Digital passport: enCaps anticipates European regulation (and raises 1.6 million euros)

To promote the circular economy, combat planned obsolescence, and provide information on repair or recycling options: these are the objectives of the future « Digital Product Passport » (DPP) desired by the European Commission. Initially intended for textile products, electronic devices, and car batteries, the DPP aims to provide consumers with transparent and detailed information on the traceability, sustainability, and materials used in each product. It also aims to assist recyclers by informing them about the components and help authorities ensure compliance with European standards.

The technological solution developed by the Montpellier-based startup enCaps, founded in the spring of 2022 by three entrepreneurs, could potentially address this future requirement, although it currently addresses other issues. Pascal Jardé, Vincent Anselmo, and Antoine Janning, who have previously been involved in entrepreneurship, particularly with companies Octipas (specializing in point-of-sale digitalization) and Moonify (whose platform aimed to harness and aggregate the processing power of video game users’ computers in exchange for gaming credits), announced on October 16th that they have raised 1.6 million euros.

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Alignement des planètes

« With the crash of cryptocurrencies (and therefore a necessary pivot for Moonify, Editor’s note), we have envisioned how to make the use of blockchain tangible for objects and decided to create a dedicated new company, enCaps, explains Pascal Jardé to La Tribune. To secure the QR code, which is not very difficult to hack, we have developed an augmented QR code, meaning a QR code equipped with a proprietary code whose encryption algorithm is not disclosed… However, there are two subjects that align well for enCaps: Europe demonstrates the interest in identifying each product through a digital passport that will be mandatory, and at the same time, the GS1 protocol, which establishes barcodes on products, is working to replace them with QR codes (more efficient as they contain more information, Editor’s note). »

Avec la « capsule » numérique sécurisée conçue par enCaps et brevetée, chaque objet (physique ou virtuel) peut se voir apposer un passeport numérique et être enregistré sur une base de données traditionnelle ou sur la blockchain, le QR code augmenté permettant décodage par tout type de smartphone connecté à internet.

« I cannot reword »

Sécurité, authenticité, propriété

The European regulations on the digital passport for products may become mandatory starting from 2026 (but this could change), and the technologies to be adopted to link products and digital passports have not yet been specified. However, while waiting for the opening of this market for the application of its enhanced QR code, the solution developed by enCaps can already help solve other problems, such as authenticity or proof of ownership, and enable new services to improve logistics, delivery, or property transfers.

« I cannot reword »

L’apposition du QR code augmenté peut ainsi permettre de tracer les vélos volés ou de sécuriser des clés de jeux vidéo pour éviter qu’elles soient revendues à un prix déloyal sur Internet.

« What we are telling our clients today is that it can be beneficial to turn this future obligation into an opportunity as it allows for opening a communication channel or implementing new services, » Pascal Jardé emphasizes. « The range of possible uses is significant. »

The fundraising of 1.6 million euros, supported by Bpifrance for half of it, was carried out with private investors and entrepreneurs specialized in the world of video games and digital, who saw an interest in this secure digital capsule. Among them are Christophe Carniel (co-founder and CEO of Vogo), Régis Bonnessée (creator of the game Dixit), Pierre Ortolan (senior vice-president of Asmodee Group, publisher and distributor of digital games), Jérémy Zeler-Maury (CEO of Midgar Studio, video game publisher), and Gaël Bonnafous (former founder of video game publisher Scimob, acquired by Webedia in 2016, and founder of Elia Games in January 2020).

« I cannot reword »

Mobilité, luxe, art et jeux vidéo

Avec cette levée de fonds, enCaps veut propulser sa solution sur le marché, précédent ainsi la nouvelle règlementation européenne : « On prépare le terrain et on sera capables de changer de braquet quand l’Europe dira quoi mettre dans le passeport numérique », promet Pascal Jardé.

The startup has four main target markets: mobility (bicycles and automobiles), luxury, art, and video games. Among its initial clients is Bee-cycle, a French company that offers a bike-sharing and long-term rental service for businesses. Bee-cycle has enlisted enCaps to enable various stakeholders (bike fleet managers, bike preparers, end users) to access the necessary information for the smooth operation of the service by scanning the augmented QR code on each bike.

The startup also mentions having signed a contract with a prominent player in the automotive industry, whose name they are keeping confidential. « Our goal is to create the digital passport for vehicles, which will include at least the maintenance log. This already exists, but we are putting it on the blockchain. And in the future, we may even consider including the entire car ecosystem, such as insurance and registration. »

The company also plans to launch, by the end of the year, Point Nexus, a platform specifically designed for the gaming industry, in response to the needs of its partner Plug In Digital and other studios and publishers: to control the distribution of video game keys sold on online stores and thus limit the « grey market ».

« I cannot reword »

Le modèle économique de enCaps repose sur le volume d’émissions de capsules : « Plus vous en prenez, moins elles coûtent cher et dans certains cas, il peut y avoir partage de revenus. En retour, nous nous engageons à maintenir la capsule à vie et à la faire vivre via la plateforme informatique », explique Pascal Jardé.

The new financial resources allocated to the startup will enable it to boost its teams: « We are going from three to a large dozen of people and we will double by the first quarter of 2024, with technical and commercial profiles. We aim for an infrastructure that is globally scalable from the start, which requires considerable efforts to have short response times and therefore technological investments, computer development, and server infrastructure. »

The startup will showcase its technological solutions at the CES in Las Vegas in January 2024.

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Cécile Chaigneau

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