CIX Top 20 CEO Series: Stephen Ufford, CEO, Trulioo

The CIX Top 20 CEO Series highlights the chief executive officers of Canada’s most innovative companies.

You can register for CIX 2015 here.

Today we sat down with Stephen Ufford, CEO of Trulioo.

What impact does being on the CIX Top 20 have on your business?

Being included in CIX Top 20 has raised the profile of our company among relevant businesses, investors and influencers in Canada. It is a true honor to be featured alongside reputable Canadian innovators and leaders in the financial technology space. Trulioo powers fraud and compliance systems for over 400 businesses worldwide, and gaining exposure to other Canadian technology companies will benefit our nation’s economy and strengthen Canada’s profile among business leaders around the world.

How was your company formed?

After launching and exiting three data-driven companies in the last decade, I was determined that my next company would have a more meaningful and significant impact on lives around the world. I wanted to go after something profound that would improve quality of life – not just for you and me – but for the man in Chile who doesn’t have access to financial services and wants to start his own business, or the woman in India who works 10-hour days and walks an extra 5 miles a day to pay for water. The missing element that could help provide access to financial services for the 2.5 billion unbanked and underbanked citizens of this world lies in a digital footprint.

What brought you to this industry?

Data has been around for decades, but the industry has drastically changed and evolved in the last 10 years thanks to the Internet. I fell into the industry quickly after moving to the U.S. after high school. As a Canadian living in America, the experience of proving my identity and establishing credit was horrendous and inefficient. I have spent years building a good credit history for myself in Canada, but when I crossed the border and entered into the states, it felt like someone just hit the reset button and my identity and any history of my existence was deleted. I immediately knew this was a huge problem that could easily be fixed and launched, one of the first companies that made consumer credit reports and scores available online, which was my first foray into the data economy.

Who are your typical clients?

We have over 400 clients, including some of the top payments, ecommerce and financial service providers around the world such as PayPal, Stripe, Square, WorldRemit, and Amazon. In today’s borderless digital world, people are buying and selling online, sending and receiving money around the globe, and communicating with people from all parts of the world. People have quickly assimilated to an international mindset in every aspect of their lives and trust is the backbone to the success of this phenomenon, which is why verified identities is essential to building trust in these ecosystems.

Our clients currently consists of businesses and organizations from a wide array of industries, such as banking, money services businesses, online retail, finance, government, online gaming, peer-to-peer marketplaces, travel, and of course, financial technology, better known as fintech.

Can you give me a sense of your role and what you do as CEO of your company? What are your goals?

My role has evolved from ideation and product development to fundraising and sales and marketing. Trulioo is my fourth startup and I am fascinated with data-driven technologies, it has been my passion and inspiration for all my companies. Having worked with data throughout my entire career has given me insight on all intricacies of the credit and finance industry, identity, privacy and compliance space, and the technical infrastructures and inter-workings within organizations of all sizes. Understanding what type of data is available, how it has been used, how it could be used, and the regulatory and legal framework surrounding data usage, is key for developing a solution that addresses the Internet’s oldest problem – how do you know who is on the other end of the screen?

As the CEO of Trulioo, I am charged with leading the most effective teams who share my vision for making the digital world safer with verified identities for everyone, regardless of location, race, creed, situation, status or environment. It’s important that my team is equipped with the tools, intelligence, and support they need to build a solution that aligns with our company mission to create trust online, establish best privacy practices, and advance financial inclusion.

How do you feel your past experience has impacted you and your role as CEO? Have you had any mentors?

As a serial entrepreneur, I enjoy the hustle. When you have an idea that you truly believe in, it makes you hungry for success and your fearless nature keeps you motivated and relentless during the most critical times. Your days are filled with emotional rollercoasters and it’s important as CEO to stay focused on the big picture. It’s easy to become obsessed with the small things that affect your day-to-day, which is why it’s important for any CEO to keep their teams on track and regularly provide direction and acknowledgement to nourish good morale in the workplace.

I’ve had a handful of amazing mentors along the way, but my father has been the biggest influence in my life. Well known in Canada for not only his success and business acumen, he personifies the “be the business man you want to do business with” mentality having large international network of long lasting relationships based on integrity and respect spanning many years.

Are you developing anything new that you can share with the public?

We are very excited to announce that our global identity verification API or platform, GlobalGateway, will be able to verify 4 billion people around the world, the largest Know Your Customer (KYC) coverage in the market. Riding on the heels of China, we recently secured unique data sources in India, which will enable our clients to quickly expand into emerging Asian markets that are dominating our global economy with its unprecedented growth.

Where do you see your company in 5 years?

In five years, Trulioo will be the largest marketplace for global data where businesses and organizations have instant access to consumer information to perform specific checks and activities granted by the user (consumer).

We will continue to disrupt traditional data aggregators around the world with our unique market place model while raising the bar for consumer consent and privacy protection. I believe that Trulioo will have played an essential part of developing Canada’s global reputation as a safe haven for digital information into a robust new industry and major contributor to our economy.

What are you looking forward to most at CIX 2015?

I look forward to collaborating with other innovators, industry experts and visionaries to raise the profile of Canadian technology businesses worldwide.