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Fintech Companies Join Forces to Tackle Human Trafficking

Freedom ID is launched by a consortium of global fintech, regtech, cybersecurity and Identity providers. They have joined forces to bring technology to the fight against human trafficking and provide support to individuals seeking safe passage and refuge.

Freedom ID was initially developed to help protect Ukrainian refugees and now has the goal of becoming the global standard in safeguarding vulnerable people displaced as a result of any crisis. Zenoo’s digital onboarding platform which powers Freedom ID is used by some of the world’s largest companies including NASA, Experian, and the London Stock Exchange to streamline identity verification, mitigate risk, and accelerate customer acquisition.

This same technology has been harnessed to support potential victims of human trafficking and other criminal acts and help fight against these crimes. The platform is integrated into both government databases and commercial technologies that are used for onboarding customers in banking, travel, e-commerce, and other industries.

Founding members

In addition to Zenoo, the founding members of the Freedom ID consortium include Seattle-based Vouched, a global leader in identity verification, KYC, and AML; VU Security, a cyber security company headquartered in Buenos Aires, Argentina; GBG, a global identity verification and fraud prevention company based in London; Shufti-Pro, a digital KYC and AML service provider also based in London; German-based Desko, a provider in ID document technologies, and other leaders in identity verification and management.

Additional pro bono services are provided by the international law firm Debevoise & Plimpton and the global communications agency Montieth & Company. AND Digital provided pro bono IT development services for the initial build and The Seneca Trust provided Freedom ID with a donation for the initial start-up costs.

While Zenoo focuses on capturing user information, the other fintech partners provide identity verification solutions, enabling Freedom ID to conduct the necessary checks to prevent criminal activity.

Integrated Platform

The platform can easily integrate other technologies and data sources and provides a powerful easy-to-use solution for governments, NGO’s and other organisations in their fight against human trafficking and is free for use by social networks, accommodation hosts, and volunteers helping to protect Ukrainians from these threats.

Many of the websites that accommodation agencies set up in response to the war in Ukraine are grassroots initiatives and it is challenging for these unregulated entities and their websites to identify exploitative hosts without ID verification.

Only the beginning

Stuart Watkins, Zenoo CEO, said: “Times of mass migration as refugees flee war are prime territory for highly sophisticated criminal organisations to take advantage of vulnerable women and children. By verifying the identities of accommodation hosts we are reducing the risk of trafficking. On top of this, we know that millions of displaced refugees will move from one accommodation provider to another over the coming years, and this process of ID verification must continue in line with this.”

Watkins added: “This is only the beginning of the journey. It is a joint effort and we are genuinely humbled to be working with some of the world’s leading technology providers to offer a solution to make the movement of people safer for volunteers and displaced refugees.”

Freedom ID partners with the same technology financial institutions use to achieve compliance with anti-money laundering requirements and border control agencies to verify individuals.

Help for refugees

Jo Ann Barefoot, Founder and CEO of the Alliance for Innovative Regulation, said: “The Ukrainian crisis reminds us that the work Zenoo does is part of a massive effort emerging all over the world to work toward better forms of identity authentication. We’ve known for years that electronic verification can help with refugee situations, including ones where there is high concern that refugee populations may include significant numbers of would-be terrorists and criminals.”

Ian Bearder, a software developer and co-founder of Ukraine Shelter, a website helping Ukrainians displaced by the invasion said: “We launched Ukraine Shelter in the early days of the war to help friends and family find shelter in West Ukraine and Europe.

“We were overwhelmed with the response and support we received, but as we grew, we quickly understood the need to verify hosts and provide additional safety and security measures. Freedom ID integrates seamlessly with our sign-up process, so we didn’t need to reinvent the wheel and our hosts are able to verify their ID and address details quickly and painlessly.”

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