A Q&A with miiCard CEO James Varga. The Edinburgh–based company was founded in September of 2011 and recently raised $2.5 million in additional Seed funding.
SUB: Please describe what miiCard is, and the value proposition you bring to the online identity space.
Varga: miiCard is an online identity verification service that proves real identities purely online in real time. You can think of it as a digital passport or virtual driver’s license to build trust on the web. Your miiCard lets you prove you are who you say you are in your social and professional networks, and replaces the traditional offline identity checks associated with applying for a range products and services in financial and professional services, and ecommerce, where the transaction value exceeds the anti-money laundering threshold.
When distributing services such as financial products online, miiCard directly addresses the dropout experienced—70-to-90 percent as soon as the process goes offline, the operational cost—£50 to £80 for executing a current account, and the fraud rates—£1.3bn financial fraud in 2010.
SUB: Who are your target users?
Varga: miiCard is available today for consumers to share with each other to create trust online, so we are currently targeting users in a range of industries where trust is important like social networking, dating and trading on auction sites. With our recently introduced Social Validations for Twitter and LinkedIn there is lots of interest from people who want to verify their identity and prove their accounts in their social networks.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Varga: There are a number of companies offering services around proving identity. However, we’ve not seen any other purely online, real time service which can match the high level of assurance of identity offered by miiCard.
SUB: What differentiates miiCard from the competition?
Varga: These other identity providers and credit reference agencies validate information about someone—such as their address, credit rating and, more recently, some have introduced behavioural aspects such as questions about transaction history. They do not validate that the customer is who they say they are. miiCard is in a truly unique position to be able to provide primary identity verification online and in real time to an Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer standard.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Varga: The company was founded in September 2011—the first round funding was completed and the development team employed. The private beta launched in November 2011—this phase was used to solicit feedback from users, test the user experience and communication of proposition to consumers. The open beta launched February 2011. This consisted of continued development of the miiCard service, using an iterative approach to refine existing features and add new features, quality assurance testing, and user surveys and engagement to continuously improve the service and user experience.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for miiCard? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Varga: I was struck by the ever-present puzzle of how to prove identity online to the same level of authority as a driving license or passport would do offline, and make the buying and selling of financial products faster and easier.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Varga: As a new proposition there is a general lack of awareness around proving real identity online. We’re addressing this by educating consumers on the benefits of proving real identity online and how this is different to proving information about you—like credit reference agencies and other identity verification services do—through speaking opportunities, public relations, blogging and social media. As we strive to build trust in miiCard this has proved an excellent opportunity to position the company as industry experts bringing a new level of trust and convenience to the Internet.
SUB: You just raised $2.5 million in additional Seed funding. What are your plans for the new funds?
Varga: The investment supports miiCard’s expansion into the U.S. and will enable rapid growth of the business, across a range of markets including financial services, ecommerce, social networking and dating, where online trust is now critical.
SUB: What are your goals for miiCard over the next year or so?
Varga: miiCard will become the new standard in online identity and trust, building a user base directly and through partnering vendors using an aggressive, multi-channel distribution strategy.
miiCard – www.miicard.com