The Recursive: What is Identyum and what digital identity problems does it solve?
Tomislav Bošnjaković: Identyum is a digital identity provider and is in the business of strong digital identity. Our team has a lot of experience in the financial and banking industry where proof of strong identity is essential, especially if clients want to get services online without going to the branch offices. Our goal is to provide citizens and physical persons with strong digital identity solutions that they can reuse. At the moment, we do have a lot of KYC solutions on the market, which allow users and companies to prove someone’s identity online. However, a person has to do it over and over again for each company and this is causing a lot of friction. In addition, it is time-consuming and it costs a lot of money for companies to integrate all technology needed to do it properly.
Such complex technologies and solutions are something that big banks and corporations can afford, but small and medium ones cannot. They are basically lagging behind because they cannot afford the same technologies as their bigger competitors. Our solution is providing citizens with their own digital identity card or ID wallet, which they can use to access the services of companies from various industries – not only banking but also telecoms, rent-a-car, hospitality, events, etc.
And on the other hand, companies can use our technology to onboard clients with just the friction of the cost that they would pay if they would do it by themselves. We have calculated that over a five-year span, we guarantee about a 60% lower total cost of ownership for a company.
Moreover, when a person has his digital identity card created, he or she can use it beyond the B2C segment. There is a use case in the dating and P2P marketplaces industry, where one person can identify themselves to the other. Another good example would be the gaming industry because we all have accounts on different platforms. Another benefit of this so-called centralized identity is that if a person changes something, for example, their address, they don’t have to change it on 50 different websites.
There are many elements that go into creating a digital identity such as medical records and financial history. Can you mention all the elements that makeup one’s digital identity?
Identyum is a PSD2 licensed provider and can connect to any bank in Europe to get account information for a person. That means that a verified IBAN or someone’s financial capacity or scoring can also be part of their identity. When it comes to medical information, it is valuable to store all your medical data so that you can have all your records ready anytime you want to have a second opinion or a medical check.
What matters is that only you can control who can access your data. Each time that somebody wants to read something from your wallet, you will get the notification that a specific company or a person wants to see a specific type of data about you, asking you for your consent.
How was the idea of Identyum born?
For a couple of years, our current team was working for a Swedish FinTech, which was a data aggregator from banks. This was before PSD2 so we had to connect to bank API’s in order to extract account information for a person. The biggest problem was identifying that this account belongs to the same person. Then we realized that KYC is a big problem that needs to be solved especially in the digital era where nobody wants to go to branch offices and instead expects a 24/7 online service.
This is how the idea came about. When we started in 2018, digital identity was a term that didn’t exist. For example, if someone were to type “digital identity” in Google, they would get various things around KYC. The interesting thing is that in less than 2 years, the European Union realized the necessity of e-ID digital identity. Actually, there is a regulatory draft that would make a framework for ID wallets and issuing ID cards in a digital way. What we would like to become is one of the pioneers in Europe, that will address this new regulation and offer that kind of service on the market.
Are you currently working to enable the digital ID vision of the EU?
We are already part of some of the early adopter programs such as The European Blockchain Association, which aims to create a verification system for university diplomas. Since we are a private company, we are part of such programs as technology providers. We are closely monitoring everything that is happening in the EU regarding digital identity as we neither want to miss out on an opportunity nor move too fast for customers’ expectations.
At what stage of development is Identyum now, and what traction have you gained so far?
We were founded in November of 2018 and the first big milestone for us was in the fall of 2019 when we became PSD2 licensed service provider. For us, this was a big accomplishment because we were the first such company in Southeast Europe.
We bootstrapped our development for the first year and a half, before receiving investment from EU grants. At this point, we still haven’t raised any VC capital. However, we do have paying customers including the neobank that I mentioned, pension funds, crypto exchanges, and other companies that need KYC and holdings that consist of several businesses.
In terms of traction, we are proud that one global neobank chose us as their provider of KYC and electronic signatures in Croatia and Slovenia. Later, we became a partner of a trusted service provider in Croatia, which is issuing digital certificates. They trust our technology of identification to issue electronic certificates to their citizens. So basically, citizens don’t have to go to any branch offices to get certificates anymore. At the moment, what we want to do is to become one of the recognized identity wallets across Europe and to offer our services to all EU citizens.
How did the Visa Innovation Program help you grow?
Considering how much competition there was before entering the program, we were flattered to be among the 16 selected companies. The workshops with industry experts and mentors really helped us prepare pitch decks for potential future investors and connect us with potential partners from Bulgaria and Greece.