Someone once said that cinema is either American or not really cinema at all. Something similar happens in software manufacturing. Emerging countries are certainly making excellent progress: e-commerce projects like the giant Alibaba and the monstrous WeChat in Asia are pertinent examples. However, the US influence on all kinds of software remains strong, due not only to the major companies located there but also to its prestigious universities which are leaders in online education and thought.
In the last eight months, eID has been to the USA on three occasions. Firstly, we visited as part of the Spain Tech Center programme sponsored by ICEX and Santander Bank to learn in an accelerated masterclass how we can adapt our technology for the North American market. Secondly, we went to an event organized by the management at identity companies One World Identity: taking part in our first panel on the other side of the Atlantic, seeing the main identity trends worldwide and participating in the final of the leading identity competition organized by BBVA, where eID was a finalist out of 146 international companies. Last but not least, we visited Las Vegas for the global launch of our main partnership with the world’s leading BPM software manufacturer and second-ranking CRM player.
While all this is going on, we also have to continue operating as normal, selling, innovating, evolving and protecting our brand, as well as working with those that can help us tell the market about what we are doing: creating a new online service category. Additionally, in the midst of all this, Gartner has just named us 2017 Cool Vendor as one of the 10 strategic technologies to watch this year. For us, this validates our idea and gives the brand, Electronic IDentification (eID), what feels like an encouraging slap on the back.
Not bad for a small Spanish company, right? On any entrepreneurial, educational journey lots of things happen at once and our start-up is no exception. Sometimes we even forget to celebrate the small steps we are making because of the pace.
What have we learned over recent months in the USA? I would say three things:
Firstly, remote video identification of people is a global need, even in countries like the USA which are regulated by common law.
Reliable services such as video identification will undoubtedly become the backbone of a new generation of safer internet services, where user identity and privacy will become especially relevant in strengthening an economy based on people and societies more conscious about the importance of personal information and identity. Some of the hot topics at the events we have participated in have been biometrics for systems access control and remote identification, where selfie/image solutions are becoming more common where only low security is required, and where a new space for our video identification system is clearly emerging where higher levels of security are needed, allowing remote identification that offers the same security as face-to-face identification and does so smoothly.
Blockchain and distributed databases have also enjoyed significant coverage at the events as solutions to the challenge of decentralizing and strengthening identity, especially for projects in closed contexts, for example large federated organizations such as banks or governments. We have talked to a range of organizations working on this kind of project. Adding identity to a secure, efficient distribution network creates a wealth of opportunities, not only for identity projects but also for the impact they can have in other areas such as electronic currencies, where identity remains a significant challenge for sustainable long-term development in projects such as bitcoin. Today such development is limited, in part because of a lack of trust in transactions: one example is the global ransomware security attack where the attackers asked for bitcoins in order to liberate hacked computers as the currency’s anonymity is valuable (lack of trust in identity) for asking for ransoms in electronic currency. With this challenge ahead, our experience is relevant and we have to take advantage, not only with products which can increase confidence but also with our experience gained with the civitana.org project in process anonymisation such as electronic voting.
And let’s not forget the bots. The digital omnichannel is leading to new business generation through digital channels, and, in some cases, which is being begun via social networks, messengers or even email. Soon financial operations will be happening using bots originating from these channels. And identification and hiring will again be key processes in the most regulated areas.
We have already included new API services in our road map so that video identification can be used simply, starting with transactions from Blockchain/Ethereum apps and from a chatbot, which will initially be Facebook Messenger thanks to FB’s ability to generate sales opportunities through marketing.
Secondly, multiple industries, multiple people.
eID is radically changing the model for creating online end-to-end processes in the financial sector. The finance industry is made up of more than fifteen thousand banks and fintechs in retail and other business areas where our technology impacts with huge benefits for our clients. However, finance is not the only industry. We are beginning to take our first steps into industries such as telecommunications and government. Soon we will be working in other fields such as the social media ecosystem, travel and applying our technology to networks such as Blockchain and Ethereum. Our trip to Washington DC and in particular our panel presentation: A look for a voter registration shared with the United Nations has made us even hungrier for success and we believe that this may be a good time to look again at the identification projects for electronic democracy with which our start-up originally began.
For obvious reasons, our main working area is identifying and hiring unknown clients. However, our technology can be applied to any individual: employees, providers, shareholders, patients, citizens, etc… its scope is unlimited. From our trip to Las Vegas, we gained proof of concept in a federal state: the federal police saw our video identification as an opportunity to identify drivers who enter the state from others and who can’t be identified via fingerprint for privacy reasons. Our smooth-running technology would work well in this situation. We shall see.
Thirdly, we have all the ingredients required to become a tech unicorn.
Considering the above, it is clearly possible to achieve the objectives we have set out in our business plan. Should this happen, we will probably have to become a company with a very high market value. In the team, we are seeing this as a challenge involving uncertainty, but less and less so as we go forward. We are a long way ahead of our potential competitors and our technology has important entry barriers that we believe we can make sustainable over time. Time will tell but we are confident and increasingly certain in this opportunity.