In response to growing levels of fraud across the globe, Trustfull is helping companies across different industries assess risks and provide a safer online experience.
The global tech space continues to evolve at a rapid pace, presenting a wide range of opportunities across industries. But for many, it is difficult to keep up with the pace of progress. To understand more about how firms like Trustfull are helping to close the gap and keep companies safe from fraud, we hear from Marko Maras, its founder and CEO.
An expert in the power of digital experiences, Marko founded Trustfull to help businesses reduce risk by analysing the valuable information found in a customer’s digital footprint and combatting the increasing threat of sophisticated digital fraud.
Tell us more about your company and its purpose
The pandemic fast-tracked everyone’s understanding of the importance of digital channels, and fintech was one of the industries that was quick to adapt. However, not all businesses were prepared for digitalisation, leaving them prone to a whole new set of fraud types, such as synthetic identity fraud, money muling, account takeovers, and fraudulent transactions.
Trustfull was born out of this unmet market need, addressing the challenges digital-first companies face in acquiring, onboarding, and protecting their business from casual and organised fraud.
We provide our clients with better data for making decisions while minimising the friction associated with security and maximising the assurance levels about their users. We do this by analysing users’ digital footprints across phone, email, IP, device, and browser data — allowing a real-time and truly 360-degree understanding of the customer.
What are some of your recent achievements you’d like to highlight?
We generated early traction, which allowed us to raise two funding rounds from reputable investors in a relatively short period of time. This enabled us to make significant C-Suite level and senior hires to kick-start our international expansion. We’re proud to have been able to position ourselves on the regtech landscape quickly and be recognised as a go-to partner for digital-first enterprises, all while maintaining a lean operation.
How did you get into the fintech industry?
I had always been in the tech space when I founded Onebip, a start-up pioneering the mobile payment industry. This endeavour provided me with an immersive education in the intricate world of digital transactions. It allowed me to delve deeper into the nuances of payment gateways, compliance protocols, and the broader ecosystem that facilitates seamless financial transactions in the digital realm.
This knowledge base was instrumental in building a foundation of expertise that would later prove invaluable in my transition into the fintech industry. Complementing my journey in online payments was my foray into the dynamic world of adtech with my second start-up Audiens. Recognising the pivotal role that advertising technology plays in the digital economy, I honed my skills in data-driven marketing strategies, ad placement optimisation, and leveraging emerging technologies for effective audience targeting.
The depth of understanding I gained in online payments, coupled with the innovative strides made in adtech, laid the groundwork for a transition that was not only strategic but also fortified by a wealth of expertise and a network of industry connections. These experiences provided the critical foundation for my successful entry into the fintech landscape.
What’s the best thing about working in the fintech industry?
Fintech is an inspiring industry to be in as an entrepreneur, as it allows you to dive deep and go vast in a setting that is filled with win-win opportunities across verticals. The fintech ecosystem is not necessarily about one universal winner, but instead many verticalised and sub-verticalised players with the ability to complement each other.
For a company like Trustfull, it’s an exciting space to be in as we complement and support secure growth in other verticals such as banking, payments, crypto, online lending, and buy now pay later (BNPL).
What frustrates you most about the fintech industry?
Speaking as a company with European roots, I’m not happy about the pace that we see in Europe when it comes to fintech adoption. This is especially evident in some verticals like mobile money penetration and fintech lending, where Europe significantly lags behind Asia-Pacific and North America. This lag is most likely due to Europe having a high pre-existing level of financial development, which could be the reason for the smaller market share for fintechs in areas such as payment and lending activities.
That said, Europe still accounts for about one-third of global non-cash payment transactions. In recent years, however, the trend of enabling regulations like PSD2 contributed substantially to breaking the silos dominated by the incumbents and opening of the EU-wide financial infrastructure, which is a sign of recognition by policymakers. But a lot of work is yet to be done in the field by fintechs themselves for opportunities to be captured.
How have your previous roles influenced your career?
I first cut my teeth in the dynamic world of start-ups with Onebip, where I was immersed in the fast-paced environment of mobile payments. Building on this foundation, I ventured into Audiens, a pivotal step that allowed me to delve deeper into the realms of data-driven marketing and audience intelligence.
This experience not only expanded my skill set but also honed my ability to navigate complex market landscapes. Now, with Trustfull, I find myself at the helm of an exciting new venture, ready to make waves in the industry. Each chapter of my journey has been a stepping stone, shaping me into the seasoned entrepreneur I am today, and I’m eager to continue this legacy of innovation, disruption, and growth.
What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
One significant entrepreneurial mistake I made was entering a new market category with limited available data to guide my decision-making. This lack of data made it challenging to accurately assess market demand, consumer behaviour, and potential competition. However, the apparent mistake ultimately led to unforeseen success.
The absence of established data forced me to rely heavily on intuition, creativity, and a keen understanding of emerging trends. It encouraged me to approach the market with a fresh perspective, unburdened by preconceived notions or industry norms — often how innovation is stifled. In the absence of extensive data, my team adopted a highly agile and experimental approach by launching a minimum viable product (MVP), gathering feedback from early adopters, and iterating rapidly based on their input. This iterative process allowed us to fine-tune our offerings in real time, aligning them more closely with the evolving needs and preferences of our target audience.
This freedom led to the development of unique features and solutions that set us apart from competitors, and our entry into a relatively data-sparse market allowed us to establish a foothold before larger, more established players recognised the potential. By the time they caught wind of the emerging trend, we had already solidified our position and garnered a loyal customer base.
In retrospect, this entrepreneurial mistake taught me the invaluable lesson of embracing uncertainty by leveraging creativity in the absence of concrete data, and reinforced the notion that calculated risks, coupled with an adaptive and experimental mindset, can be powerful drivers of entrepreneurial success.
What are the next key talking points or challenges for your industry as a whole?
Regulators are noticing rising challenges with regard to fraud and using data, and I believe that a new wave of regulations will follow. The European Commission earlier this year published proposals for a third Payment Services Directive (PSD3) and a Payment Services Regulation (EU PSR) that introduces a raft of new measures designed to prevent or reduce payment fraud, including verification of payee details for credit transfers.
On the other side of the ocean, the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is on the cusp of redefining liability in peer-to-peer (P2P) transaction fraud claims. Beyond financial services, the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) currently looks like one of the world’s toughest pieces of legislation targeting big tech and will most likely result in a non-banking equivalent of open banking.
Therefore, our challenge at Trustfull is to meet these issues head-on and be ready to facilitate the changes that new regulations will undoubtedly bring.
What has the future got in store for your company?
With the global digital identity management solutions market projected to reach $70.8billion by 2030, Trustfull is poised to lead the charge in ensuring safer digital experiences for many other fintechs and digitally transformed financial institutions. We’re already seeing wide adoption of our technology across the entire customer journey, supporting various use cases from onboarding to vetting transaction attempts.