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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, Growth and Partnerships Executive at Yoti, 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.

7 min read
Yoti partners with good2rent

Yoti is helping to make everybody good2rent

Renting a property has long been the norm, especially amongst Millennials. But tenants are facing fierce competition when it comes to securing their dream rental home and many are losing out. A huge contributing factor to this situation is the existing prolonged ID & referencing system. Something Yoti has enabled good2rent to make faster, easier and safer. good2rent is a tenant-led referencing solution for the digital age that puts renters back in control. Tenants use Yoti, a digital identity app, to easily ID themselves so they can then start building their renting profile. Their good2rent profile includes previous landlord & employer references, credit check, affordability statement, and of course Yoti verified nationality & ID. Tenants can then share this verified profile as many times as they wish with the letting agents & landlords during their house hunt.   Building a Good2rent reference profile with Yoti We accept passports from over 140 countries worldwide, which means both UK and international tenants can create their Yoti. They can then get ahead of the competition by building and sharing their good2rent reference profile when booking a viewing. good2rent referencing is held in a tenant’s secure vault and is fully portable and built year on year, enabling the tenant to prove a true history of good tenancy. Letting agents and landlords will also save both time and money by ensuring tenants are matched in advance to the right properties for them, ensuring no unsuitable tenants are viewing properties. The Yoti ID element of good2rent also gives letting agents & landlords the added security of knowing who they will be showing around a property. You can find more information at www.good2rent.co.uk Gone are the days of the hassle, expense and repetitive paperwork of traditional referencing. In its place is a digital, portable, new way to rent that is easy, fast and fair. Empowering tenants, letting agents and landlords with every move.

2 min read
Yoti partners with Childline, get in touch with them at childline.org.uk or 0800 1111

NSPCC & Yoti working together to help keep children safe online

At Yoti, we’re committed to using our identity checking system as a force for good. We’re a B Corporation with a set of principles to guide us and a Guardian Council of respected and influential individuals to hold us to account. We’ve also made our platform free-of-charge for individuals and charities to use. We know that to really understand how our platform might be put to use to help solve local and global problems, we need to work with experts. So in February this year, we held a hack event to explore the challenges charities face checking ID and see how we might be able to help.   The NSPCC hack Lizzie and Jen from NSPCC arrived at the hack with a very specific challenge. NSPCC’s Childline had partnered with the Internet Watch Foundation to provide a route for young people to report for removal sexually explicit images of themselves on the internet. However, for the IWF to remove the image, you first need to prove you’re under 18. Back then, that involved asking the young person to send a scan of their passport, which they worried put people off submitting the removal request. Through the hack week, Lizzie and Jen worked with graduate developers from our partners, the Founders and Coders bootcamp, to thrash-out a basic design for an app to enable young people to prove their age and complete the removal request form in a smooth, anonymous online flow. They pitched their idea to a panel of Yoti staff and founders, who are passionate about online safety for children. They were instantly taken with the potential of the idea, and awarded a prize of a month of developer time to build the idea to a working prototype. We were thrilled when, a month of development and some user-testing later, NSPCC said they’d like to go live with a fully functioning version of the app. The pilot app is now live. Young people can use the tool on desktop computers and on their mobile phones to quickly and simply prove they’re under 18 years old and submit a request to remove the image that’s causing them distress. Positive collaboration We were so happy to help NSPCC with this impactful use case, and look forward to completing more projects like this. If you’re a charity with challenges in checking people’s ID, please get in touch.

3 min read
Yoti holding inaugural hack week

Yoti’s Inaugural Hack Week: Lessons Learned So Far

In February, we held our first hack week here at Yoti, focusing on the the challenges that charities face with verifying people’s identity. We think that the hack method is an under-exploited tool in tech companies Social Responsibility toolkit. We have a hunch that we could use the method both to support charities to deploy technology to solve local and global problems, and nurture their confidence to embrace digital technology more broadly. So our inaugural hack was our first opportunity to test our hypothesis.   Our Hack Week Format MONDAY Our Hack week partners, Founders and Coders CIC, spent the day in our offices with our developers, familiarising themselves with the Yoti identity verification platform. TUESDAY We were joined by our eight participating non-profits: GoodGym, NSPCC, vInspired, the Scouts, Centrepoint, Freegle, Forum for the Future and CharityBase for a Design Hack Day. Following a presentation about Yoti, Founders and Coders supported the participants (with the aid of lots of post-it notes!) to design apps that used Yoti to solve challenges they were facing with verifying identity. At the end of the day, the participants pitched their designs. The most promising five were taken forward to the next part of the week. WEDNESDAY – FRIDAY AM The five shortlisted charities worked remotely with the Founders and Coders developers to work their ideas into prototypes FRIDAY PM We all met again at our offices. The charities pitched their prototypes to a panel, and the most promising two ideas each won two months of developer time to work their ideas into a Minimum Viable Product.   What went well Selection: We selected our participant charities based on an expression of interest form. Participants reported that this was useful in ensuring they arrived with thought-through challenges. Size: The number of participating charities – eight – seemed to work well. Participants said that there was variety of challenge, whilst being small enough for them to get to know other participants, the Founders and Coders team and Yoti staff. Partners: Founders and Coders were brilliant partners for the hack. Participants said they liked the pace and content of the Tuesday design hack, and the support of the team over the course of the week. Our other contacts in the Tech for Good community including Technology Trust, NPC, CAST, NCVO were also pivotal in promoting the event. Location: Running the hack in our offices meant we were able to draw on internal expertise when needed, and provide an inside view of a technology company to the participants. Our obligatory tech startup bean bags and table tennis also provided a fun venue! 100% of participants reporting back said they would recommend our Hack Week to colleagues in their/other organisations. Yeay!   Room for improvement Pre-hack prep: Some time was spent during the week a) downloading Yoti and b) answering questions about the company and the field of digital identity. We’re working on collating some preparatory guidance to help ensure future participants will feel fully briefed on the context prior to the week. We’ll provide more guidance on the structure of the week (and the fact that participant charities won’t be expected to code!), so participants are more informed of what to expect. Differentiation: We received some conflicting feedback. Some participants felt there was too much focus on technical terminology and process. Others wanted more opportunity to meet UX design specialists and face-to-face time with the coders. We’ll think about how we adapt elements of the week to suit different preferences. User-feedback: Ironically, while we were espousing the importance of user-centered design, we almost forgot to seek feedback from our participants. Fortunately, we caught ourselves in time, and made time for retrospectives and surveys, both from the participants and from the Founders and Coders cohort. We’ll be better about this next time! Tech for good Of course, it isn’t over yet! Our two winning charities are currently beavering away with Founders and Coders to create their MVPs, and we’ll blog again with case-studies of that process. But the experience so far has convinced us that there’s great potential for tech companies using hacks to support social good. If you’re a non-profit interested in participating in one of our Hack events, or a company thinking about using the hack method to support non-profits, we’d love to hear (and learn) from you!

4 min read

Safer Internet Day - Be the change: Unite for a better internet

Young people and the internet The Internet is a wonderful invention with endless possibilities and opportunities. And for young people it has become a fundamental part of their everyday life. But the internet is rife with dangers and warnings, and letting children loose on the internet with no protection or guidance is like letting them loose in a sweet shop and telling them not to touch anything. A few weeks ago, the ‘Growing Up Digital’ report released by the Children’s Commissioner said children are fending for themselves against online dangers, often signing away their privacy and agreeing to very unclear T&Cs – nearly 50% of 8 to 11-year-olds have reportedly agreed to social media firms’ vague Terms and Conditions. And it’s not just their privacy they are compromising. In just a few clicks and without many (if any) checkpoints, young children are able to see graphic pornographic material, advice that encourages eating disorders and self harm, excessive violence and race hate material – a harmful impact on any childhood. If that isn’t scary enough, the figures make for even more frightful reading… 73% of under 18s have watched porn One in 10 UK visitors to adult websites were children Nearly half of 11-16-year-olds had accessed an adult site   Safer Internet Day We’re proud to be a supporter of Safer Internet Day, coordinated in the UK by the Safer Internet Centre, where hundreds of schools and companies come together to raise awareness of online safety issues. Last year’s event reached 2.8 million children and 2.5 million parents in the UK. The theme this year, ‘Be the change: Unite for a better internet’ brings to light a fundamental question: just how can we work together to make the internet better, and safer, for children? “Websites need to take responsibility to protect younger users, providing peace of mind to children and parents. It’s critical that they invest in new security measures and innovations to make the internet a safer place for our children. The key point here is making sure only adults can access adult content, and we protect innocent children and their childhood. The Digital Economy Bill, which will force adult websites to include age verification checks, is one measure by the government looking to increase child protection online.” Robin Tombs, CEO Yoti. We must do more until this law comes into effect. Children should be guided on how to use the internet safely, and not just educated from their teachers or parents, but from websites and companies too. This means having clearer Terms and Conditions that can be read, and crucially be understood, by children. Companies should also consider what data they ask for from users; only asking for the information they actually need. I’m sure they don’t need to know your past three addresses, as well as your mother’s maiden name and job role. All they really need to know is that you are who you say you are. You can find out more about our work on child protection online here and more about Safer Internet Day here.

3 min read

Yoti Named As Digital Innovator 2016

Yoti has been named as one of the South East’s most visionary digital companies in the inaugural ‘Digital Innovators Power List’ launched today by international law firm Bird & Bird LLP and London-based news brand, City A.M. Revealed last night at a launch event hosted at Bird & Bird’s dynamic new space at 12 New Fetter Lane, London, and launched today on CityAM.com, the Power List identifies 20 companies based in London and the surrounding areas in the media, health tech, fintech, ed tech and cybersecurity and identity sectors that are leading the way in digital innovation. The shortlist was agreed by City A.M., Bird & Bird and supporting partners digital association Digital Catapult, tech PR agency Hotwire PR and information platform Springwise – after careful consideration on which companies, in their respective sectors, have the most captivating stories of innovation, are setting rather than following trends, demonstrate the most revenue potential, are home grown businesses and are creating a buzz in social media. Yoti will participate in a series of quarterly events hosted at Bird & Bird over the course of the year, where panels featuring representatives from the companies on the Power List will give their perspectives on the factors driving digital innovation in the City and how their creations are transforming everyday lives.

2 min read

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