Re-creating the Trust of a Village in a Digital, Global Market: Insights From Trulioo CEO Steve Munford

By Emil Bjerg, journalist and editor, The European Business Review.

As economic growth rates decline, many companies find opportunities by expanding to new markets and geographies. But how do companies ensure trust as they expand digitally? We spoke with Trulioo CEO Steve Munford about an evolution in identity verification that’s similar to what took place with security software 20 years ago.

How do companies secure themselves in today’s volatile markets, where growth is slowing and depending on only a few regions might be a risky strategy? The answer for many companies is international expansion, Trulioo CEO Steve Munford says.

While international expansion delivers benefits for many companies, it also raises complex questions about trust and customer identity verification.

Munford foresees a future when all goods and services might be transacted digitally. The key to that, he says, is establishing “that trust you saw in a village because you knew everyone.”

People typically build trust through in-person meetings with, for example, banks, retailers or service providers. As companies increasingly tap into global markets, Trulioo is there to help businesses create the trust of a village digitally.

The digital economy is a market driver, but it can also, according to the Trulioo website, “prove to be a breeding ground for serious crimes like money laundering and terrorist financing.”

Decentralized currencies offer a great example of how the digital economy provides powerful business opportunities while also presenting opportunities for fraudulent activities. Constantly evolving Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations are necessary for businesses to make sure they’re engaging with lawful actors.

The key to global, digital expansion is trust, and Trulioo helps companies — including multiple Fortune 500 businesses — establish it through identity verification.

Some companies can handle identity verification in a few countries where they operate, but Munford says Trulioo helps companies answer the bigger question: “How do I perform identity verification around the world?”

Identity verification services build trust that allows people in remote regions to participate in global markets.

“On average, if I look at our top 20 or 30 customers, they are doing business with us in 30 countries,” Munford says. “What I hear from them is that it would be nearly impossible to figure out how to do identity verification in each of those countries. Identity is nuanced and country-specific in terms of the data available to identify someone and the regulations governing verification. We are the global leader in doing that.”

Identity verification services build trust that allows people in remote regions to participate in global markets.

“Just think about people making products or providing a service somewhere in a remote region of Asia, Africa or South America,” Munford says. “Wouldn’t it be great if they could participate and sell their products directly?”

Bringing the signals together in identity verification

Munford, who has 25 years’ experience in online security, explains the market in identity verification services by comparing it to the evolution in the digital security industry. Consumers and companies once used multiple solutions from multiple providers: one for a firewall, another for anti-spam software and others for ad blockers.

Those scattered solutions led to a “desire to get a more comprehensive platform to do security,” Munford says. That desire stemmed from the gaps between products. Even if each product worked, they didn’t necessarily work well as a whole.

Today, identity verification services are in their early stages with siloed products, Munford says. That can make onboarding unnecessarily complex because many companies take new customers through KYC, AML, document checks and sanction screenings from several different providers.

Some companies, though, “bring the signals together,” Munford says.

“That’s the opportunity we see in the identity market,” he says. “I think identity is going to go through the same transformation that security did about 20 years ago.”

Trulioo is closing the gaps by providing a comprehensive identity verification platform. The platform extends to business verification and identifying the people behind the business entity.

Global events such as Russia’s war in Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions on Russian companies and individuals are helping drive the demand for business verification. The Trulioo Know Your Business and AML watchlist tools help ensure companies aren’t doing business with bad actors.

Trulioo is helping companies achieve regulatory compliance around the world, build trust with customers and provide easy, low-friction user experiences.

Trulioo is helping companies achieve regulatory compliance around the world, build trust with customers and provide easy, low-friction user experiences. For companies that wonder how they can reach those three goals, Munford advises they take a risk-based approach to the friction level they apply during onboarding and throughout the customer journey.

That approach varies depending on shifting regulations around the world, different industries and different customer bases. Trulioo identity verification services, though, provide the agility companies need to adapt to different circumstances.

Navigating uncertain times

The past few years have been unpredictable. In that volatile climate, how does a company that helps other companies grow internationally ensure its own health?

Munford advises to “eat when served, raise capital when you can. That will help you withstand the turbulent times ahead.”

Trulioo takes the approach of “be lean and lean in,” Munford says. He says the companies that do well are the lean ones that remain aggressive and keep their sights a couple years ahead. That approach has led Trulioo to foresee economic conditions and raise capital when the economy is booming.

Recent global developments favor the adoption of identity verification solutions. COVID-19 sped up digitization as face-to-face encounters, sales and services were limited globally. Parallel to that, cryptocurrencies grew in prominence and prompted heightened and shifting needs for global identity verification.

In a fast-paced, ever-evolving digital economy presenting new dilemmas and risks for globally expanding companies, Trulioo is prepared to help businesses meet whatever the future may hold.

Executive Profile

Steve_MunfordSteve Munford, Chief Executive Officer of Trulioo.
Steve is an accomplished leader in security and enterprise software with extensive experience leading companies through rapid growth. He is deeply engaged with product vision and execution, and his commitment to high standards has helped him lead companies to realize their maximum potential. Steve is active in the community as a board member at Covenant House, a development committee member for Social Venture Partners and a member of the Science World Advisory Council.

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