Small Business Spotlight of the Week: miiCard

Let’s talk about passwords for a second.  Or rather, how outdated and insecure passwords are nowadays.  With sites like Dropbox, LinkedIn, and Yahoo! all experiencing major password breaches– and learning that most frequently used password is actually “password”– it’s clear the current system of rote memorization and hacking is not working.  But, what’s a better solution?

Well, this week’s Small Business Spotlight, miiCard, is definitely one solution.  miiCard– which stands for “My Internet Identity”– is an identify verification service using your email address, your mobile phone, and your online banking account to prove you are actually you. miiCard is like flashing your driver’s license or passport on the internet.  It also streamlines your web experience.  Instead of countless usernames and passwords, you have one identity to use for a variety of activities you want guaranteed security: online shopping, social networking, online dating, and online financials.

CEO James Varga talks more below about online security and internet identities:

How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?

miiCard stands for “My Internet Identity”, it  is the first service that allows you to prove your identity purely online to the level of a passport, driver’s licence or photo ID.

miiCard provides one identity which you can  use across the web where you need trust for example when trading on auction sites, online dating, in social networking and when applying for new financial products and services that require an identity check. It provides a safer, faster and more convenient way to transact online.

miiCard supports the UK, North America, Western Europe, India, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

What are some industry specific challenges you faced?  

Our challenge today when conducting business, fighting fraud and protecting the consumer is to create trust between business and consumer without resorting to physical offline identity validation.

This initial lack of trust in Identity between vendors and consumers (and increasingly between consumers in social and professional networks) has a huge impact, particularly acute in financial services.

The pain starts at the online sales stage with, in the UK, 70% to 90% of online financial transactions being abandoned as soon as an offline process is introduced e.g. the moment the customer is asked to complete the transaction offline by taking their driving license, passport or utility bill into their local bank branch or even if they are asked to sign and return an agreement. This offline stage, responding to Anti Money Laundering, Know Your Customer Regulations and the Proceeds of Crime Act, is a massive barrier to global trade and the market demands its elimination.

What was your biggest learning curve/experience?

It’s not the biggest but it relates to expectations, assumptions and openness though. We had designed our digital passport card on the use of an orange background. Not 100% confident it was the right choice we sent it out on some surveys and low and behold – the vast majority of the market thought that blue instilled more trust, confidence and professionalism. Assuming that you know best is sometimes good but risky, you should always be talking to your market, customers and users and where appropriate – take the majority view.

What made you use crowdSPRING?

We are always looking for great talent and the opportunity to access a wide range of professionals was perfect for our needs. We have some design resources in house but we are always looking for different perspectives or focused effort on both small and large projects.

What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?

Like all startups – you need opportunities to build a strong team. I’m not sure it’s the craziest but 15 people working in an office built for 7 is one of the many experiences we have already had together (with only one toilet). It’s all about the journey and the small things.

If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?

It would be difficult to, with hindsight, go back and change anything because its these learning experiences that push us in the right direction. Anytime I’ve not been open to changing my thoughts, iterating through challenges, etc are ones I would regret however. Being iterative is not only for software development but equally important in being a startup. We have to think like a lightweight boxer fighting for our life.

How do you see your company growing in the future?

Within the next two years miiCard will generate significant revenue, gain key partnerships and start to establish itself as a new standard in online identity and trust. miiCard will build the user base directly and through partnering vendors using  multi-channel distribution strategy.

Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.  

Passion, Passion, Passion … focus, reflect, iterate