"Biometrics will help alleviate problems with fraud": Interview with CrossVerify CEO Carl Weir

By Alara Basul | 2 February 2017

Carl Weir was VP, EMEA Partnering and Business Development at Uphold Inc until June 2016. Prior to Uphold, he held senior positions within the financial community in Global Tier 1 institutions in EMEA, including Senior Vice President, Business Development Marco Polo New World and EMEA Head of Cross Asset FIX Connectivity for HSBC Global Banking & Markets. He is currently the CEO of CrossVerify. 

Tell us about CrossVerify and how you got started in the industry.

CrossVerify is a biometrics authentication company using blockchain technology. There are specific emphases on improving AML and KYC in verified data. That can also apply to any sense of interpretation. The thinking behind Crossverify centres on how you could use the immutability, anonymity, and security of blockchain, focusing on specific issues such as KYC.

If you could create a trust network that did that, and abide by the data privacy rules for the owners of the data, who are individuals, then you scale the network across multiple sectors. 

What are your predictions for fraud trends in payments?

I think biometrics will help alleviate a lot of problems with fraud. The volume of UK fraud in 2016, based on the Experian fraud indicator, was £192bn. To put that into perspective, that money would pay for the NHS for the next year and a half. 

Similarly, relating to banking fraud, where do you stop the bots? You have companies who can create your credit rating based on your telephone number and social media profile. That’s great, except Facebook have 1.3bn customers of whom 400 million are bots. Twitter have 800 million customers, of which 450 million are bots. Where do you stop that? The best case for decreasing fraud doesn't focus on it being an overnight thing, what we’re focusing on now is creating a digital identity.

Digital identity is split into three groups: Companies and individuals, transactions, and assets. When you can look into either a company, or an individual, or a sales person and link the transaction to the asset, that’s when you can really start to stop fraud. Because commercial fraud is present in both counterfeiting and in transactions. And that’s what a lot of people have started to look at. Our goal is to scale up with hand selected companies and governments in order to do that.

Then we focus on individuals, as individuals have an option to choose different companies. Companies are looking to incentivise them via loyalty plans. If you kept getting a notification on an app saying “please approve” then you may not, but if you were getting a notification saying “please approve and here’s 1000 nectar points” then you’d be more inclined to do so.

To also put it into perspective, in 2010, the unredeemed points were worth $700bn.

A particular UK company has partnered with a foreign exchange company and a prepaid card provider for their air miles. At some point this year, you’ll be able to go to an ATM with that prepaid card and take out your air miles as cash. So if you can incentivise people with loyalty points, which they can redeem as cash, then you’re going to want to use that app as much as possible. 

Do you think 2017 will be the breakthrough year for blockchain?

Yes. In 2017 I believe we’ll see a lot of concept become commoditized. A payment provider we work with asked us: “If we used the features you have, when would we start making revenue?” and I said “15 seconds after you load the first one.” The way we’ve created our model is a service model, and we’ve priced it so low that any company can use that security as a featured revenue. So if we charge a penny, they can charge a pound, and so forth. 

There’s a lot of good tech out there, and a lot of money is spent on financial inclusion which is the right way to go. I think in 2018 there will be a VHS beta moment. Right now, apart from bitcoin and blockchain, you’ve got Hyperledger, Etherium, Eres, but what will be the beta and what will be the VHS? I think you’ll see gateway tools coming in at the end of this year. 

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