INTERVIEW: Javier Mira, CEO, FacePhi

Peter O’Neill, president of Mobile ID World had a chance to speak with Javier Mira, CEO and co-founder of FacePhi. INTERVIEW: Javier Mira, CEO, FacePhiThe conversation starts with a review of what an excellent year 2016 has been for FacePhi, goes on to cover the challenges of deploying biometrics in the financial arena, and discusses the importance of industry events like Money20/20. The interview ends with a broad look at the driving factors of mobile biometric authentication and a preview of FacePhi’s 2017 event schedule.


Peter O’Neill, President, Mobile ID World (MIDW): Can you tell us if it has been a good year for FacePhi?

Javier Mira, CEO, FacePhi: Yes, absolutely! I think 2016 is the year we have been waiting for over the last ten years. It has been a long journey since we first invested in R&D. In 2014 we tried the technology in the first couple of banks, and then in 2015 we deployed another four, and in 2016 we fully implemented the technology in the banks. This was the year that we consolidated our leadership position from the point of view of the user experience. As of today, we have more than 50 million authentications per year in all of our ten clients. 2016 has been good for new contracts, it has been good for the user experience production of the technology, the satisfaction rate has been fantastic, and it has been good because we are finally showing profits!

MIDW: 50 million transactions, that’s quite impressive. What have you learned from the last two years about the industry and some of the challenges when deploying in the financial area?

FacePhi: The question is quite complicated, but I would have to say that the key to our success is not only to have a good and accurate technology but to be able to work closely together with the client for the duration of the project. We help clients not only to use our algorithms and to make the Selphi solutions, but we also work with the clients to analyze their own apps, to help them with the design of the new app, to help them design all of the user interfaces so that they can properly use our technology, and also to help them with the media communication on social networks when customers need any help with the technology or any problems they may have with the technology. So I think working with the client closely until they put the technology into production is a key factor for our success.

MIDW: I think you have raised a very important point, and that is the educational component to make sure that the product works seamlessly is really significant and a very important step to make. I had a chance to meet with you and your company at Money 20/20 show in Las Vegas: what were your thoughts on that show?

FacePhi: Well to be honest with you Peter I have to thank you a lot. We went to this show because of a conversation that you and I had at MWC in Barcelona and you mentioned that Money 20/20 would fit in with our strategy and you were 100 percent right. This show for FacePhi has been a game-changer and is going to shift the strategy of FacePhi in the next couple of years because of the number of banks and the number of new contacts with key players in this sector that we got last month in Las Vegas. We have already started a lot of POC with some of them and I think it is going to show us the way in the next couple of years. We are not only going to participate in the show in Vegas in the United States but we are going to go to Copenhagen in June 2017 and in 2018 to Singapore.

MIDW: It is such a fast changing industry, isn’t it Javier? It is moving so quickly and it just seems to be gathering speed and there seems to be a need for technology like your company provides in the marketplace. The selfie is such an easy way for the end user to authenticate and I think that is a critical component these days, the convenience factor coupled with high end security creates a really winning situation.

FacePhi: Exactly, I totally agree. It is a fact that 82 percent of IT users accessing the Internet are using mobile devices rather than laptops and PC’s. So almost all of us are using our mobile every day, and not our PC’s, to sign into our bank account, etc. So this is a fact. The problem is that we need to balance the convenience of using biometrics with the security needed. Biometrics provide a higher level of security than using passwords or any other factor. So this combination of elements, and to balance convenience and security, is a key factor for biometrics today.

We presented Selphi ID in Las Vegas because it is a fact that there is competition between financial institutions to get new clients and these new clients would like to join without going to a branch office. I think in the next two or three years that all of the biometric technological solutions that help people like you and I to open accounts without going to a branch office and lining up, are going to be winners.

MIDW: Well, congratulations again on a very successful year, and I do look forward to seeing you again in Copenhagen at the Money20/20 show. Will you also be at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona?

FacePhi: Yes, we will be attending both conferences.

MIDW:  Well I look forward to seeing you in Barcelona.

FacePhi: Thank you Peter.