A COMPANY that manufactures smartcards has created nearly 50 jobs and is forecasting increased sales following a year of investment and expansion.

G2 Integrated Solutions, part of the Moneybox Group, develops cards that are used for cashless payment, security and storing personal information. It has recruited staff at three of its operations during the past year. Its work with schools tackling childhood obesity by helping to control what children eat has been a key market development for the company.

Growing awareness of smartcards, which can also be used to control access to libraries, cinemas and pay for school meals, means G2 has seen significant growth in the past year.

The company has had a base in City Road, Newcastle, since 1987, employing 48 people.

It is G2's operational centre, housing customer service, sales order processing, help desk support, training, field engineering management, finance, marketing and software development.

G2 has 150 permanent staff and other offices in London and High Wycombe, as well as a factory near Cardiff.

Its client list includes Halifax Bank of Scotland, Unilever and London Metropolitan University, as well as Newcastle NHS Trust, Newcastle University and schools across the region.

The company said it was unable to provide precise growth figures until its results in June.

But G2 managing director John Lees said: "2004 enabled us to progressively pursue the marketplace. Our investment in not only product development, but also back office support, we believe, sets us apart from other application providers."

Parent company Moneybox plc is a cash machine and payment services company listed on the London Stock Exchange.