Interview with Bart Visser from CardImpulz6 min read
First off thank you for taking time to get involved in this interview for our readers.
We had a somewhat random meet up in a local shopping mall with our kids playing together, and we got chatting and soon realised we were in a similar position being Malaysian expats who work online.
After exchanging phone numbers we met up in a local co-working space where we spend time working on our businesses. We regularly catch up over coffee and dinner and recently discovered just how small the world is as we have a mutual friend – Mike from Global From Asia
Your business is based in China and you supply customers around the world. I am keen to understand bit more about what you do and how you ended up in Malaysia!
So, thanks again Bart – let’s jump straight into this with my first question.
1. I have never met so many Dutch people, there really seems to be lot of you guys in Malaysia. Can you give us a little background information on you? For example, where you’re from.
Well Malaysia is a good place to be, so it’s no wonder so many Europeans in general, moving and staying here. Penang’s always been a trading port with a lot of development and opportunities, which attracts Foreign professionals.
The Dutch specifically have always been an adventurous people, looking for trade, opportunities etc. I guess that’s one of the reasons why so many of us are here.
I am originally from a very small city in the Netherlands (Hindeloopen), but we moved here from Shenzhen, an extremely large city in China. This is also where my company is based. Reason we moved to Penang is to relax and start planning early retirement😊
2. Location independent work gives greater flexibility on where you settle. You have only recently moved to Malaysia (6 months now I think), but what made you decide to up and move to Malaysia with your family?
Since mid-June, so only 3 months so far.
We are very fortunate with the way our company is set-up. We have highly motivated colleagues on the ground in China, who enable me to work remote. Settling in Malaysia feels good, it’s a pleasant, family-friendly country in South East Asia.
My wife’s Malaysian, and we have been coming here very often, which makes it easier to re-locate here.
But the number one reason is our son, who had to start school. The environment here is great for kids (at least Penang is), plus the level of education in Malaysia is good. Which compared to where we used to life (a busy, crowded, expensive and polluted city) is a huge improvement.
3. Your business is based in China, CardImpulz, which manufactures plastic cards anything from membership, photo ID to smart cards. How did you first get into this line of work?
The city of Shenzhen is a very special city; it’s been the world’s factory for years. When I first arrived as a Hotel management trainee in 2006, I worked in a hotel where I got the opportunity to meet so many different guests, who all worked for/at interesting companies/industries.
Business professionals who all had a story to tell, managed big departments or their own company. So, when my contract at the hotel finished, I was hired by one of these professionals, who then gave me the opportunity to start on my own 2 years later.
4. It’s popular now to think of remote working and business running on a 4-hour week. How do you find running your business remotely and how hands-on are you with the business?
I do not think 4 hr working week is realistic in my line of work.
Our customers are located worldwide, and many of their projects require fast responses. So even though my working hours are flexible, I am always working.
I personally still check every single order placed with us before and after production.
5. I find it interesting that remote working and online business can be very flexible in terms of working hours. Yet, I like to have a routine and I know you do too.
Exactly, humans need a routine, especially when you have a family, own a business and are re-locating to another country. So now we’re settled down, and all the personal and family cases have been taken care of, I can focus more on the business again.
6. The most popular products you handle involve contactless or RFID cards. With the rise of contactless (NFC) via smartphones do you think this poses a challenge to smart cards in the future.
Yes, it does. But it also offers opportunities. The NFC function in your smartphone is actually a smart card reader. NFC smart cards (or tags, fobs, wristbands etc.) could therefore become a sophisticated tool for companies to interact with customers.
7. I see that you do environmental (green) cards. Have you seen a big uptake from companies looking to be more thoughtful on plastic usage?
Slightly, although the price for non-plastic cards is often still too much for customers. There are alternatives available made by corn or potato starch, however the cost compared to standard PVC plastics is still too high.
We are however developing a product line of cards using durable paper.
8. The contactless technology you work with is incredibly versatile and seems like the options are limitless. What has been your most difficult order or most unusual in terms of design or functionality?
We supply the access control cards to a well-known international racing federation, which every season hosts multiple races worldwide. Each individual race needs thousands of cards divided over many different designs (access cards, staff, VIP, press etc.).
Each card is unique with dedicated encoding, allowing access to all or part of that specific race premises. Starting this job up every year is a bit of work, and it definitely was a challenge the first time we did it.
Besides those projects, we produce ID cards for several countries that require a great level of confidentiality and security. Not only in production, but also during pre-production and shipping to our customers.
9. So, what’s next for your business, any projects on the boil that you can discuss here?
We are developing our own new and innovative NFC solutions, which will appeal to individual consumers and businesses directly. The possibilities with NFC are almost limitless, there’s not an industry for which you cannot develop a solution.
Our own products are being designed at the moment; the target is to release these together with the new website by the end of this year.