Startup Corner: iProov

FStech catches up with Andrew Bud, founder and CEO of iProov, to find out more about this authentication focused startup.

What made you set up iProov in 2011?
Ten years ago I was chairman of leading SMS and mobile payments provider mBlox. There, I learned how important it is to protect users with good authentication which is also usable. There were not any solutions yet on the market that were good enough for the new generation of mobile services, so I had to invent one. The means, opportunity and motive for a great company were there, and so iProov came into being.

Authentication and fraud are continually making headlines in the financial world and beyond. Which technologies are you using to stay ahead of fraudsters?
Authentication and the fight against fraud is an arms race, in which data is the raw material. So we make extensive use of the latest machine learning techniques, coupled with the immense library of data we have compiled over the last five years. We have great respect for the intelligence and ingenuity of the fraudsters, so we have to work hard to stay ahead of them.

Do you develop all technologies and products in-house?
We develop all our technology in-house in the UK, mostly in our London offices. The accumulating know-how of our team is a crucial asset, both against our competitors and against those who attack our system. Our ability to learn, to understand new threats and to respond quickly is dependent on our tight-knit, loyal team of outstanding staff. You cannot outsource or offshore that.

Do you have any new products on the horizon?
We have a packed roadmap of innovations, both strategic and incremental, to sustain our product leadership. But focus is crucial to our success, so we are not planning to dabble in any other people’s businesses. Instead we focus on making our effortless, cross-platform authentication experience more secure and applicable in more contexts.

Do you provide services just in the financial sector?
Good lord no! The amazing thing about what we do is that it is valuable in absolutely every usage context. We solve one of the most profound problems of the online economy that affects everybody. It happens that the financial sector has enormous expertise and also tremendous regulatory pressure to get authentication right, and is at a moment of intense innovation, so it is naturally one of the leading markets. But the public sector, e-commerce, mobile apps and the whole world of CIOs are all future users. To reach such a vast spread of markets, of course we must partner. So partnership lies at the very heart of our strategy. And one of our customers, Facecrypt, is even serving the consumer market.

What funding and support have you received? And what have the funds been used for?
We have received extraordinary support from InnovateUK, the innovation agency of the British government. Numerous hard earned grants for cutting-edge projects, won in highly competitive, independent assessments, have enabled us to do something quite special – develop world leading technology to maturity whilst starting up. It is something almost unique to the UK. That led to great support from a growing group of supportive private investors. We do not make a lot of noise about that – after all commercial success is about selling to customers, not to investors, but we are delighted that they share our belief in this business.

What growth has the firm experienced over the past five years?
Five years ago we were a couple of guys working nights and weekends on a shoestring to find out if a big, cool idea could be made real. Now we have a team of nearly 20 brilliant, loyal staff; eight patents granted in the US, UK and overseas; customers we have won against some of the most respected competitors in the world; the support of Microsoft through their Accelerator programme; numerous awards from organisations like the NCSC, Citi, KPMG and Sony; and a live, scaleable, world class platform in production worldwide. But I always remind my team that building a business is like climbing a mountain: we keep our eyes fixed on the summit, and if we do occasionally look down to see how far we’ve come, we never let it distract us from the focus needed on the path ahead.

Where do you see iProov in five years’ time?
iProov will be a verb. Used by a billion people, to make every aspect of their online lives easier and safer.

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