Home Human Resources NewsEntrepreneurial News Everything you need to know about Onfido

Everything you need to know about Onfido

by LLB Reporter
24th Mar 17 2:25 pm

The business focusing on identity verification

We caught up with the CEO and co-founder of Onfido, Husayn Kassai to find out what the company is all about.

– Company: Onfido
– What it does, in a sentence: Machine Learning-based Identity Verification
– Founded: London, August 2012
– Founders: Husayn Kassai, Eamon Jubbawy, Ruhul Amin
– Size of team: 140
– Your name and role: Husayn Kassai, CEO and Co-Founder


What problem are you trying to solve? Onfido delivers next-generation identity verification, enabling businesses to verify that their users are who they claim to be, without the need to meet them face-to-face. In addition, we allow businesses to carry out background searches including Criminal Record, Right to Work and Anti Money Laundering Checks.

The regulatory burden facing financial services has been steadily on the rise since the crash of 2008. But as financial services continue the migration online, the processes for addressing that regulatory requirement are struggling to keep up. Current Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulation and solutions were built for an offline world, where customers being onboarded by a bank would need to have their documents and identities verified in person. Now that most customers interact with financial services online, that process is getting much harder to manage, driving up manual overheads and causing in-house compliance teams to balloon.

Our Identity Verification Solution responds to these challenges by delivering a unique, layered, Machine Learning-based solution which increases conversion, reduces risk and cuts costs for businesses.

How big is the market – and how much of it do you think you can own? Onfido’s technology is not only disrupting markets, but opening up entirely new ones. One of the world’s leading providers of identity verification, we service leading companies across a range of markets, including Deliveroo, JustGiving, BlaBlaCar, Monzo, Nutmeg, GoCardless, LendInvest, and Crowdcube.

Our solutions are global; we’re currently servicing customers in the UK and Europe, the USA and India, and expect to be moving into new territories this year.

Since our technology is based on Machine Learning, it grows more sophisticated and robust as more volumes pass through it. That means that over time we’ll continue to conquer new markets and stay ahead of our competitors.

Who’s on your team that makes you think you can do this? Onfido’s success so far is entirely thanks to our extremely talented and diverse team. Our 140 staff comprises 41 nationalities speaking 35 languages, and that variety of perspectives has been instrumental in developing our innovative and market-winning solution.

Building a strong team and creating an engaging company culture that rewards and engages them is central to everything we do at Onfido. Our engineering team accounts for around a third of our staff and includes eleven Machine Learning specialists, which is exceptional for a company of our size. We know that having the best talent on board is crucial to the success of a Startup, which is why we’ve made sure to hire really experienced people to our Senior Leadership, including our General Counsel, Emma Jelley (former Senior Counsel at Google) and our CCO, Edward Ungar, (former head of partnerships EMEA at Google).

Who’s bankrolling you? We were initially seed funded by Oxford University, and from there secured a Series A round in February 2015 of $4.5m led by Wellington Partners, with participation from CrunchFund and angel investors Brent Hoberman (cofounder of Lastminute.com), Greg Marsh (cofounder of Onefinestay), Nicolas Brusson and Frederic Mazzella (cofounders of BlaBlaCar), Spencer Hyman (cofounder of Artfinder) and Dan Cobley (former MD of Google UK).

In April 2016 we announced a $25m Series B round led by Idinvest Partners with participation from existing investors CrunchFund and Wellington Partners, as well as new investors Talis Capital, Salesforce Ventures and Acequia Capital.

What advice would you give other entrepreneurs trying to secure that kind of finance? There are three key things that we found investors want to hear from a startup. The first is that you’re able to show how you’re addressing a real need, and that you have the best team to make it happen; the second is that everyone you’ve dealt with has nothing but good things to say about your service, and making sure you really leverage that endorsement; and the third is that you’re aiming to be a £billion+ company. You shouldn’t be shy on selling the long-term vision of your company, as that’s what investors are ultimately looking for.

What do you believe the key to growing this business is? The key to growing any business is a strong, hungry, talented team, first and foremost. Beyond that, making sure that you have the right product at the right time. Having a solid product-market fit is essential, and it’s how we’ve managed to be so successful with Onfido – it’s solving a real business need.

What’s been the most unexpectedly valuable lesson you’ve learnt so far? Very senior professionals, however busy, are more than willing to help if they can sense drive and persistence.

What’s been your biggest mistake so far? Spending too much time with investors that were never going to invest in the early days.

What do you think is on the horizon for your industry in the year ahead? More banks adopting fully digital solutions. The currency of the new economy is trust, and new technologies will be pivotal in ensuring that trust. In a world increasingly characterised by remote, online transactions and strangers sharing commodities, human interactions without trust will only take us so far. Where in the past we’ve built trust by allowing relationships to develop over time, in a remote and instant on-demand economy, no such luxury is available. The assurance that a person is who they claim to be needs to be as quick as it is robust. With a 64% increase in online banking fraud in 2015, and Identity theft now accounting for half of all reported fraud in the UK, a solution is desperately needed. Technologies that can deliver trust in digital identities at speed will take the lion’s share of the market in 2017.

Which London start-up are you watching, and why? I’m a big fan of Pockit bank – they’re truly revolutionary and are bringing the unbanked into the economy. Almost 2 billion people are unbanked worldwide, so to see a business that’s challenging that and harnessing the opportunity it represents is very exciting.

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