Like so many entrepreneurial ventures, there was a significant component of serendipity with the founding of Yoti. The happy collision of minds that have long been wrestling with similar issues from different perspectives and market sectors.
In January 2014, Robin and I were travelling in the US to check in with some of our Trumin customers. It was there, at a world leading obstacle race in California, that everything crystallised for Yoti. I was commenting on the frustrations that we always faced with accurately and expediently identifying ticket holders at events, and how I had wanted to create a trusted digital passport not just for the sector but also for other use cases with real social impact, such as voting. Robin explained how the gaming sector still relied on fiddly processes for AML and KYC, how useful a simplified digital identity service would be, and how he believed it should be free for individuals to use.
Noel Hayden immediately recognised the potential when we discussed it with him and, within a matter of weeks, what we had all presumed to be a project too far in scope and cost was re-qualified as a something that the market and society had an immediate need for. Robin stepped up to lead the venture as our CEO and has put together a team of extraordinary software developers, industry-leading security consultants and other clever minds who are passionate about our objectives.
We know that we need to be different, and act differently, to those who have attempted this before us. We believe that our founding values will help us create a sustainable business, scaleable products and a strong community of users:
Simpler. Reduce the number of passwords and usernames, and simplify identification processes.
Safer. Decrease instances of identity fraud, and offer an extra layer of security in our daily lives for children and adults.
Fairer. Educate and empower people to understand that they, the individual, should own and control their personal data – who they share it with and how much they share. We will never charge the individual to use Yoti, nor sell on the data they submit.
We’d also like Yoti be known for fair and good business practices, so we are proud to count ourselves as part of the B Corporation network – a group which is only open to those who meet rigorous standards of social performance, accountability and transparency.
Current affairs drive us to succeed. Children and young people spend so much time online, yet many of them are susceptible to potentially damaging situations such as easily accessing inappropriate or age-restricted content. The normalisation of using online platforms to meet, for leisure or business, also places adults at risk and recurring instances of ‘meetings gone wrong’ are never far from the media.
We know that the key to the success of this ambitious project lies in trust and such we have adopted a fairly radical set of principles. This is an endeavour where the importance of commercial return has been placed behind the importance of transparency, accountability and the maximisation of social impact. We’ve also set up a Council of Guardians who ensure that we uphold our values and that we’re always acting in the interests of our users.
In short, we promise Yoti will be simple, safe and fair.
Duncan Francis, Noel Hayden & Robin Tombs