Yoti blog

Stories and insights from the world of digital identity

Yoti raises £8m equity investment at an £82m valuation

Yoti raises £8m equity investment at an £82m valuation

At Yoti, we believe there’s tremendous potential to be gained if everyone has access to a digital identity. That’s why over the past few years, we have invested millions into giving people an easier and safer way to prove who they are.  Our latest funding round of £8 million new equity investment will help us continue to grow our consumer network, invest in product development and expand our operations globally. This funding has come from existing private investors, employees and our CEO and Co-founder Robin Tombs. This gives Yoti a post-money equity valuation of £82 million, following two previous investment rounds.  This funding round is another great milestone for the team, following a very busy time since our launch in November 2017!   Some of our highlights Since launch, we’ve started working with Heathrow Airport to explore biometric travel for passengers, partnered with global checkout leader NCR to improve age verification at self-checkouts, and last year we were chosen by the Government of Jersey as its digital identity provider, with 10 percent of the Jersey adult population now using Yoti. And as of this year, over 2,000 convenience stores throughout the UK are fighting underage sales and the rise of fake IDs by using Yoti to verify the age of customers for age-restricted goods. We’ve developed our AI age estimation technology, Yoti Age Scan, developed several licensable IP products around anti-spoofing, and signed the Safe Face Pledge to demonstrate our commitment towards a fair and transparent approach towards biometrics and AI.  Social networking app Yubo are using Yoti Age Scan to estimate the age of individuals, and flag any accounts where the person appears to have significantly misstated their age – a vital step to help safeguard young people online. Yubo has already run over 22 million checks using Yoti Age Scan, and tens of thousands of users have already verified their Yubo profile with the Yoti app.  We’ve also been busy expanding our team in Bangalore and in the US, exceeded 4.7 million app downloads, and developed a private and secure age verification solution ProveMyAge. This will help adult websites comply with the age verification requirements of the upcoming Digital Economy Act, set to come into force later this year. We became the first company to achieve the BBFC Age Verification Certification Scheme for this, showing our commitment to privacy and data security.  We’ve also kicked off our Social Impact work, which aims to develop solutions for grassroots, local communities and developing countries; helping to address the 1.1 billion people around the world who do not have any form of identification.   Stay tuned It’s been a busy time and there’s still plenty more to come. This latest funding round will help us on our mission to be the world’s trusted identity system and give everyone a simpler, safer way of proving their identity.

3 min read
The Meet Group teams with digital identity company Yoti to help create safer communities online

The Meet Group teams with digital identity company Yoti to help create safer communities online

NEW HOPE, Pa., July 24, 2019 – The Meet Group,Inc. (NASDAQ: MEET), a leading provider of interactive live streaming solutions, and Yoti, a digital identity company, today announced that The Meet Group plans to trial Yoti’s innovative age verification and age estimation technologies designed to create safer communities online.  The Meet Group, with more than 15 million monthly active users, helps people to find connection and community through its social networking and dating apps. As a company committed to the protection of its users, The Meet Group devotes approximately half of its workforce to safety and moderation, and continuously reviews its safety procedures with the goal of meeting the highest standards of online safety and security.  The relationship allows Yoti to enhance The Meet Group’s strong existing safety measures, letting users verify their age with Yoti’s age estimation technology, or the free Yoti app where a date of birth is verified to a government issued photo ID. Yoti’s technology can help moderators at The Meet Group ensure that minors do not create accounts.  Geoff Cook CEO at The Meet Group commented: “A key part of helping people to create meaningful connections is to keep them safe online. We have already committed ourselves to one-tap report abuse capability, clear and frequent safety education, and proactive and transparent moderation, and now with Yoti’s age verification and estimation technologies, we look forward to being one of the few app operators in social or dating who can respond to reports of underage users quickly and accurately. By using Yoti’s age estimation technology and digital identity app, we believe we can enhance the safety of our platforms and give users a simple, private and secure way to verify their age.” Adam Grayson, US Regional Director at Yoti explained:“I’m delighted to announce our relationship with The Meet Group, which demonstrates its ongoing commitment and leadership to proactive safety measures and the protection of its members. Yoti Age Scan can estimate someone’s age with a high degree of accuracy and privacy, and the free Yoti app gives people the chance to verify their age in a simple and secure way – creating more transparency online and helping to ensure that only those of the right age are accessing online platforms and creating accounts. Our work with The Meet Group shows how Yoti’s technology can help make the internet a safer place, which is particularly important when connecting with new people.” Yoti’s technology is private and secure; letting individuals verify their age without sharing any other personal information. This data minimisation approach protects an individual’s privacy and identity, and provides a blueprint for safer, simpler user experiences. Yoti has been designed in such a way that individuals aren’t tracked – only the individual can access their personal data.  The Meet Group expects to trial Yoti’s technology on the MeetMe app this year.  Notes to editors Yoti’s age estimation technology uses a form of Artificial Intelligence (AI) called neural network learning and accurately estimates a person’s age by comparing an individual’s face to many thousands of other age verified faces.  There is no need for people to register in advance or provide any documents as evidence of their identity. It simply estimates their age. The image is instantly destroyed as soon as the age has been estimated, meaning the technology ‘always forgets a face’.  You can find out more about Yoti’s age estimation technology in white paper.  providing age restricted goods and services, both online and in person.  Yoti have signed the Safe Face Pledge signature, which encourages companies using artificial intelligence to ensure that facial recognition technology is not misused.  When MeetMe users verify their age using the Yoti app, they will only be asked to share an 18+ attribute to protect their privacy.  Yoti is also working with social networking app Yubo who are using Yoti’s age estimation technology and the Yoti app to help protect their community of users, as part of their safeguarding and safety measures. About The Meet Group The Meet Group (NASDAQ: MEET) is a leading provider of interactive livestreaming solutions designed to meet the universal need for human connection. Our ecosystem of livestreaming apps enables users around the world to interact through one-to-many livestreaming broadcasts and text-based conversations. Our top apps, MeetMe®, LOVOO®, Skout®, Tagged® and Growlr®, deliver live interactions and meaningful connections to millions of users daily. Headquartered in New Hope, PA, we have offices in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dresden, and Berlin. The Meet Group is committed to safety. You can find a description of current safety practices here. For more information visit themeetgroup.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. About Yoti Founded in 2014, Yoti is a global technology company on a mission to become the world’s trusted identity platform. Our free digital identity app, with over 4.6 million downloads, is the new, safer way to prove your age online, check out faster with age-restricted items at supermarkets and save time and money proving your identity to businesses. It brings safer connections with the people you meet online as well as enabling secure website login with your biometrics instead of remembering passwords.All personal details are secured with 256-bit encryption and Yoti promotes a data minimisation approach. For more information, visit www.yoti.com.  Media contacts Brandyn Bissinger – bbissinger@themeetgroup.com Rachael Trotman – rachael.trotman@yoti.com    Investor contact Leslie Arena – larena@themeetgroup.com  Forward-Looking Statements Certain statements in this press release made by The Meet Group, Inc. are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including whether we will trial Yoti’s technologies as expected; whether Yoti’s technologies will make our online communities safer and help our moderators ensure that minors do not create accounts; whether we will be one of the few app operators in social or dating who can respond to reports of underage users quickly and accurately; and whether we will by using Yoti’s age estimation technology and digital identity app we will enhance the safety of our platforms and give users a simple, private and secure way to verify their age.  All statements other than statements of historical facts contained herein are forward-looking statements. The words “believe,” “may,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “should,” “plan,” “could,” “target,” “potential,” “project,” “outlook,” “is likely,” “expect” and similar expressions, as they relate to us, are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Further information on our risk factors is contained in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including the Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018 filed with the SEC on March 8, 2019. Any forward-looking statement made by us herein speaks only as of the date on which it is made. Factors or events that could cause our actual results to differ may emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for us to predict all of them. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise, except as may be required by law.

6 min read
Developing our facial age estimation tech through roundtable discussions

Developing our facial age estimation tech through roundtable discussions

Here at Yoti, we’re on a mission to become the world’s most trusted identity platform. This isn’t something we plan on doing on our own but with the input, expertise and knowledge of people from all across society. We have our Guardian Council of influential individuals who ensure that we always seek to do the right thing, and that we are transparent about what we are doing and why. We also have an internal trust committee, who oversee the development and implementation of our ethical approaches. Earlier this year, we held two roundtables with experts in their fields to discuss our approach to responsible research and the development of AI tools. We wanted to share the outcomes, so here they are.   The first roundtable: An introduction to our age estimation tech Gavin Starks, the newest addition to our Guardian Council, hosted this roundtable in January, which brought together the likes of Yo-Da, the University of Warwick and Home Office Biometrics Ethics Committee, Women Leading in AI, the University of Keele, and techUK – to name a few. The AI tool we discussed was our revolutionary facial age estimation technology (formerly known as Yoti Age Scan). It is currently available for over 13 year olds but we are looking at opening it up to younger children too. We want to ensure that people understand exactly how it works and can be reassured by the steps we’ve taken to mitigate bad outcomes for individuals. We’ve also published a white paper, which you can find here. In the session, we demoed a self-checkout machine that had been integrated with our facial age estimation, so everyone could see exactly how the technology worked. We then looked at the white paper to make sure everyone had a more in-depth understanding. This roundtable was hugely insightful and left us with a lot to think about. We’ve been taking steps to ensure our approach to responsible AI is as robust as possible. The session also raised a discussion about how we obtain user consent to use their data for R&D purposes. We’re now working on granular opt-out choices for individuals.   The second roundtable: Ethical challenges  We’re really proud of the positive impact our facial age estimation is already having, such as our work with Yubo in making their community is safe for everyone. However, at the moment our age estimation technology only works for people over 13 years old. We want to make sure that it works for everyone. Ensuring our facial age estimation works for under 13s, and doing so in our usual responsible way, involves lots of challenges. This led us to hold our second roundtable, to focus on what these challenges might be before we cross them. We were lucky to have Gavin Starks host again and were joined by representatives from the Children’s Commissioner’s for England, the NSPCC, the ICO and GCHQ, amongst others.   Here’s what happened We organised the session using a framework created by Doteveryone, a London-based think tank that champions responsible technology to build a fairer future. Once we explained the age estimation technology behind our product and grounded it in the wider context, we split the group into smaller groups. Then we horizon scanned for the intended and unintended positive and negative  consequences of developing and deploying our facial age estimation for under 13s. Just like the first roundtable, the session involved deep deliberation and produced some valuable insights. One of the unintended positive consequences of using our facial age estimation for under 13s was that it might increase the autonomy of children at a time when they are forging their own identities. However, we also raised the issue that the technology might facilitate the exclusion of young people from digital spaces.   What’s next? We’ll use this feedback to help us make age estimation for under 13s as robust as possible. We’ve got a lot planned, such as further sessions with industry leaders. We’ll keep you posted on our progress and would love to hear your thoughts.

4 min read
Reflections on the launch of our digital identity Fellowship Programme

Reflections on the launch of our digital identity Fellowship Programme

Earlier this year, after an extended period of ­research and evaluation, we announced the launch of a new Social Impact Strategy. With an unashamed grassroots focus, each activity was designed to help us better understand, support and empower individuals and organisations working on critical issues of identity, primarily in the Global South. A flagship activity from the Strategy is a Fellowship Programme which we launched in April. Over a two-month application period, we invited proposals for research, media, policy or development solutions based on four key themes related to identity or digital identity. With a preference for applicants from the Global South, outputs from the Fellow’s activities could be anything from a technical platform, a report, a website, a book, a policy paper, a film or any other medium relevant to the proposal.   What we were looking at Unlocking the challenges of providing and managing identity solutions among refugee, migrant, marginalised or economically exploited communities or individuals. Studying the difficulties experienced by indigenous communities in establishing and proving identity, as well as claiming any state benefits they may be eligible for. Unpicking what ‘digital identity’ and identity more broadly means to communities in developing countries (including those living in or close to the last mile) and the NGOs and local organisations providing services to them. Any other issues which warrant investigation which are not yet part of the wider digital identity debate.   Last weekend the two-month application window closed with a flurry of 76 applications in the final 48 hours. Overall, we received over 120 applications from over 30 countries providing us with some fascinating insight into the kinds of challenges, issues and opportunities that mattered most to the people closest to them. Outputs ranged from websites, apps, research papers, books and documentary films, all reflecting the creativity of the applications and the diversity of the areas of study. If anyone ever doubted that citizens in the Global South lacked the imagination, motivation, drive and passion to be part of a digital identity debate which will – in many cases – deeply affect them, this is proof otherwise. A number of applicants proposed researching national digital identity solutions at differing stages of rollout, such as those already in use (India), those in the process of being implemented (Kenya and Ghana) and those in the process of considering or planning and implementation (Namibia). From the initial field of 120+ applications we compiled a shortlist of 54 who will now be reviewed by our expert selection panel. With only three Fellowships available, this will not be an easy task. Shortlisted applications were those which included the required proposal, CV and reference documents, which met one of the thematic themes, and which gave a strong outline of the work they intended to do, how they proposed to do it, and what the output will be. Close connections to the theme of the proposal – both personally and geographically – was also considered an advantage.   Summary of shortlisted applications Total number of shortlisted applications: 54 Percentage of applicants by gender: 34% female and 66% male Number of countries from the Global South represented: 26 Countries represented: Philippines, Mexico, Egypt, Guatemala, Ecuador, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Honduras, Nigeria, El Salvador, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, Nepal, Tanzania, South Africa, Ghana, Myanmar, Argentina, Brazil, Slovakia, Cambodia The range of proposals varied widely and included: Helping migrants rebuild trust and reputation. The pros and cons of digital identity among Afghan refugees. Studying the challenges in the rollout of Kenya’s ‘Huduma Namba’ national digital identity system. Public perceptions of digital identity in Malawi. Difficulties in registering Nigerian citizens in identification programmes. Advancing digital identity for financial services in South Africa. Digital identity in support of street children in Ethiopia. Digital identity opportunities in Brazilian favelas and among indigenous communities. Outputs covered everything from books, documentary films, handbooks, research papers, websites to apps.   Lessons learnt As with many first-time programmes such as this, there are things we could have done differently. Lessons learnt this year, which we can apply to the 2020 Programme rerun, include: Put the words ‘digital identity’ in the Programme title More than a dozen applications had no connection to digital identity (agricultural and environmental projects dominated here), which is a shame given the time and effort put into them. Ask for expressions of interest We worked hard to reach our intended audience, but despite our ongoing efforts we had little sense of the progress we were making in real-time. Asking people to contact us with their intention to submit an application would have helped us monitor progress and balance effort. Ask where they heard about the Programme It would have been helpful to know, particularly ahead of next year’s Programme, how applicants had heard about us. We can still do this, but next time we will ask as we go. Word of mouth is the best promotion medium for ‘hard to reach’ audiences We leveraged a number of channels in our efforts to promote the Programme, including promotions on Twitter and YouTube (63,000 impressions and 29,000 views respectively), although it wasn’t clear how effective this might be in directly leading to applications. We also shared the news on DevNetJobs which took the message deeper into our intended audience and shared the news with the media. Primarily though, most of our efforts were put into leveraging personal contacts and networks, which we believe was most effective. Next steps From this week, the selection panel will vote for their top three candidates, along with a backup list of a further five, reporting back by the end of July. Official offers will then be made and the one-year Fellowships should begin by the end of August. Given the large number of applicants who won’t be successful, and the high quality of many of these, we’ll also be looking at whether we can be creative with one or two of the positions. For example, if some proposals might work as six month positions, we can split the funding to cover two Fellows rather than one. We have budgeted £30,000 as the annual stipend per Fellow, plus £5,000 expenses on top. If you’re interested in supporting a Fellow then please do let us know. You can download a summary of the shortlist here. While the selection panel carry out their assessments, we will attempt to secure external funding to expand the cohort. With the wide range of countries and focus areas, supporting a Fellow in a country where you have an interest, or are active, might present a great CSR or philanthropic opportunity.

6 min read
Yoti accepted on the government's G-Cloud Framework

Yoti accepted on the government's G-Cloud Framework

Yoti is pleased to announce that it has once again been approved to list services under the Crown Commercial Services G-Cloud framework. G-Cloud allows UK public sector bodies to choose and buy cloud computing services without the need for a lengthy procurement process. It provides a quick and easy route to market, access to the latest technology and reduced cost of ownership. Since its inception in 2012 there has been £4.72bn worth of sales through the framework with 45% of the spend awarded to SMEs. A range of Yoti services, covering identity verification, authentication, e-signing and age estimation are now available, via the digital marketplace on G-Cloud 11. To find out more about the Yoti services on offer visit the Digital Marketplace or contact Gav Watts at gavin.watts@yoti.com. Founded in 2014, we are on a mission to become the world’s trusted identity platform. Our free digital identity app, with over 4.5 million downloads, is the new, safer way to prove your age online, check out faster with age-restricted items at supermarkets and save time and money proving your identity to businesses. It brings safer connections with the people you meet online as well as enabling secure website login with your biometrics instead of remembering passwords.

2 min read
Yoti is partnering with Sparkle, the national transgender charity in the UK

Yoti is partnering with Sparkle, the national transgender charity in the UK

The way we prove our identity is broken. Outdated processes and documents, created long before the digital era, make proving who we are to businesses and other people challenging. Yoti wants to change that. We are focused on making it faster, easier and safer for anyone to prove their identity using their phone. Unfortunately, these challenges are amplified for transgender, non-binary and gender variant communities. We want to do what we can to help fix that. That’s why we’re partnering with national transgender charity, Sparkle, who work hard to build a more inclusive future.   Who is Sparkle? Sparkle promotes positive representation, awareness and acceptance of the transgender, non-binary, gender fluid and intersex community. They organise events and provide advice, training and support to businesses, individuals, non-profit organisations and the public sector. Every year, Sparkle host and run the Sparkle Weekend, the world’s largest free-to-attend celebration of gender diversity. Held in Sackville Gardens, in the heart of Manchester’s Gay Village, this year’s celebrations will be held from Friday 12th July to Sunday 14th July – and we’ll be there. Identifying and addressing transgender challenges We’re excited to be working with Sparkle. We’ll be researching the identity issues that are affecting the transgender community and working to try overcome these challenges. Yoti will be representing at Sparkle Weekend in the Self-Care Zone, promoting the Yoti app as a method of identification to Sparkle Ball ticket holders and Sparkle Weekend pageant contestants. We’ll be demonstrating how our tech can help people represent their true selves and researching how our age estimation technology works with a diverse audience. Real identities that you control On our mission to become the world’s trusted identity platform, we want to put individuals in control and help everyone present their real identity. Our app already solves some of the issues seen with a traditional ID document. We let you upload a current photo so your ID is always up to date with who you are and how you want to be seen. With the Yoti app, you’re in control to share only the details you want and nothing more. But we know there’s a long way to go and we want to explore how we can help solve these problems, like how some IDs require a specified gender (typically male or female) which doesn’t work for everyone.   AI for good The Yoti app helps people prove their identity and verify their age. Our new age estimation technology, Yoti Age Scan, uses artificial intelligence to anonymously compare your face to thousands of age verified faces and estimate your age. This can be used to access age-restricted goods, services and content online as well as in person, waving goodbye to “waiting for assistance” at the self-checkout and more. We are working hard to ensure it works fairly for everyone, no matter who they are. Look out for us at the Sparkle Weekender to give Yoti a try and hear more. Yoti has signed the Safe Face Pledge to ensure we remain true to our core principles. It will keep us actively focused on offering a safe and secure way to prove identity, ensuring we continue to keep our core principles in mind with everything we do: Always act in the interest of our users Encourage personal data ownership Enable privacy and anonymity Keep sensitive data secure Keep our community safe Be transparent and accountable Make Yoti available to anyone While this is the start of our journey, we look forward to seeing our partnership with Sparkle and their community grow. For more information about Sparkle and their inspiring work, please visit: https://www.sparkle.org.uk

4 min read

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