Whether you are enjoying a night out, checking out at the supermarket, or catching a flight, your need to show your ID card. But with a move towards digital wallets, the age of digital ID cards has finally arrived. Introducing Yoti, the most secure way to prove your identity online and in person. It’s free app that securely verifies your identity and it’s all-digital, sitting on your phone. Expanding its reach to target applications in the healthcare, cinema, gaming and dating spaces, Yoti replaces the hassle of forgetting your ID while also keeping it safe from being stolen.
London TechWatch sat down with founder Robin Tombs to learn more about the company, its vision, origin, future plans and its most recent of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
The investors were the founders, serial entrepreneurs, and other successful high net worth investors. The funding round raised £8m, which followed an earlier funding round of £3m in June 2017. The company’s post-money valuation after this latest round is £65 million.
The stock type was common, or ordinary, shares as we call them.
Tell us about your product or service.
Yoti is a free app for consumers that lets people prove their identity to businesses, and prove their age on nights out and at supermarket self-checkouts. Yoti can also be used to verify the details of people online – a simple and safe way to help protect people from scams as fraudsters don’t like revealing their true identity. Consumers can even use Yoti’s password manager to login securely to websites without having to remember passwords.
The app is available for iOS and Android phones and takes less than five minutes to set up. Users take a selfie and scan a photo ID with their smartphone to create their digital identity. Yoti uses both facial recognition technology and a security team based in the UK to match individuals to their photo IDs and to verify the integrity of the information provided.
For businesses, Yoti is an identity platform, which provides a faster, simpler and safer way to verify the identity of their customers for KYC purposes. It’s also a biometric multi-factor authentication system, helping to keep businesses’ websites and customer information secure.
What inspired you to start the company?
My co-founder Duncan Francis and I were at a Spartan Race in 2014, where 10,000 people were queueing to register with passports and driving licenses. The process was long, outdated and a potential security risk, with people leaving valuable ID documents in a tent during the race. There was clearly a better way of checking who people were.
There’s also been an increasing number of data hacks over the last few years, putting more people than ever at risk of identity theft and fraud. Putting individuals in control of their personal data is key to the future of the digital economy.
We saw an opportunity to harness the growth and advancements in biometric technologies and increasing smartphone usage to develop a digital identity solution that could be used both online and in person. And hey presto, Yoti was born.
How is it different?
We have transformed personal biometrics and ID documents, such as passports and driving licenses, into a secure digital identity – giving individuals a simpler and safer way to prove their identity in many different scenarios.
Keeping data safe is our highest priority. To protect every piece of personal information trusted to us – whether it be a photo, date of birth or address – we scramble it with advanced hybrid encryption and store each piece of data separately. There’s no single honeypot of data to hack. The private key that unlocks the data is stored on each user’s device. Nobody else, not even Yoti, can access this. We’re a tech company that truly puts the users in control of their data.
We also encourage companies to ask for less information because Yoti let users prove individual bits of information instead of needing to share their whole ID document. This means someone could just show their photo and date of birth to prove their age, rather than revealing unnecessary information like their address or passport number. This promotes a data minimisation approach and helps protect people from the ever-growing risk of identity fraud.
We’ve appointed a Guardian council who ensure we are always acting in the best interests of our users and that we stay consistent with our mission to build trust and give the user control of their personal data. We’re also one of the UK’s first certified B Corps. B Corp businesses are required to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. We’re very proud to be a B Corp and many of the team are passionate about working for a company that is committed to long term values.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We have spoken to businesses across a range of sectors to see whether we could help them with their current identity verification challenges. We’ve had significant interest from a number of industries including retail, cinemas, recruitment, finance, gaming, online dating, classifieds and healthcare.
We also accept passports from over 140 countries, meaning we can offer Yoti to businesses and individuals worldwide. It’s a global solution and we are responding to the interest Yoti is attracting from businesses worldwide.
What’s your business model?
Yoti is a free app for individuals. We make money by charging businesses a small fee to check the identity details of their customers. Most businesses already pay to do identity verification and background checks where they might only get 80% matches. That’s not as good as being able to offer 100% match, which is also cheaper than other identity providers.
The design of our database means that only individual users can access their data. Therefore we will not sell user data to third parties because we cannot access the data.
How do you solve the fragmentation problem associated with digital identity verification?
To solve the fragmented identity challenge, it was vital that Yoti is a ubiquitous solution – something individuals could use in a variety of places. The more businesses and venues that accept and recognise Yoti, the more valuable Yoti becomes to consumers.
So we give individuals a free digital identity which they create just once but can then use time and time again, both online and in person. Yoti is a cross sector identity verification solution. Wherever you see the Yoti symbol you can prove your identity with your phone and the touch of a button, whether it’s online or in person. They can use Yoti to prove their age on nights out, when buying age restricted items, and to prove their identity to businesses.
The app can be used free of charge by any individual who wants to verify the identity of people they meet online. This means Yoti can also help make online dating safer, reduce fraud on holiday rental sites and give greater confidence in any online interaction between two people. Both people just need to download Yoti and then choose which details they’d like to swap – there’s no reliance on the website to integrate Yoti.
Yoti can also be used to login securely to websites without having to remember passwords. We’re giving everyone a simpler and safer way to prove their identity and protect themselves from everyday issues which cost time, money and emotional distress.
What was the funding process like?
The investors of the funding round were the founders, serial entrepreneurs and other successful high net worth investors so it was a fairly straightforward process. The funding round raised £8m, giving Yoti a valuation of £65m.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
The funding round followed a successful launch in November 2017 along with increasing traction amongst businesses and consumers. We’ve had some great milestones over recent months, which gave investors the confidence to support the funding round.
- Over 300,000 people have now installed the app, including 75,000 in December alone from over 126 countries
- Deltic, the UK’s largest nightclub chain, confirmed it would be rolling Yoti out across its venues nationwide
- We’re also working with Worldpay, NSPCC, Axa Healthcare, NHS Ipswich Hospital, Jagermeister, Capita, Reed and Freeads
- A successful marketing video campaign which received over 20 million views
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
This funding round will be used to grow our consumer network, with an aim of reaching two million users during 2018. We’ll see more businesses start to use Yoti, and we’ll also be launching in India in the next few months. It’s going to be a busy time for us.
What advice can you offer companies in London that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Recently we’ve seen more startups raise funds through crowdfunding campaigns, which can be a good way to get a number of people to support your business and get a cash injection.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We recently announced our partnership with Deltic, the UK’s largest nightclub with 7m visitors annually, who will be accepting Yoti as proof of age across their venues nationwide. We’re also gearing up for pilots with two of the UK’s largest supermarkets which we’re very excited about.
What is your favorite restaurant in London?
I like the Mint Leaf in Piccadilly and of course, you can’t beat a good Sunday Roast at home.