Spectra Systems shrugs off pandemic with revenue gain

Banknote authentication specialist Spectra Systems boosted its 2020 revenues by 11 per cent, despite the impact of pandemic lockdowns on cash purchases.

Spectra provides covert markers for banknotes, as well as sensor systems that are used to detect counterfeit notes at high speeds by banks, as well as various brand protection technologies for products.

The sales hike to $14.7m last year came off the back of rising demand for security features including covert materials at one of its central bank customers as well as sensor equipment sales and funding to develop a new generation of sensors due to reach the market in 2024.

The company's chief executive Nabil Lawandy said that it is in line to make more than $50m from sensor sales in the 2019 to 2025 timeframe.

Spectra's authentications business accounted for the bulk of revenues at just over $13m in 2020 driven by sales of covert materials and associated equipment and service, optical and security phosphor materials and licence royalties.

The company sells covert materials directly to one major world central bank and indirectly to 19 other central banks through our supply and licensing agreements with a major banknote supplier and printer which pays a licence royalty for the exclusive rights to our technology.

Colour-shifting film: A proven, anti-counterfeiting solution for brand protection and product authentication

"The production of fully printed banknotes with our…first in the industry, machine-readable and highly transparent polymer banknote substrate has allowed us to engage potential licensees as well as potential central bank customers," said Spectra.

Other highlights in the year included the continued rollout of Spectra's TruBrand taggant-based smartphone technology to a major tobacco manufacturer in China, with the technology used in 6 to 10 million units each year.

"Testing required for larger volume sales per annum has been delayed by the COVID-19 situation in China," said the company.

"We are confident that once these production tests are completed, we will have the potential for sales in the billions of tobacco packs per year."

The company has also been working with Toray Industries on a new family of smartphone-readable packaging films for use in the brand authentication market where print is not an option, targeting brands like Apple, tobacco group BAT, cosmetics giant Estee Lauder, and vape manufacturer Juul.

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