMS over the air, so they cannot be intercepted. FireID eliminates the need to remember multiple passwords and there is a specific build for each phone type, ensuring a consistent look and feel.
The FireID team views the RSA Conference as a means to position the product and identify sales and marketing channels.
FireID's competitors in the US market are in the main hardware token vendors and while they do have a soft token option, they have a large hardware token customer base to protect. Providing a less costly software token is not necessarily an attractive option.
Apart from tackling competitors, strong brand identity is crucial for any company in an unfamiliar market. FireID found that naming the company after its key product when registering it in the US has brought the brand closer to its core business.
While the US may be the starting point, it's just the first step in FireID's global rollout, which includes Australia and the UK.
For now, though, Dugmore believes it is a market well worth moving into: "Taking just a small slice of the US secure authentication market is massive in South African terms and well worth our investment."