Interview: Yoti CEO Talks the State of Technology in the Digital Identity World

Yoti is a brand new, UK based digital identity app which claims to be “The easiest, most secure way to prove your identity online and in person.”

The company recently went viral with their ‘Little Casanova’ awareness video – a lighthearted take on the dangers of not being able to verify the identity of an online dating match.

Setting up Yoti is free, and only takes a matter of minutes. Once users are securely registered on the app, their data is protected by advanced hybrid encryption technology (and not even Yoti can see it).

Once individuals are using Yoti, they are able to do a ‘Yoti swap’ with other individuals online – giving mutual assurance that the other person is who they say they are.

Users are also able to restrict the flow of their personal data significantly by only sharing relevant pieces of information with individuals and companies.

GDI caught up with CEO and Founder Robin Tombs to find out more about Yoti’s future plans, the state of technology in the digital identity world and how it is helping the online dating industry.

Tell us about what Yoti has in store for the start of the year. What are the company’s plans for 2018?

RT: “We started the year with an £8m funding round, giving the company an enterprise valuation of £65m. These funds will be used to grow our consumer network, with an aim of reaching two million users in 2018. We’ll also be using the investment to respond to the significant interest we’re receiving from businesses worldwide.

We’ve partnered with Deltic, the UK’s largest nightclub chain with over 7 million visitors annually, that are all ID checked on entry – which will be accepting Yoti as proof of ID. We’ll be rolling Yoti out to Deltic nightclubs throughout the UK to give people an easier and safer way to prove their age on nights out. In January we launched Yoti in Bournemouth with 3 of the UK’s largest nightlife operators including Cameo, Yates, Walkabout, plus local clubs Truth and Halo – along with tattoo parlours and estate agents who are now accepting Yoti as proof of identity.

We’ve also got pilots with two of the UK’s largest supermarkets coming up and will be launching Yoti in India. It’s going to be a busy year.”  

What is the state of technology in the digital identity world? What different features are used? 

RT: “Advances in biometric technology on smartphones enables us to offer a secure, private digital identity app to a broad range of smartphones including low price points – giving people an easier and safer way to prove their identity and know who they’re dealing with. Key features include:

Mobile and biometrics:

Yoti transforms an individual’s paper ID documents and biometrics into a secure digital identity, which helps them prove their identity, online and in person. Every account is securely verified around a government issued passport or driving licence and an individual’s unique biometrics – making it impossible to create fake Yoti profiles. Android users can read the NFC chip in their passport for additional security.

Yoti brings secure biometric authentication and verification that is compatible with smartphones at all price points. There are already three billion smartphones globally so a digital identity which works on such a high volume of mobile devices means many people will benefit from having a simpler and safer way to prove their identity.

Privacy, security and data minimisation:

With data breaches and hacks costing the economy billions and causing untold personal hurt each year, privacy and security are key to any digital identity solution. Yoti has industry leading encryption and privacy features that set us apart from other tech companies. One feature of Yoti is the ability for individuals to select specific identity attributes to share instead of their whole identity profile, meaning they can just prove their name and age to a business without revealing any other personal information. We promote data minimisation that encourages people and businesses to share only the necessary information required to get a task completed; helping to protect them against the ever-growing threat of identity fraud.

Ubiquity:

People need to be able to use their digital identity in a variety of places – not needing to create a digital identity for every different business they would like to interact with. Companies and regulators across a range of sectors – from nightclubs, recruitment companies, estate agents and retailers – are starting to accept and recognise Yoti as a digital identity solution.”

How is it helping the online dating industry to improve the safety of its users?

RT: “Online dating is a fantastic way for people to meet. Unfortunately there are still too many people being stung by dating fraud and scams which cost them time, money and emotional distress.

Yoti can be used to swap personal details with other people, for free. This can help daters as they can verify the details of people they meet online, giving them confidence and reassurance that the other person is who they say they are. It’s the easiest way to be sure you’re meeting a catch and not a catfish.

Every account is securely built and verified around a government issued passport or driving licence and personal biometrics – making it impossible to create fake profiles. This means you can be confident that the details another person shares, such as their name, age and photo, are all real. We’d like to help daters and dating sites build trust and transparency by using the latest tech to make online encounters safer.”

What other safety features could be added in the future?

RT: “It’s safe to say that most of us are fed up of usernames and passwords and with an average of 26 online accounts per person, it’s no wonder we struggle to remember them. They are no longer adequate security for protecting our personal accounts and information, but Yoti has the solution. Our password manager safely stores and provides easy access to your logins for your favourite websites. There’s no master password to remember; using your biometrics to access and make use of an encrypted store of all your usernames and passwords makes signing in faster, safer and simpler. It even helps you generate unique, strong passwords for even better protection.

So next time you go to log into your favourite websites, consider using Yoti Password Manager.”

Any new advertising campaigns that we can look forward to? How are you planning to top ‘Little Casanova’?

RT: “We’ve been blown away by the success from Little Casanova so it’ll be difficult to top it with 22m views and counting. We recently shared Masseur of Disguise, a video which also highlights the pitfalls of fake online profiles and meeting someone without verifying their identity. This has received over 9 million views so far. We’ve got some more video content planned which we need to keep quiet about for now but we’ll be sharing it soon.

We’re also working with www.native.fm to recruit a team of student brand ambassadors around the country, who can tell their peers about Yoti and help support our rollout with the UK’s largest nightclub chain, Deltic. We’ve got more exciting businesses set to use Yoti this year which we’ll be promoting with a full marketing mix.”