Tricubes set to tap new ICT solutions


  • Business
  • Monday, 14 Apr 2003

BY YVONNE CHONG

TRICUBES Computers Sdn Bhd, best known for its participation in the government multipurpose card (GMPC) project, is poised to capitalise in one of the fastest growth areas in the information and communication technology (ICT) market – enterprise mobile solutions. 

Its chief executive Khairun Zainal Mokhtar said the company aimed to hit at least RM80mil in turnover this year and half of it was expected to come from enterprise mobile solutions.  

The balance will come from its two other core focus – secure access solution (30%) and electronic payment system (20%). 

Last year, Tricubes revenue was at RM12mil. In 2001, it was RM47mil, mostly from the MyKad national smart card project. 

Tricubes may be small but it has positioned itself as a niche player in the area of enterprise mobile solutions and secured, says Khairun Zainal Mokhtar.

“I think this year would be a very good year for us. The prospect list we had built the past two years is maturing. I see contracts materialising, especially in the areas of secure access and enterprise mobile solutions,” Khairun said. 

“We had one anchor project in 2001. But now, our strategy to build commercial-based applications has given us some successes, that without revenue from the national smart card project, we still managed to do RM12mil last year. This year it's going to be a bit more balanced. There would still be some revenue from national smart card projects, but there are also other commercial projects.”  

Tricubes aims to be listed on the Mesdaq market in August or September this year. The company, valued at RM50mil, has shareholders funds of RM7.5mil, and plans to raise RM20mil-RM25mil from its initial public offering. It has a staff of 72, of whom more than 40 are engineers. 

Tricubes is the holding company for EPNCR (M) Sdn Bhd, which holds 20% equity in GMPC Corp Sdn Bhd, the consortium that was awarded the GMPC project, now known as MyKad. 

Khairun said when Tricubes first started on the national smart card project, it had already resolved it would not be a single purpose company. 

“We had looked at the business requirements of MyKad and thought of how we could replicate the success in MyKad that would be very viable commercially. If we had built a single purpose MyKad reader, we would have to wait for all the national ID projects to grow, and there are not many of those out there. While promoting national ID and MyKad readers, we built applications for the mobile workforce,” he said. 

According to Khairun, Tricubes has in its product offering the hardware and the applications catering to the mobile workforce. And it is now developing the middleware (software that connects two otherwise separate applications) to enable enterprises to extend their applications to the mobile workforce. 

“We're finalising the architecture and design of the Tricubes Mobile Middleware Solutions (TMMS), and we target to have the first version of TMMS released by July this year,” Khairun said, adding that Tricubes had recently received RM5mil funding from Maybank Ventures for that purpose. 

The TMMS suite of applications is to address the needs of the business to employee (B2E) segment of the enterprise mobile solutions market. It is a logical framework to allow mobile devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and other handheld devices to communicate over the wide area network (WAN) to back office systems, thus extending the corporations' enterprise applications to those on the move. 

“We're a company with proven results, proven technologies and a strong list of customers. We have a strong record,” Khairun said, adding that the GMPC project was Tricubes' first and most important reference site. 

The GMPC enables the police, im- migration and national registration department mobile workforce to access information online.  

Khairun said that adoption was slow because it took time to train blue-collar workers in new technology. 

“For example, courier firm DHL took quite a while to train all their mobile workforce to use mobile devices but once they got used to them, they realised the benefits. The operation was so much more efficient,” he said. 

Several thousands of Tricubes handheld computers, Tricubes 1020, have been deployed to government enforcement agencies under the first trench of the project, making it the world's largest deployed fleet of wireless mobile authentication devices. 

Khairun said Tricubes might be small but it had positioned itself as a niche player in the area of enterprise mobile solutions and secured access, and it worked with partners to push its products.  

Its representative office in Paris has been getting lots of enquiry on its national ID and secure access solutions. Overseas business currently contributes less than 10% to Tricubes' total turnover, but it hopes the portion will grow to 25%-30% by the end of next year. 

The Tricubes 1020 secure mobile platform was chosen as the device of choice for the pilot project of the Hong Kong SAR smart identity card project (Smartics). The main contractor for the project, Pacific Cyber Works Business eSolutions, had in December contracted Tricubes to supply Tricubes 1020 handheld computers as well as to develop the interface applications for the pilot implementation of the project. The Smartics project has been projected to go live in July. 

“Our 13 partners in Europe are starting to promote national ID type of projects in their countries. After Sept 11, everyone thinks national ID is cool. But like any government project, it will take time. However, we’re in the Hong Kong ID project. And via one of our large European partners, we've been shortlisted to tender for the Saudi Arabia national ID project,” Khairun said. 

Meanwhile, Tricubes' Tripaq has been adopted in three European cities via the Clip Card Parking Ticket system. The Clip Card application enables traffic wardens to write offence data and issue summons via Tripaq plus the Compaq iPaq. Tripaq, an expansion sleeve for Compaq’s iPaq Pocket PC, features a smart card reader coupled with a dual band GSM/GPRS wireless module and an additional battery. The Tripaq prototype was released in September and supplied to its first customer, Clip Card in January. 

Khairun said that locally the police, National Registration Department and Immigration Department would also be using Tripaq

Tricubes has been aggressively marketing Tripaq locally to specific markets with mobile workforce such as insurance, claim adjusters and other organisations with a sales force, and has received good response. 

“If you're a mobile worker, the Tripaq is not that big to carry. It is our foray into the data collection mobile market. If you want additional security, we have the slightly larger Tricubes 1020,” he said. 

More than 250 orders for the Tricubes 1020 had been received over the last three months, while Tripaq had orders of over 200 units. Among Tricubes 1020 customers are Maybank and Bank Pertanian for mobile banking applications. 

Its third core business, the electronic payment system, is a trading business for Tricubes, according to Khairun. 

It does not design or develop the hardware but value adds in terms of applications and services. 

“Currently, our biggest clients for the merchant terminals are the government and Affin-Bank, but we hope that with the recently launched smartcard bankcards and MEPS Cash acceptance our electronic payment system will grow too,” he said. 

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