tt100 Awards Interview: ThisIsMe

tt100 awards
Juan Furmie, Ceo of ThisIsMe.

tt100 awards
Juan Furmie, Ceo of ThisIsMe.

Da Vinci’s tt100 Awards programme recognises South Africa’s finest role models who demonstrated excellence in the management of Technology, Innovation, People, and Systems. This is based on The Da Vinci Institute’s trademarked TIPS framework which looks at how organisations manage their Technology, Innovation and People in a Systemic environment. TIPS is recognised as an important driver of business growth in a dynamic world of rapid change and shifting business models.

For 27 years, the tt100 Business Innovation Awards have been bringing to light and celebrating organisations whose innovative spirit stand out – not just for the extraordinary quality of their ideas, but the proven ability to turn these into commercially sustainable products or services with real socio-economic impact.

IT News Africa interviewed the 2017 tt100 Award winners to find out what the tt100 Awards programme means to them. Also, we found out more about the winners themselves and their plans for the future.


Juan Furmie, Ceo of ThisIsMe, explains that ThisIsMe started with an idea born in the Twittersphere around 2013, where anyone could claim to be anyone with no real means of verification for users, aside from celebrities who received the iconic “blue tick”. The idea was to provide users with a platform to validate and verify their personal information, so everyone could have the trusted “green tick,” not just celebrities.

Furmie adds that through the course of building these advanced verification services, “we quickly realized there was a gap in the market and an opportunity to approach businesses with our unique offering, not just individuals.”

“More and more we see that our daily interactions are becoming digitized and everything we do is online. Interacting online can be very efficient – from opening up a bank account to buying plane tickets – but making sure the information being submitted by individuals is legitimate is a big problem for businesses, especially in the financial services sector. Still, to this day, most businesses, specifically financial institutions, deal with very high costs and friction when onboarding new customers; a predominantly paper based, in-person and inaccurate process. Not only is onboarding a constant issue but they also face stringent KYC and AML compliance regulations.”

“In light of this problem, we have continued to build advanced validation and verification services that make it easy for businesses to remotely onboard customers, gather all their information and verify that they are who they say they are, in near real-time, thus bringing more trust into transactions for businesses and individuals.”

“We aim to provide advanced identity verification and due-diligence technology, enabling our clients to improve customer onboarding, increase revenue and reduce fraud while providing a valuable customer experience.”

What is the core focus of your business?
Although identification and verification are part of everyday life for both businesses and individuals, the majority of ThisIsMe’s clients are in the financial services space. We have expanded our advanced solutions over the years to go beyond simple verification to include document verification, tamper detection, liveness detection and photo comparison, to name a few. These tools allow banks, insurers and financial institutions to validate and verify information whatever their requirements.

Currently, the scope for most compliance regulations only covers financial institutions and credit providers. As we head toward a completely digitized society and the protection of an individual’s data becomes paramount, we expect to see regulation extending to other industries and the adoption of Regtech becoming a necessity across the board.

What has been the company’s biggest highlights for 2018?
Our services and solutions offering has grown substantially in 2018, building out and adding a range of new services and features, especially to our Partners Web Platform, which recently received a massive update.

We have partnered with one of the biggest banks in South Africa on a special project which recently went live and was released in closed beta testing. We are very excited about the innovative project and believe it has huge potential for everyone involved. (Waiting for public announcement before naming the company).

We have also continued our winning ways in 2018 by winning the Benzinga Global Fintech award for best Regtech solution.

Could you tell us about your future plans and upcoming programs?
We will continue to improve and build on our existing services in order to continually add value for existing clients and also look to expand into other industries with our growing base of solutions and services.

While building and improving our services, we are looking to grow our geographic footprint by adding additional data sources in order to expand through Africa initially, then globally.

Why are programs like the tt100 beneficial to enterprises?
It can be very difficult as a start-up or SME to gain exposure to the right markets and potential investors with limited budget and resources, especially businesses which are unique and innovative. Programmes like tt100 offer great exposure for new up-and-coming companies, and getting in front of the right people, whether it is potential clients, investors, or business partners, can make the difference between a successful, thriving business and just another failed idea.

How has winning the award impacted your business?
Aside from the aforementioned exposure and awareness generated from being a multiple award finalist and award winner, we gained invaluable experience and feedback on our business as a whole – being able to learn from what other nominees and winners are doing and how they are doing it; gaining an insightful outside look at our technology; managing innovation and most importantly, how to effectively manage the most important resource, our people.

We also gained valuable insight through the selection and judging process which we find to be a truly comprehensive process. It places you in a different position, altering your viewpoints and allowing you a greater perspective to judge your business for yourself.

What advice would you give to future leaders who are starting out within the same industry?
We would say that it is not going to be easy; there will be tough times when you feel like you’re wasting your time and feel like quitting but you have to stay positive and believe in yourself, and most importantly, your team. The people you surround yourself with are so important, not only for the work they do but for attitude, passion and belief they bring with them.

Another crucial point to mention is always try and stay true to yourself and your vision. There will always be people with the same or similar ideas, or people that will try and steal your vision (or even corrupt it) but if you stay innovative, stay positive and work hard, anything is possible.

Staff Writer