How identity verification company Bureau verifies digital personas of customers for businesses

Using multiple parameters such as device, number, usage pattern and government-issued identity, Bengaluru-based Bureau fleshes out the digital persona of potential customers for new age companies
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Born during the pandemic, identity verification platform Bureau has seen multiple takers for its product as online transactions grew since March 2020. The Bengaluru-headquartered company provides identity verification, compliance, and fraud prevention services to digital-first companies across fintech, financial institutions, gaming, crypto and ecommerce.

“Fintech, crypto, on-demand economy, all these sectors were accelerating after the pandemic hit. This also saw a rise in frauds and these high growth companies wanted to know who their customer was,” says Ranjan Reddy, Founder and CEO of Bureau.

Previously, Ranjan was a co-founder at mobile payments solutions provider Qubecell in 2012, which was acquired by San Francisco headquartered mobile payments company Boku Inc in 2014. 

Backed by the likes of Quona Capital, Okta Identity and Blume Ventures, Bureau focuses on the onboarding and compliance journey of a customer on a digital platform. The product identifies whether a new customer signing on to a digital platform is genuine, offers intelligence on which parameters does the customer show positive response to versus others, and provides a risk guarantee for onboarding a new customer based on these parameters for the online service provider.

Parameters that Bureau checks

Apart from working with government databases on verifying credentials of a customer, Bureau also looks at the online persona of a user to determine risk. 

“Data is not enough, because just like real life, we all have our digital personas as well,” says Ranjan.

He adds, “The approach to determining credit risk in the last 20 years is not how it will play out for new age businesses in the coming years. The non-credit risks are going to become bigger, including phishing, identity theft and others, in volume and value.”

He adds that the starting point for any customer onboarding online is the phone number. Through its partnership with mobile network operators, Bureau identifies the user of the number, whether it was created recently, nature of the service terms (prepaid or postpaid), location of the user, among others. Ranjan adds that the platform ensures that the device, SIM and phone number match to verify a single user. It also cross-verifies email ids in a similar fashion. 

Startup snapshot of Bureau

All these parameters help the platform to flesh out the digital persona of a user, which is monitored across multiple uses, including the way they use their device, the pressure applied while using it, among other things.

Use cases

Some of Bureau’s clients include financial services company Aditya Birla Capital, and neo bank Jupiter, among others. 

With the increase in penetration and adoption of these services, the attempts at cyber frauds also increase. Bureau also monitors customer behaviour at onboarding and transaction level, says Ranjan.

“In one of the instances we came across, we saw that in a span of a few hours, a fintech app had seen 700 new accounts being created and the software pointed out that these were made through three unique devices located in Assam. All these accounts started applying for credit of Rs 5000 to Rs 10,000 from each account and that is how we identified it as a fraud,” reveals Ranjan. 

Often, scamsters use stolen identities to impersonate other people and take a line of credit and the only recourse for the owner of the identity is to file an FIR against the credit-provider. “We also ensure that with our risk guarantee, these growth stage companies can focus on their growth and legal hassle arising out of duplicate or stolen identity is handled by us,” says Ranjan.

In the ecommerce space, Bureau offers RTO Protection to cover risks. RTO or Return To Origin in ecommerce arises when a Cash-on-Delivery order is not accepted by the customer. The cost of reverse logistics is higher, and it also hampers the actual sales expectations for the merchant who is informed of the failed order only in 15-30 days’ time. 

“We study addresses, shipping behaviour, and based on these, we give real-time decisions on whether an order is RTO Protected or not. RTO comprises 10-12 percent of all orders on an average for a retailer and our services can bring down the numbers,” says Ranjan.

Revenue models

Bureau operates on a business-to-business (B2B) model, offering its services to digital-first businesses. The company, which started with a client base spread across geographies, has concentrated its services to India and will also be focusing on the Indonesian and other Southeast Asian countries in the coming months.

Bureau’s revenue models include pay-per-use based on the number of API calls or as a percentage of the transaction if the client uses Bureau’s risk guarantee product. Going ahead, Bureau plans on introducing assured identity or transaction services to its customers.

While the company did not disclose its revenue figures, Ranjan claims that its GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) has grown 10x over the financial year 2020-21.  

“Right now, we work with 54 businesses in India, all of whom are paying customers,” says Ranjan. He adds that the platform has thus far protected $5 million in transactions and has verified over 12 million identities, apart from making transactions frictionless for verified customers by removing 30 million SMS-OTPs. 

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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