In an interview with Insights Success, the CEO and Founder of The ID Co., James Varga shares the insights behind his triumphant dominance in the era of open banking. Through the innovative and reliable online identity verification services provider The ID Co, James envisions creating online trust by leveraging the data identity established through online bank accounts.
Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between Mark and Insights Success:
- Give a brief overview of your background and your role in the company.
I founded The ID Co. in 2011 with a mission to create convenience—to allow us as consumers to sign up to new products and services in seconds.
The ID Co. builds products based on (open) bank data that helps businesses like online lenders to onboard their customers efficiently by solving pains such as affordability and credit risk.
Our business service, DirectID, solves key business pains such as assessing customers’ affordability and verifying their account information, thereby offsetting credit risk. DirectID powers leading lenders such as Prosper, Marlette, Amigo, and more.
I am active in a number of local and global efforts to help people do more online, including the Fintech Delivery Panel (FDP), FDATA, Open Banking Excellence | Edinburgh, and Trust In Digital Life (TDL), whose mission is to create a trusted ecosystem that protects the data and assets of citizens and enterprises across Europe.
- How do you diversify your tech solutions that appeal to your target audience?
The products and solutions we build are based on the real world needs of consumers and businesses. It’s all about understanding the pain and going back to first principles. Once we understand that it’s easy for us to build products that solve those pains and diversify or extend the solution from there. To that end we have developed, and are in the stages of developing, several different products. At this time, our B2B offering is the DirectID platform, while on the consumer front we have built a personal finance management (PFM) app called NoMo. This helps bank customers to stay on top of their finances, offering a dashboard and advice on how much money you have in your account.
- Describe some of the vital attributes that every tech individual should possess.
Great technical people like to learn and answer questions, solve problems and be challenged. We all want to create great things especially when we are driven by a passion for technology and how it in all walks of life it is changing the world we live in. We conform to Lean and Agile and have weekly scrums to ensure that all staff know their priorities and how it fits into the bigger picture. As a company we’re also very nimble and have been able to respond to outside pressures very quickly. I’m not sure you’d see that in a bigger company.
- What were the past experiences, achievements or lessons that shaped your journey?
Each experience is a lesson and in this startup world, where you are always pioneering new ground, it is all about the lessons you learn along the way. That said it’s all about having and working with a great team – doing something you love and being true to yourself and vision. This is especially the case in the world of financial services where as a FinTech you have an uphill battle to change a risk-adverse by nature industry. We learn every day. Some of the learnings are small, and some of them are huge. But every bit of cumulative knowledge that we have, we ensure is understood by the team, and used to the benefit of the company.
- What were some of the primary challenges and roadblocks that you faced during the initial phase of your journey?
Timing and finding that elusive product-market fit that generates the ‘click’ moment where traction starts to accelerate is always the biggest startup challenge. Realising that you’re too early for the market, as we did a few years ago, and having to pivot is a huge challenge for any business. They say every startup has three near-death experiences. We have had two but are still here and thriving. Challenges and roadblocks can be found where ever you look for them. What’s more beneficial is being prepared to counter them and maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity.
- With an increasing number of pivotal and ground-breaking technological advancements, the role of technologists is continually evolving. How according to you, has this role changed over the years?
As technology becomes commoditized and functionality becomes a utility it’s becoming less and less about creating new technologies but finding the right solution for the right problem. Technologies have to understand the problem they are solving and the reasons or motivations behind them as there are always a thousand ways to create a solution.
- Where do you see yourself in the near future and what are its future goals?
We are in the middle of a global storm and huge, fundamental shift in the market. The global trend of Open Banking is opening up access to consumers bank data while at the same time GDPR and other consumer protections are putting more controls in place for the individual. It is within these two opposites that we operate. Consumers demand that banks are much savvier with their data, and some of the digital only banks are responding to this challenge. At the same time as creating products and services that will improve the lives of bank customer, we must also have data protection front and centre of our thinking. We are at the middle of that storm and it’s exciting. Our goal is to make these trends a reality.
- What is your advice for the emerging tech enthusiasts?
In any situation, I always try to go back to first principles so that I can move past the assumption and get to the problem. Once you have done this then you can embrace an agile approach to coming up with a solution.