CIA's venture arm backs mobile banking, NFC developer

In-Q-Tel will invest in Tyfone, which is based in Portland, Oregon.

In-Q-Tel, the technology investment arm of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), will invest in Tyfone, a small developer of mobile banking, identity management and near-field communication systems.

The size of the investment was not disclosed.

Although the investment doesn't come with the guarantee that Tyfone's technology will be adopted by the U.S. government, that possibility was hinted at in a joint statement announcing the deal.

"We believe that Tyfone's technology has the potential to address a wide range of complex government and commercial secure identity challenges," Jay Emmanuel, technology vice president at In-Q-Tel, was quoted as saying.

Tyfone, which is based in Portland, Oregon, was established in 2004 and counts some regional U.S. credit unions among its current customers. The company is close to closing its latest round of venture funding, expected to be between $5 million and $10 million, according to a company spokeswoman.

In-Q-Tel, based in Arlington, Virginia, close to the CIA's headquarters, exists to identify innovative technology and work on possible adoption of those technologies by the U.S. intelligence community. It also has offices in Menlo Park, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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