INTERVIEW: Stephen Stuut, CEO, Jumio

INTERVIEW: Stephen Stuut, CEO, JumioMobile ID World President Peter O’Neill recently spoke with Stephen Stuut, CEO of Jumio. The conversation begins with a brief history of the company and an overview of Jumio’s spectacular Q4 2016 results, which capped off its landmark year. Stuut then walks O’Neill through Jumio’s Netverify solution, touching on its liveness detection and document verification capabilities. The conversation later turns to applications, delving into the vertical markets showing the most demand for the company’s ID verification technology, specifically financial services and the sharing economy.

Read Mobile ID World’s exclusive interview with Stephen Stuut, CEO, Jumio:

Peter O’Neill, President, Mobile ID World (MIDW): Please tell our readers about the background of Jumio.

Stephen Stuut, CEO, Jumio: Jumio is approximately six years old. It was originally an Austrian company but moved its headquarters to Silicon Valley in 2010. Since then, it has become truly an American company but with an international reach, in that it has significantly more employees outside the U.S. than inside. For example, we have 1,000 employees based overseas. I refer to Jumio as a teenage company. We’ve grown up, but we still have our awkward moments. That is the way fast-growing companies like Jumio are.

The creation of the company was based purely on the founder, Daniel Mattes. He was on a beach in France, arguing with American Express about whether he was who he was – AmEx could not confirm his identity over the phone. Daniel thought to himself, “There has to be a better way!”

That line of thinking is how Jumio approached the entire market. Knowledge-based authentication is a very annoying avenue companies take to prove who you are. The typical criteria – what was the last thing you charged, what is your dog’s name and so forth – are not effective. With Jumio, you take a photograph of your ID and off you go in your transaction process. It’s frictionless.

MIDW: I find it very frustrating, you are right. I understand you have had a very good year. Can you tell us some of the highlights? I know that you have reached a very significant milestone – 50 million identity-verification transactions globally – that’s amazing! Please tell us about that.

Jumio: In 2016, our fourth quarter was the largest we ever had in our company history. It was 49 percent higher than the previous year’s fourth quarter. Our year-on-year change in ARR, annual recurring revenue, was up approximately 50 percent.

The reason we continued to grow was market demand for our product. We now have three of the top 10 U.S. unicorn companies, which have over $5 billion in revenue, as customers. As you noted, we have completed over 50 million identity checks to date and execute approximately 110,000 identity checks per day. Some of our customers are doing business in 40 different countries at a time. The scale of Jumio’s customer reach and our product use cases are ever-expanding.

MIDW: Speaking of your product, can you please walk us through your Netverify solution?

Jumio: Our customers, the entities that reach consumers, integrate our SDK into their digital journey; Jumio is all about bolstering the digital journey. At pertinent security steps, companies need to validate who a user is. They insert our product into that step. Sometimes Jumio is identified publicly and associated with our customers, sometimes we’re not.

As for the consumer experience, users use their smartphone’s camera or their computer’s webcam to upload a picture of themselves. They can also upload a picture printed by a scanner and send it through an API. The better the quality of the image, of course, the easier it is for us to verify it, but regardless of the quality, our system can handle it.

Jumio executes two identification processes. One is ID verification, which occurs when a user takes a picture of a driver’s license, for example, and we let the user know whether or not the ID is sufficient and verifiable. The other process utilizes computer vision analysis. We analyze whether the user ID is fraudulent or not and start extracting data that the company, our customer, may need – such as name, address, date of birth, etc. That data ultimately makes its way into an integrated system that combines human analysis and computer vision analysis.

This integrated process combines the best of both worlds – machine analysis and human analysis. Jumio is also constantly investing in the latest technology to fortify our verification analysis processes.

Another easy way users can verify their ID is by taking a selfie picture. A selfie lets users verify that they are in fact the same person named and pictured on the originally submitted ID. This method of verification is especially useful for users whose IDs have been stolen and thus are not able to resubmit their ID for verification via scan. For an extra fee, we do facial recognition and deliver verification results in less than two minutes, and sometimes in 90 seconds.

MIDW: Liveness is becoming an important topic right across our industry right now. Can you describe your solution for this please?

Jumio: We are attempting to catch fraudsters who are using a video or a photograph with the eyes or other facial features cut out. To do this, we use a combination of cutting-edge technology and humans to determine if the individual submitting for verification is not a fraudster. I would love to tell you more about our process, but we don’t want to tip off the fraudsters. 

MIDW: It’s nice to know that you have that covered.

Jumio: Our product, Netverify Trusted Identity as a Service, looks at three components to verify identification. One is the government-issued ID. The second is your online identity. The third component is document verification. Netverify examines your ID to determine if looks as if it has been altered. Does it look as if a face has been pasted on it? On the inside of an ID document, such as a passport, we can find many anomalies, machine-readable zones, barcodes and so on; we can read the chips and more. We can even cross examine particular databases to see if you really do exist.

The identity component refers to the facematching process as well as to liveness detection, which ensures you are human and not a fraudster. The last component, document verification, is something new for us. We will verify that pertinent data on documents, such as address, match the information on the ID submitted. For example, in Europe, the Know Your Customer (KYC) requirement asks you to provide a utility bill or a bank statement to prove where you live. Verifying that proof quickly and accurately is a very big pain-point for some of our international customers, and we now have a product that addresses it.

MIDW: Which vertical markets are you focusing on? I know from meeting your team at the Money 20/20 show that financial services is one. What are some of the others?

Jumio: The sharing economy is a second vertical we are heavily focused on. Financial services and sharing-economy companies that do not have a brick and mortar existence naturally will be drawn to Jumio because they don’t have physical locations where users can go to verify their IDs. Players in the sharing economy, be it Airbnb, ride-sharing and office-space-sharing companies, are all big customer targets for us.

Financial services such as Bitcoin, peer-to-peer lending, money transfer and digital banks are all big customers – as are traditional banks. Another segment we do well in is travel. Airlines, car rentals and more are all big customer targets for us.

As far as use cases go, just think about when you pull out your ID to confirm a hotel room, to rent a car, to participate in an online auction. We have 50 use cases.

Here’s one of the examples I like to use to explain our value-add: an Alaskan resident walks up to a car-rental desk in California and shows her Alaska driver’s license. Does the person behind the desk have any idea what the person is supposed to look like? Most likely not. By combining computer and off-site human analysis, we do the identity-verification process more quickly, cheaply and accurately than any other method.

MIDW: Stephen, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us today. I look forward to seeing Jumio in Copenhagen at the Money 20/20 Europe Show.

Jumio: Great! I look forward to seeing you then, Peter.