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At its core, Truepic is a free, consumer-facing app that allows anyone, anywhere to authenticate images. Recently celebrated by Fast Company magazine as the top startup in the social good category, Truepic certainly received a few accolades for trying to solve the plague of our era: fake news.
Beyond its feel-good social impact resonance, Truepic’s Blockchain-based image verification tool has a myriad of potential applications across the banking, insurance, e-commerce or online dating fields.
The company has also succeeded in assembling a solid team from Dropbox, Qualcomm and the U.S. State Department, and has raised a total of $10.5 million, $8 million of which was most recently raised in a Series A round in June 2018. In December 2018, Truepic acquired Fourandsix Technologies Inc., a digital photo forensics firm, aligning itself closer to its interest in fraud detection.
In a series of interviews with Karma Network, Truepic’s leadership team shared more details about the inroads and solutions it is providing in the digital banking and insurance sectors.
If Truepic succeeds to endear itself to a critical mass of banks and insurers, their image verification technology could become a game-changer for these industries, and help cement the startup’s position as an early mover in this space.
The company developed two main technologies.
The first is a Blockchain-based controlled capture technology, a camera software that uses imaging and geospatial sensors on mobile devices to verify that images haven’t been altered. This is the basic technology behind Truepic’s free app.
Truepic Vision is its B2B offering, which allows banks and insurers to confirm an image’s identity and expedite onboarding via a series of steps and several metadata points.
Truepic technology crunches verified time, date, location, and pixelation into a SHA-256 code, which is then imprinted onto a public Blockchain.
Social Impact Element
Mounir Ibrahim, Truepic’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, says the social impact element of the technology is what drew him to join the company from his previous post at the U.S. State Department, focusing on Syria.
“Sitting on the U.N. Security Council, watching these images undermined — at least let’s remove this element,” he said.
Currently, Truepic is negotiating a pilot program with the U.S. State Department.
Truepic Vision, the company’s main commercial offering, offers several applications for the banking industry.
“We went after insurance first and lending is an area that we have recently embraced, starting about six months ago,” says Craig Stack, founder and COO of Truepic, in an interview with Karma Network. “From the commercial standpoint, insurance and lending is where we’re focused right now. We need to focus on where the low-hanging fruit is; the biggest [number] of companies that are experiencing the most pain.”
Truepic Vision, as an inspection platform, sends a text message to the bank loan applicant after the prompt to fill out personal information. For example, the text asks the loan applicant to send a series of documents or photos in real time. The data points Truepic verifies include device integrity, time and date of the photo, location, and image analysis.
“We’re going to be able to provide the enterprises the confidence they need [because] the metadata [we get] is accurate,” Stack says. “And we are going to give the consumer a much better experience, which is going to mean more revenue for the enterprise.”
Stack says Truepic has dozens of numerous pilots and several paying clients in the banking sector, including Tier 1 and Tier 2 banks, without disclosing specific numbers.
Adoption risk is probably the biggest challenge Truepic is facing. How do you convince dozens of huge insurers and lenders that Truepic is the answer to their problems and will help save millions of dollars in fraud-related costs?
It will take both time and patience, acknowledges Stack.
“Insurance companies and banks are not known to be the fastest-moving companies out there. There is a lot of momentum, but it doesn’t happen overnight,” he said, adding, “Of course a bigger, much better-funded tech company could try to develop rival technology but that is not something we can control. So we don’t dwell on it too much.”
Truepic’s competitors are a handful of companies that have different areas of focus and specialization. One is Amber Video, a San Francisco-based company that also uses patented technology to verify audio and video.
Among the drawbacks the company itself identifies is awareness of the Truepic’s technology and connectivity in low-connection geographies.
Truepic’s investors include Dowling Capital Management, Andrew J. Filipowski, founder and CEO of Platinum Technology and SilkRoad Technology, and William Sahlman, a renowned venture capitalist and the Baker Foundation Professor at Harvard Business School.
“Truepic plans to raise a Series B financing in 2019 to accelerate its commercial growth across a variety of industries, including insurance, banking, social media, and government [applications],” says Ibrahim. “The company is aiming to make its photo verification platform available to the market at a time when industry, society, and the internet need it most.”
The company is also developing interesting partnerships with the likes of Qualcomm, whose former director of product marketing, Sherif Hanna, joined the Truepic team in September 2018 and is now its VP of Ecosystem Development.
“We’re working with (Qualcomm) Snapdragon chips to see if we can move our technology further down the stack. If Truepic can capture the image before it hits the operating system, literally when the photon are hitting the camera, it’s a much higher level of veracity,” Ibrahim notes. “Right when the image hits the operating system, we test the operating system to make sure it’s not manipulated. But if we can hit it earlier then there is a drastically reduced chance of manipulating information -- that is some cool stuff we’re working on."
Qualcomm said its technology will “enable Truepic to access additional device information to further improve the security and performance of Truepic’s image-verification technology.”
If Truepic delivers even 50% of what it promises to do with its technology for the insurance and banking sectors in particular, it will definitely be a company to watch over the next decade.