Within the dynamic realm of fintech, businesses face a pressing challenge: establishing trust and conducting secure identity verification processes. As instances of fraud and financial crime continue to rise, there is an increasing demand for innovative solutions that can seamlessly verify the identities of customers from the very first interaction.
Colum Lyons is the CEO and founder of ID-Pal, an award-winning ISO 27001 certified identity verification solution that enables businesses to verify an identity in real time. Offering a blend of biometric, document and database checks to streamline AML and KYC in one GDPR-compliant solution, ID-Pal is available off-the-shelf and also integrates seamlessly with existing processes via an API or SDK..
Prior to founding ID-Pal, Lyons worked as a trader and stockbroker. He has over 20 years’ experience working in the financial markets and also has a deep understanding of financial services.
In this week’s In Profile, Lyons shares his passion for making identity verification simple, secure and convenient, as well as the importance of ‘having a plan’.
Tell us more about your company and its purpose
ID-Pal is an identity verification solution, designed to establish a relationship of trust from the very first touchpoint between a business and their customer.
For businesses, they need to know a customer is who they say they are through identity verification, which is crucial to help them fight fraud and financial crime. For customers, it is important their identity documents are being processed securely and the journey to verify their identity is easy to do on any device. This signals that your business prioritises safety and security of the highest standard at all touchpoints.
We designed our solution for any business to be able to deploy it same day. We offer a branded customer-facing app and use a unique blend of biometric, document and database checks to verify identities in real time. Organisations can also avail of our API or SDK to integrate with existing processes, and we are also available as an integration in the Salesforce AppExchange.
What are some of your recent achievements you’d like to highlight?
There are the usual founder achievements: your first hire, first office, first customer. But thanks to the work of the ID-Pal team, in the past 12 months we have delivered the key milestones that were set as goals to achieve way back in 2016: launching in the UK, Series A funding, and launching in the US would be the top ones.
As much as we can advocate for our solution and see where we are disrupting the market, it is the industry approval. Like ID-Pal ranking in the Deloitte Fast50 2023, the go-to ranking of Ireland’s 50 fastest-growing technology companies. In 2023, we also joined the CyberTech100, having already made the RegTech100 for 2023 and AIFinTech 100 in 2022, three lists of the 100 most pioneering businesses in their markets that decision-makers need to know about. These achievements prove that the mission is valid and our strategy for growth and international expansion is delivering in the right way for us.
We’re big fans of having a plan and working the plan, with our customers being the number one focus. I think the broader financial services industry is recognising that.
How did you get into the fintech industry?
I worked as a trader and stockbroker for all my career, and I’m a qualified charting analyst and qualified financial advisor. The challenge I faced to easily comply with anti-money laundering (AML) regulation drove me to find a solution to this, which was ID-Pal.
I couldn’t see any offering in the market that was compliant with GDPR, AML, and know your customer (KYC) regulation and was also available off-the-shelf. I understood the frustrations of complicated integrations – I knew I wanted to create a solution that was the complete opposite experience of that.
What’s the best thing about working in the fintech industry?
I thrive on innovation and moving forward – that is the fintech industry, it’s in the DNA. For me, that’s what’s best, you’re not burdened with the systems of the past and have the freedom to improve all the time.
As a fraud prevention solution for financial institutions, we designed our platform to be able to adapt and upgrade to the latest technologies with ease. Given how compliance requirements can change and combined with the ever-increasing sophistication of fraud, ID-Pal is built to innovate and optimise easily to the changing demands of the landscape.
What frustrates you most about the fintech industry?
Fintechs can be seen as the enemy, rather than an ally or a lynchpin, enabling innovation within existing processes and giving back much-needed resources.
We need to do work to repair our reputation in some ways. There was a lot of success for the first generation of fintechs, who were building their solution with an old market-fit in mind.
We often work with customers who have been given just the ‘building blocks’ for what they need and left to figure it out for themselves or ultimately pay more for any additional help to put it all together.
As a third-generation solution, our approach in creating ID-Pal is to be able to go live same day, no lengthy deployment times or complicated integrations. These costly delays can erode the drive and passion for change in an organisation, when they take up effort and resources. We allow you activate and customise what blocks you need or don’t need, as you see fit. It’s already built.
How have your previous roles influenced your career?
I worked for almost 20 years in financial services and this time and experience led me to where I am today. It’s that deep understanding of the challenges, the current offerings, the systems and AML compliance that gave me the grounding for what I wanted to achieve and what ID-Pal has become.
I’m lucky to have worked for excellent managers and with good people, who showed me how to operate with people, staff and customers in a transparent and honest manner. They shaped how I am as a CEO and greatly influenced how ID-Pal works today and the culture that exists throughout our team and that is unique to our company.
What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
Experiencing challenges that help you decide what not to do and what type of customer is not going to be good for your business specifically. You tend not to say no to business when you are starting out, but you have to also learn when you should say no in the future.
We are fortunate to have gotten so much from all our business relationships in terms of the doors they opened but we also now know, exactly what we won’t compromise on in the service we offer no matter how big that client is.
What has the future got in store for your company?
We launched in the UK in May 2022 and now over 30 per cent of our revenue is driven by businesses there. Similar success is already being seen in the US, where ID-pal recently launched.
We have a clear plan and we’re focused on the quality of our service, to always ensure that standard of security and compliance. Growth of our team, steady expansion – following our playbook for success that is market-tested. We are confident in our next milestones, given we have achieved all we aimed for to date.
What are the next key talking points or challenges for your industry as a whole?
The past few years were a challenge for businesses – overnight their businesses moved online and many did not have the structure in place to do business with customers securely.
There was an accelerated adoption of digital transformation and now fintechs are in the unique position of having that buy-in.
Specific to ID-Pal, the argument for using digital identity verification is now valid – it’s a necessity given the volume of fraud it prevents and reduces demand of resources on a risk team.
We saw the release of the UK’s national fraud strategy this month and while progress is good to see, the speed at which it’s being created is slow. A preventative approach for fraud over increasing the focus on reporting tools is needed.
I believe the human firewall is key to this: education on how fraud works, how to secure channels or platforms people use, these are the best defences against fraud if people know the size and scale and how it can occur. Especially as fraudsters are hunting for opportunities on a global scale, they only need to be right once. We need to be right all the time.