In the Spotlight with Leo, Growth and Partnerships Executive at Yoti

Last week we released our "Little Casanova" video which highlights the potential pitfalls of not knowing who you're meeting, and the ease at which someone can create a fake profile online and pretend to be someone else. We caught up with Leo from our Growth and Partnerships team, who explains how you can use Yoti to check the identity of people you meet.

Yoti can be used to check the identity of another person, why would I need to do that?
Meeting new people is a part of everyday life. The problem is, we often need to trust these people without knowing anything about them. This is especially true of dealing with people over the internet.

Think, for example, about renting someone else’s property or chatting on a dating site. Moving your life into someone else’s home or arranging to meet a stranger in a bar requires a lot of trust. Yet all you have to go by is an online profile which that person has created for themselves. The same applies to the offline world. You could be meeting someone to buy or sell items advertised on a classifieds site or even welcoming tradesmen into your home. Again you have to take their word that they are who they say they are.

Most of the time these sorts of interactions happen with no issue. The problem is, when they go wrong, the impact for the victim can be devastating. We’ve heard the stories of people getting ‘catfished’ on dating sites, scammed by people renting nonexistent homes or buying items from someone online only to never receive them. Serious crimes are sometimes committed as a result of cases like these.

At Yoti, we recognise that meeting new people, both online and offline, can create anxiety and risks. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve developed a simple solution to let people check each other’s verified identities. It helps people meet and transact with greater peace of mind.

How much does Yoti cost and how long does it take to check someone’s details?
Yoti is free for individuals and an account takes just minutes to create. Once created, you can start exchanging identity details with other people right away. The exchanging of details itself is also very quick.

How do I check someone’s details?
You can use Yoti to exchange details in three different ways:

  • Request details: lets you request specific identity details from someone else.
  • Swap details: lets you specify which of your personal details you want to show to someone, in order to see their equivalent details in return.
  • Send details: lets you send your identity details to someone else.

After choosing which details to exchange and who with, you decide whether to share them via SMS, email, Whatsapp, or in person.

What details can I see about someone else?
It’s up to you to choose. You decide which details you want to request, send or swap. These can include: first name, last name, photo, age, gender, nationality, address, phone number and email address. When you swap details with another person, you receive the same information from them. But remember: just because you requested to see someone’s details, doesn’t mean they’ll accept. At Yoti we believe people should always decide who to share their details with and when to share them.

All these details have been previously verified by Yoti, so you can be confident the details shared with you are real.

How long does it take to check their details?
Once you have sent a request, you just need to wait for the other person to accept. Once that person has accepted, the details are exchanged instantly. The details of the other person are then available to see in your Yoti app.

Assuming most people check their phone several times a day, it shouldn’t take more than 24 hours for the other person to accept or reject your request.

Surely I could just look at their social media profile to find out more about them?
You can, and in fact it might be useful to do that sometimes. But the problem is, you can never be sure that the details on social media accounts are real. Details on social media profiles aren’t verified, meaning someone can easily create a fake profile.

Yoti verifies every identity detail of the person behind the profile, so checking who someone is with Yoti will always be safer and more reliable than checking social media profiles.

How do I know their details are real?
Each Yoti account is securely built and verified using a government issued document, like a passport or driving licence, and personal biometrics. We also have a dedicated verification team working 24/7 to prevent the use of fake and fraudulent documents being used to set up Yoti accounts. Without going into too much detail, these are the main verification steps we take before approving an account:

  • selfie matching: we ask users to take a picture of themselves, and we compare this photo to the one on their identity document.
  • video test: we ask users to repeat randomly generated words. This helps us confirm that the user is a real person and isn’t trying to spoof the system with someone else’s picture.
  • document upload: we ask users to add one of their identity documents, like a passport or driving licence.
  • document verification: our professionally trained team ensures each document is genuine.

Will it not be awkward to ask another person to prove who they are?
If you explain your request, then it shouldn't be awkward. You can also personalise the message you send with every request, for example if you were going to buy a car from someone you could say:

“Hi Joe, before we finalise the transaction could we please use Yoti to complete an identity check?”

It gives both people peace of mind and confidence.

In one sentence, why should I download the app?
Get your ID on your phone and always know who you’re dealing with!

What’s the one thing about Yoti you’re most passionate about?
I’m really excited about Yoti’s ambitious vision: to become the world’s trusted identity system. The fact that Yoti could be used in so many different life situations makes it a very interesting project to work on.

Yoti has the potential to be used in every context where people need to prove who they are. You could use Yoti to enter a nightclub instead of carrying an ID document, to check the identity of someone you’ve met on a dating site, to prove your identity to a recruitment company, or as an alternative to usernames and passwords.

Lastly, I like the fact that we have put data privacy at the heart of our principles. We treat people’s personal details respectfully. Our system is built so that we can’t see people’s details, meaning we can’t sell their data on or track how they are using the app.

If you have any other questions for Leo, please get in touch.


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