Tech Pitch: Yoti

In a system that relies heavily on paper IDs, this clever tech business is disrupting the way we prove our identity and protect our personal data

Company name: Yoti
Founders: Robin Tombs (48), Duncan Francis (43) and Noel Hayden (46)
Background: Alongside Yoti, I (Tombs) am a co-founder at Gamesys and an investor in early stage businesses. Previously, I co-ran another business with Hayden, which we successfully built up and sold, and before this I was an audit manager with PwC.
Based in: London
Launched: April 2014

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

  • Yoti is a digital identity platform that makes it quicker, easier and safer for individuals and organisations to verify who people are, online and in person. Each Yoti is created using biometrics and a government-issued document such as a passport or driving licence.
  • For consumers, it’s a free app that helps them safely prove their age and identity to businesses, swap identity details with other people, and access websites using their biometrics instead of logins.
  • Yoti also provides apps and SDKs for businesses to enable individuals to securely share verified personal data in just seconds.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

It’s not right that it’s so easy for criminals to commit identity fraud, and it doesn’t make sense that the way we prove who we are is outdated and inefficient – many identity systems rely so heavily on paper IDs in a digital world. We also have limited control over our personal data – and often have no say over the type and amount of information we give to companies.

We’re on a mission to fix this, enabling consumers to take control of their personal information and fight back against the fraudsters. We’ve used smartphones and biometric technology to provide everyone with their free digital identity. We’re disrupting the way people prove their identity, but in a way that favours the individual and the security of their data.

The beauty of Yoti is that an individual only has to create their Yoti once and they can use it time and time again, in a variety of situations. They could use Yoti to prove their age at nightclubs and supermarkets, prove their identity to recruitment companies, or swap details with other people on dating or classified websites. It can also be used as a biometric login to websites.

These are just a handful of the uses of Yoti, but there are many more! We continue to speak to lots of business across different industries so that Yoti can be used in as many places as possible.

I don’t believe that another existing identity verification ‘solution’ provides a service which meets business needs AND empowers consumers to understand the value of their personal data. Yoti is the world’s first cross-sector, mobile-friendly AND consumer-friendly identity system.

Is Yoti funded?

Myself and Noel Hayden have funded the majority of Yoti to the tune of approximately £20m to date. Yoti will remain privately funded for the next six to 12 months, but it’s likely that as we grow we will need to raise growth funding to accelerate our roll out internationally.

What were you doing before you started Yoti?

Alongside Yoti, I am co-founder (and was initially finance director) at Gamesys, one of the world’s leading online gaming operators with annual revenues over £300m, 1,050 staff and offices in six countries.

Prior to Gamesys, I co-ran another business with Hayden (another Gamesys and Yoti co-founder), which we successfully built up and sold, and before that I was an auditor with PwC in London.

I’m particularly passionate about creating opportunities for young people to achieve their potential in life and to bring scalable web and mobile technologies to the not-for-profit sector. So, outside of Yoti, I’m an investor or funder in a handful of early stage for-profit and social businesses, including Infinitesima, Trumin, Luxdeco, Syft, CiviHR, Working Knowledge and the National College for Digital Skills.

I’m also founder of Zing – a charity which supports other charities in helping young people to realise their potential – and a trustee of Future First, a charity which is designed to help state schools build and manage an alumni community.

What’s the best thing about being based in London?

London is a great place for networking and meeting new people because there’s so much innovation and such a variety of companies in one city.

It’s also a great place for attracting a talented workforce – it’s a great city with so many opportunities, so naturally it’s a popular place for people to work. This means we have a diverse and highly talented workforce all in one place.

To learn more about starting a business in London, browse our free guides.

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