Interview with Zac Cohen, COO at Trulioo

This is a transcript of our interview with Zac Cohen, COO at Trulioo.

You can watch the original interview here

Boris: Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to our interview with Zac Cohen. Zac is a Chief Operational Officer at Trulioo. Trulioo is a hyper growth Vancouver startup solving global identity challenges associated with international regulatory compliances, fraud, prevention and trust and safety online. Zac, thank you for taking your time and coming to our interview today.

 

Zac: It’s a pleasure Boris.

 

Boris: Thank you, can you tell us a short story about Trulioo? Why there was a need for your solution?

 

Zac: I think Boris, it’s really a part three story to be honest. The first is the evolution of the global citizen, who now we see moves from country to country, engages in crossed border activity regularly.

 

The second part of the story is really the reality of our transition from a physical interaction to the majority of a digital world today. And more importantly, the last part of our story is the equality in financial inclusion angle. Whereas in our belief everyone regardless of their background or their demographic or the country that they live in should have the same ability to access the online economy.

 

So when you look at those three stories holistically and the challenges that they all present, it really boils down to identity and how do you establish trust online? How do you prove that you are who you say you are online? And the like.

 

So it’s really with those in mind that we chose to challenge and focus on that mission. And that’s how Trulioo grew one of the largest online identity verification market places today. We connect our customers to a single plug and play solution. It includes hundreds of identity sources and services, we cover about 5 billion people and close to over 150 countries around the world.

 

Boris: Can you perhaps explain what Trulioo offers to the industry in terms of products and solutions? How it differs from other software providers, because there are a lot in this category. And what are some examples of your customers use cases?

 

Zac: The industry has grown a lot in the last several years and I’ll answer the last part of your question first. When we talk about use cases that we typically encounter, the two most common are regulatory and then trust and safety.

 

So the first one, a regulatory use case, is a compliance and around that compliance obligation that you have, that typically comes as a know-your-customer KYC or anti-money launder AML, a fraud prevention type use case.

 

Essentially that arises anytime an account is created online, it all can result in money changing hands. So you need to identify the individual or the business that is creating that account while they’re doing it. We see that a lot in e-commerce market places, payment services, fintech, traditional financial services etc.

 

The other use cases is more a trust than safety one, and that is actually almost faster growing today. It’s often around the risk and fraud, the security of your eco system, how do you eliminate fake profiles or bad actors or frauds or attempts on your network etc.

 

So it’s a similar verification process of a person or a business but you take a different approach. And we see it very often in the sharing economy, the gig economy social networks, any services that’s not really in a financial regulator.

 

Those are the primary use cases we see for online identify verification, I think when we talk about differentiation we could have a conversation about that all day. But if I have to it’s really down to the single most important one in the complex environment that we face today. It really comes down to a holistic view, when you scour the internet in solutions for identity verification providers you’ll find a lot of point solutions.

 

But what Trulioo approach has always been is a holistic and layered one and what that means is we want you to apply the right solution for the right risk based approach on a right use case. So if we talk about those two different use cases I just mentioned there might be very different solutions and services that you want to apply and having a holistic view really allows you to include a flexibility in that approach.

 

That can also evolve overtime if the regulatory environment changes or if you want to launch in a new country tomorrow. You don’t want to make a bunch of technical changes or have to add a variety of new solutions each time you encounter a change. You want to be able to use something that has already scoped that out and have the marketing methodology having seen hundreds of millions of transactions in that network. To be able to choose the right solution at the right time for the customers. So that’s the biggest differentiator that we bring in the market for our customers.

 

Boris: Ok, We are currently in the midst of a major crisis, the most disruptive period to our society in the piece-time history. The pandemic is having a serious implication for businesses across the globe as they adapt to the new normal of operations and it is important to establish trust remotely and fight cyber fraud. Can you perhaps elaborate more on this topic and how you guys are helping your customers in the society as a whole during this time? What tips do you have for risk managers to help their organizations to stay their course during the COVID crisis?

 

Zac: Boris, you hit the nail on the head, it’s a situation that we’ve never seen before and its very unique. I think one of the biggest factors that’s pointed at is a digital interaction has gone from a nice-to-have in many cases to a must-have.

 

If you don’t have a digital channel today, your businesses are pretty much folding up in large part. It’s very risky not to have that. And what that also increased from a user perspective is a lot of new participants of folks and demographics that might not have been inclined to use an online channel before.

 

And now been forced to they need their critical services or access to new solutions that they didn’t had before. And when you have more people, it naturally creates two different results from that. One is it increases scrutiny from the consumer, right now I’m going to be experimenting with a lot of different solutions online. So the one I choose is going to represent the best experience possible, and also it’s fraud.

 

Wherever there’s going to be massive increases in volume and transactions. The bad actors and the fraudulent attempts are going to subsequent and also increase. So those are how they seem in the market, the changes since COVID really started escalating around the world.

 

And I think that Trulioo talked about how we’re helping how we’re trying the address that situation. We really come off on it from an experience that if we can create those digital interactions safer, if we can create a safe environment for those interactions we’re all better off.

 

So we focus very heavily on how we can create an on-board users a lot easier, make it very simple to launch in the same day. Be able to provide that intelligence about which services you should use, considering your use case that you’re encountering specifically.

 

We’ve even offered a lot of free or low cost solution to bridge that gap for organizations that are all of a sudden are in a panic situation that need to go online quickly. You mentioned risk managers, which are a great aspect, I really believe that risk managers should start thinking about technology solutions as a partnership model.

 

Doing your own diligence is very important, but you need to find partners who aren’t just selling a solution that are really talking you about a strategy and that strategy about how it can work and how it can evolve overtime and how it can address the multiple challenge that you’re particularly facing and the one you’re forecasting might face in the future. So it’s really around that partnership model and having someone that can bring multiple options to the table, that your specific use case is the best.

 

Boris: Advance of A.I, specifically Deep Fakes and fraud in general makes us all concerned especially concerning the upcoming elections in the US. Now we’re also facing a perspective of health surveillance state, the governments of many countries spy on their citizens to prevent a spread of the disease. Do you have some special view on that?

 

Zac: Yes we do. It’s a very serious and topical conversation. When we think about it, it really has come down to balance. Balance of getting the outcome you desire but balance between maintaining data privacy and protection and the security of your consumer information. We’ve seen some very dramatic data breaches in recent memory and we’ve seen the abuse of consumer data across a variety of different cases. And none of that is good. And I think the regulator has come up with that in terms of how do we protect data privacy, how do we mandate appropriate use of data to the best of our ability.

 

And consumers are becoming more disturbing as well. We’ve just got a huge survey in the US and in the UK. Do the users want more speed or security of their data? And the pendulum swing is very clearly towards security.

 

So consumers’ rights, in terms of how we protect their data, is very important for them. When we’re talking about AI solutions and what we’re wanting again, you really have to balance those needs without sacrificing one or the other. And I think the other aspect that’s important is that I don’t believe you can detach the technology from the application.

 

We’ve seen businesses that are pursuing certain applications of their technology from an economic standpoint, like it’s an opportunistic situation where perhaps your technology wasn’t been dying for that use case or for that purpose. But hey, we’ll make it work or we just stack technology on top of it. But if you discount or disregard the pitfalls of the conversation of the question overall, then you are doing technology a disservice to technology as a whole and to the original designer of the technology.

 

I know it’s really close to our founders and our management and our entire companies, views in terms of how we use our technology and it’s not opportunistic. It drives admission based principle, in terms of including more people not excluding them and doing it safely, not potentially risking their data being shared with organizations or individuals. So we feel pretty strong about that but I do believe that, again, we can work together for getting a solution but keeping those data in mind.

 

Boris: Could you elaborate more about what are the major trends in the identity verification space? And what we should expect from you guys in the future?

 

Zac: This is an exciting one for us, I think for a lot of people. Because what we’re realizing is that every single interaction we have online, your identity is tied to it. And the way your identity changes overtime and how persistent it is throughout the network, it creates a really cool opportunity to a forecast the future of the world.

 

So I think that what we’re seeing and particularly what we’re focusing on is the broader and deeper layers of a network approach to identity. So you really want to apply a seamless experience that reduces fraud and reduces risk as well as satisfying the compliance obligations. And what that means for identity in the future is, you need multiple layers of solutions and you need to consider holistically the entire global environment to get there.

 

And I believe that a lot of focus should be put towards that layered approach and broad it even more so we can answer some of these more sensitive questions on fraud and data protection. There are a lot of cases where an individual doesn’t want to share all of their passport information where they want to limit who accesses those types of tools.

 

And we really have to keep that in mind and build a solution that can answer all of that advancement and evolution of the consumer of preference but as well being able to include more people if they don’t have all the documentation or the information that we come to expect. Identifying someone in Africa or a developing country is very different that doing it in the US.

 

And even within the US or the Netherlands or Canada for example you have unbanked individuals so there are cohort within your own country. So you really have to apply multiple tiers and layers and not sort of where I see the market is going. I think the other aspect is today Trulioo is a backend tool in many ways, we talk about a marketplace of solutions you can apply. But more and more we are now launching towards front end tools as well. So you can have a seamless end-to-end experience and take advantage of all of our years of intelligence around what solutions work when and apply that consumer facing directly in the an application. Its a technical advancement but what it means is we are providing even more flexibility and more faster go to markets strategies for customers or for folks that are challenges with ‘how do I identify my population when we’re launching?’

 

Boris: And the last questions is, how can we at Global Risk Community from your perspective contribute to the process of better understanding to this complex world of risk?

 

Zac: It’s a cool one and you play a big part of it and I do as well, and that’s information sharing. And how do we increase the amount of information sharing we have between risk officers around what approaches work and what we encountered in one country versus another and what are new and increasing threats to our applications that we need to protect ourselves against.

 

And I think that if I look back 5 years ago, compliance officers and risk officers held their cards really close to their chest. It was almost not wise or there were additional risks which is sharing what you do and how you do it. And we need to provide more safe places for that to happen, you can learn so much from someone who has been through it and you don’t make the same mistakes.

 

So we can reduce fraud, we can reduce regulatory fines, we can increase our compliance and our identity measures if we work together. And I think in a similar light those conversations need to happen with the regulators themselves as well.

 

I truly believe that the regulators are there to create a save environment for everybody, they don’t want to inhibit comers, they don’t want to inhibit access but they have to do it in a safe way. So having those conversation with regulators more frequently between risk officers, compliance officers, technology providers, regulators and businesses we can come to a much better solution around how to approach these questions and challenges and do it successful. And I think we have pockets of that that are really great examples of it, in Australia, in the UK, in the US and we just need to do more. And I take the organizational effort but we’ll all be better off it.

 

Boris: Thank you Jack, it was a pleasure to having you in our interview. I wish you and your company a great success with your future x plans and I hope that our members will find this interview very interesting and useful.

 

Zac: I hope so as well Boris, thanks so much for having me if anyone has any questions: trulioo.com it’s very easy. You’ll find your answers there.

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