“We wanted to ensure users could be verified anywhere”: Stephen Stuut, CEO, Jumio

Stephen Stuut is the CEO of leading digital identity verification company Jumio. He has a wealth of experience in the financial services industry and is a leading senior technology executive with an extensive track record of transforming companies into profitable businesses with a clear market strategy.

PaymentEye sat down with Stephen at Money 20/20 to discuss his leadership, Jumio’s recent partnership with digital bank Monzo and the importance of building trust within a business.

Can you tell me about your career in fintech and your role as CEO of Jumio?

I previously worked at McKinsey & Company and at Deloitte (Braxton Associates). When I first arrived at Jumio there were some challenges to overcome, but I felt prepared to tackle them. The great positives of joining Jumio were how recognised and respected the brand is in the industry, and that we operate in a credible market.

The first job for any CEO is to understand what you can and can’t do. So I began with operations, examining whether we had the right executive team and the right resources. I’m a business development-oriented CEO, I’m at more trade shows than before, and I enjoy that part of my job: talking to competitors, partners and customers.

Jumio recently announced a partnership with Monzo. How did that partnership come together?

Monzo is a great customer of ours and a very strong digital bank. I call them attackers; the industry calls them challenger banks. As they only have a digital presence, they need to use technology that’s advanced on a digital front, and that’s where we come in.

Monzo is a great advocate for Jumio. It has recently rolled out the new current account facility, and we have been speaking to them about Know Your Customer (KYC) and how it’s incredibly important for a fintech. I believe we fit nicely with their ambitions.

The road to success if you’re a challenger bank is discovering what customers’ dissatisfaction with traditional banks is, and then giving them exactly what they want to meet that need. For example, customers want easy and frictionless transactions. Something I always emphasise in the conversations I have is that there are lots of players in the space, so you need competitive advantage in customer experience and, for that, you have to test in the real life situations. “Testing in the wild” as we call it, enables you to see how technology functions in real scenarios and gives that competitive edge that customers recognize and respond to.

Artificial Intelligence has been a trending topic this year. How do you use AI?

We do a lot of machine learning on the computer vision side. However, we’re not a computer vision automation business, we’re an accurate verification business, so if it fails we let human interaction step in. When we introduce a new technology, we still have the human interaction, and then if it works, we’ll back up with machine learning but keep looking over it.

Jumio was first in this space to use facial recognition. We compare your face in a selfie with that on the ID, whether you have a high-quality image or not.  Many people know that is not the case on your driver’s license. It may be an old picture of you. Our technology also identifies and proves that you’re not a video, or that you’re not moving a photograph around.

And then there’s the document verification for documents such as utility bills and bank statements, which we introduced in February and had been a pain point for all customers. There are 3,000 different utility bills in the US alone!

Will Jumio continue to grow as a digital verification business or will it adopt in-store authentication?  

We don’t do anything on-site. The software is designed for handsets, laptops and apps, so we’re operating a digital-only world.

From the day we launched, we wanted to ensure users could be verified anywhere, and that it could be carried out using Jumio software. That also distinguishes us from our competitors: A lot of our competitors say: “We can verify customers automatically, as long as you use an iPhone or an Android.” Or: “Ensure you have good lighting.” We say: “You’ve got a really old laptop and you’re in Starbucks? That’s okay.”

We also cover multi-channel, whereas our competitors don’t. So there is a use case of a bank that has introduced us in a lobby. Consumers don’t enjoy banking in branches anymore. You’re usually waiting for your turn to go to the person at the desk, they ask for your ID and they go make a copy of it then give it back to you. How would they know whether you have a fraudulent ID? They’re not qualified to make that decision. You can have a fake ID without them knowing.

We process over 3,000 different document templates. If you go to rent a car in London and you have an Alaska-issued driver’s license, does the person verifying your ID have any idea what that is supposed to look like? No. How about a fraudulent one? How about if it’s a Pakistani driver’s license, or a Bolivian one? We do 20-40 Pakistani driver’s licenses every day. We also know the fraudsters who specialise in these driver’s licenses and how to stop their work.

How important is building trust with your clients?

Trust is the foundation for us to show that our customers can rely on us, and also to make sure that they can trust their customers as well.

This is very important and it’s not only in banking. About 40% of our business is financial. The other 60% is the sharing economy, such as Airbnb, and travel, such as United Airlines and easyJet.

As CEO, how would you describe Jumio in three words?

I’d probably say largest, innovative and quality.

Quality is essential because fraud is around 1%; 99% are real customers. And if you reject them falsely or can’t figure out whether they’re fraudulent, that’s costing a business. We ensure that you don’t lose good customers. We give you an answer for 100% of IDs.

We’re innovative because we were the first to use facial recognition. We were the first to be able to read the chip in the passport, by which I mean you can touch your phone against your passport and it reads the chip and interacts with the international database to validate that here is a genuine passport with that name on it.

Are you ready to meet identity & authentication requirements under PSD2 & GDPR?

Find out how to Solve the Identity Problem in PSD2 & GDPR by registering your place now for our complimentary Jumio webinar in association with PaymentEye.

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