A Vancouver company that helps corporations verify the identities of customers over the internet has raised $70-million from some of the world’s largest financial institutions.
Trulioo Information Services Inc. said Tuesday that Goldman Sachs Group led a $60-million financing backed by Citigroup Inc., Spain’s Banco Santander SA and past investor American Express Co.
Trulioo also said early backers Blumberg Capital and Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) provided $10-million in a separate funding this year.
The company, with 130 employees and roughly $30-million in annual revenue, has more than 500 customers globally, including payments processors, online marketplaces and some investors, notably Amex. They use Trulioo’s GlobalGateway platform to access 400-plus data sources online including credit bureaus, government agencies and phone companies, and confirm the identities of millions of customers or eligible voters and expose money-launderers. Trulioo’s patented process produces answers within minutes, compared with the days or weeks it once took clients to perform such checks.
Trulioo says it can confirm the identities of five billion people and offers the same service to verify 250 million companies. It recently began selling part of its code that online merchants can use to do their own verifications. In June, financial data giant Refinitiv began selling Trulioo’s services to its 40,000 institutional client.
“There are a lot of use cases that are evolving, all built around this concept you have to have trust … and each time, Trulioo can be applied,” said former BDC IT Venture Fund Andrew Lugsdin, who manages the investment on the Crown agency’s behalf through his Framework Venture Partners. “Trulioo has established itself in the market as a global leader in this and there’s no reason to see any slowdown in its growth.”
Trulioo is one of an emerging class of Vancouver upstarts leading the second wave of the city’s decade-long tech boom. Four years ago, the biggest names locally were Hootsuite, BuildDirect.com, Vision Critical and Shoes.com.
While all have since struggled – or in Shoes.com’s case, disappeared – others including online furniture seller Article, enterprise software firms Clio, Bench Accounting, Visier and Elastic Path and clean tech startup Terramera have taken their place as the top local prospects. “The news coming out of B.C. recently confirms what those of us on the ground experience every day – we have amazing companies working away on ideas with huge global potential. They’re just doing it quietly," B.C. Tech Association chief executive officer Jill Tipping said.
Trulioo was co-founded by long-time friends Stephen Ufford and Tanis Jorge in 2011 after they built and sold three credit-information startups together. The idea to build an online ID verification platform was partly inspired by their desire to help people in developing countries sign up for accounts online, and by Mr. Ufford’s own cumbersome experiences securing bank and credit card accounts when he lived in the United States.
They encountered early challenges. Mr. Ufford was rejected in 2012 by Markus Frind, owner of Vancouver-based online dating site Plentyoffish, after pitching him on using Trulioo to help lonely hearts confirm the identities of would-be matches. Mr. Frind said his company was so busy deleting fake profiles that any technology used to ferret them out had to be built in-house. “I didn’t see a market for it in online dating,” Mr. Frind recalls.
Mr. Ufford didn’t have much luck with Silicon Valley financiers, either; more than 100 turned him down. One told him, "I’m pretty sure the internet is supposed to be anonymous anyway; terrible idea,’ ” recalls Mr. Ufford, Trulioo’s CEO. But some helped by suggesting Trulioo contact payments startups that were getting funded; many became customers. “We power probably every major payment company on the planet now,” Mr. Ufford said.
Amex later helped Trulioo hone its offering to focus on targeting financial institutions, which faced regulatory requirements to know their customers and fight money-laundering.
“Fraud prevention, cybersecurity, risk management are major focus areas for [us],” said Amex Ventures managing director Dana Eli-Lorch, whose company began using Trulioo after investing in 2015. “That’s essentially what Trulioo [does] in a simple, effective and seamless way.”
She added Trulioo is well-positioned in an era of major data breaches as it doesn’t store personal data from its clients’ customers. "It’s privacy by default,” said Ms. Eli-Lorch. “The timing for what Trulioo is doing is great.”