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Better Know a B: Yoti

Yoti aims to be the world's trusted identity system, for individuals and businesses. They have a passionate team of software developers, security consultants and other clever minds working to improve the way people share their personal information, online and in person. We caught up with them to find out more about this award-winning tech start-up.

Tell us a bit about the history of your company?

I was at a Spartan race event in California where 10,000 people were queuing up to prove who they were with either their driving licence or passport. It was a painful process - and then entrants had to leave their valuable identity documents and wallets in their bags in a big tent for the day, not a great experience.

I spoke with Duncan Francis (the other Yoti co-founder) and we decided to look into smartphone technology and see if we could put ID on a phone. Between us we saw an opportunity to harness the advances in biometric technologies and explosion in smartphone use to develop a digital identity solution that could be used both online and in person - giving people a much simpler and safer way of proving who they are.

Why did you become a B Corp?

Knowing that we would need to be different and act differently to others who have tried to provide the public with an official digital identity, we created a company founded on strong values. To ensure that we carry these values with us for the long term, we became a B Corporation. 

Being a B Corporation means we meet higher standards of transparency, accountability and performance. It means that right from the start we can ensure these standards are built into and throughout our business. We recognise that Yoti can bring many benefits to many people around the world, so being a B Corp challenges us to deliver the best products and services, and continually challenge our ideas and the way we do business. This is vital for ensuring we are using our business as a force for good; one that benefits all of our stakeholders. 

What excites you about being part of the global B Corporation movement?

We want to bring Yoti to as many people around the world as possible. Being part of the global B Corp movement means the values and vision of our business can be clearly communicated to a global audience. 

It’s also so uplifting to be part of a community - one that spans 50 countries and 130 industries - but with one common goal. 

Can you tell us about the impact that your company is having in the world?

We’re living in a digital age. Everyone wants to do things quickly, easily and securely on their phones. Unfortunately, the way we prove who we are has not matched our mobile and digital society - we still rely on paper documents to simply prove who we are. There’s also been an increasing number of data hacks over the last few years, putting more people than ever at risk of identity theft and fraud. It’s time people were given a viable way to control and share their personal information; this will be key to the future of the digital economy. 

With Yoti, we put people back in control of their data. Being able to consciously control the amount of data we share means we’ll have less reliance on companies for protection, and ultimately limit the amount of personal information cybercriminals can get their hands on. 

It’s also difficult to stop people creating fake profiles and pretending to be someone else online. Yoti can help to combat cyberbullying, grooming, trolling and cases of fraud because only people with a unique face and verified identity document can create verified profiles. This helps people know exactly who they’re interacting with online because Yoti allows individuals to share verified details remotely with other individuals. 

Yoti also eliminates the need for usernames and passwords with a unique, controlled, biometric login - reducing the risk of compromised passwords and keystroke login fraud. With hundreds of online accounts, multiple passwords to remember and the threat of data breaches every day, creating a more secure alternative to passwords has never been more critical. 

Alongside the work we’re doing with businesses in multiple sectors, we’re also looking at how our solutions can help non profits - how for instance biometric login can help a youth organisation; how KYC can help the vetting of non profits applying to access subsidised software, and how identity sharing can enable trustworthy ID/attribute sharing for charities who provide home and doorstep services. 

What benefits have you seen since certification?

The wide reaching social potential of Yoti has been recognised far and wide - with a range of important stakeholders taking an interest in Yoti; from senior politicians, to leading academics and ethics driven investors. We have been invited to the UN and World Bank ID2020 talks, to present to the eIDAS community in Brussels, TechSoup Global, Young Presidents Organisation, London Business School, Canadian Payments Council, the Global Identity Summit and even members of the No. 10 Downing Street Policy Unit.

How did your other staff react to the certification?

They were very positive - it gave everyone a sense of pride and a joint sense of purpose, especially being a founding member of the community. Working for a company which is committed to long term values is something many of Team Yoti are passionate about. 
Our B Corp plaque has pride of place in our reception area - a positive message to share with visitors and a way to clearly communicate our commitment to our values. 

What has changed in your organisation as a result of taking the B Impact Assessment?

I’m particularly passionate about bringing the best out of young people, so we have implemented ‘selfie days’ for all employees at Yoti; inspired by fellow UK B Corp COOK. This is time for employees to spend time on self development and work on personal projects; be this volunteering or hobbies outside of work. We have also implemented life and health insurance for all employees. 

What does the year ahead hold in store for your company?

The next 12 months is a particularly exciting time for Yoti as we will be launching our app very soon! It’ll be so rewarding to see individuals and businesses using Yoti. 

Who is your B Corp crush?

Etsy would be my B Corp crush as I’m inspired by their vision of connecting small business owners with buyers around the world. We’re passionate about giving people a safer way of interacting with other people online so we’d love the chance to work with them on making online buying and selling safer and fairer. 

We're also looking closely at how Yoti can support KYC and AML so are keen to work more closely with some of the first banking B Corps such as Triodos Bank and others keen to consider data minimisation, security and convenience for their consumers.

It’s 2020, 5 years since you certified as a B Corp, what does the movement look like?

The B Corp community already spans 50 countries and 130 industries but as a founding UK B Corp, we’d like this growth to continue with more companies making the commitment to solve social and environmental problems. We’d like to see B Corps collaborating and bringing different skills, ideas and expertise together. 

What is inspiring you at the moment?

I was particularly thrilled about the launch of B The Change Media; a fantastic way to spread the message of businesses being a force for good to a global audience. Two of my colleagues heard B The Change Media CEO Bryan Welch speak at a recent event, and came away feeling so uplifted with his vision for spreading the B Corp message. It’s so inspiring to listen to the positive impacts that businesses can really make in the world, and this has always been one of my inspirations for founding Yoti. 

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