AuthBridge’s Ajay Trehan and Utkarsh Joshi on leveraging AI, tech to enhance customized onboarding experiences

In an exclusive interaction with MediaBrief, Ajay Trehan, Chief executive officer and Founder of AuthBridge, and Utkarsh Joshi, Senior Vice President, Account Management and Growth at AuthBridge, speak about how AuthBridge’s technological innovation are helping scale-up verification and onboarding for clients and employees. They outline the unique security challenges prevalent in India and highlight how AuthBridge helps in overcoming them.

Give us an overview of AuthBridge and its journey so far?

Ajay Trehan: In 2005, AuthBridge started with the sole purpose of building a formal infrastructure for the background verification industry in India. Right from the time we landed our first enterprise client in 2006, we have been building processes and defining best practices in this niche industry in India.

From completely manual operations to building an online system that led to assembly-line-like handling of our operations (Cornell University has published a case study on this) to becoming the first authentication company that ISO 27001 certified and the first company that got UIDAI authentication license, we have come a long way since our inception.

With a strong foundation in place, we started technology innovation to scale up verification and onboarding for our clients. Building proprietary identity, criminal, and education databases, launching APIs for easy integration with HRMS systems, and introducing end-to-end platforms for digital verification and onboarding journeys became a part of our technological core and helped us capture a larger market share.

Timely acquisitions, like Footprints in 2018, were strategic moves that established us as the largest background verification company in India.

 

Most recently, much of our efforts have been dedicated to the application of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, among other state-of-the-art technologies like document classification, OCR, and biometric authentication to the Authentication space in India. Our mission now is to enable a one-stop, AI-powered digital onboarding ecosystem for employee, customer, user, and vendor onboarding in India and abroad.

What are the services and solutions AuthBridge offers, and how are they different from its competitors?

Utkarsh Joshi: AuthBridge is India’s largest Authentication company, delivering cutting-edge technology and alternate data analysis for Identity Management, Onboarding & Verification, and Business Intelligence. Our products and solutions solve identification, verification, and onboarding challenges. So, wherever these are key requisites, we have a strong relevance as well as presence.

AuthBridge has three main business segments—Workforce Solutions for candidate verification and onboarding, Fintelle for customer KYC and digital onboarding journeys in the BFSI sector, and Business Solutions for user KYC and onboarding and vendor due diligence. Together these three verticals cover thousands of use cases where trust between two businesses relies on thorough authentication. We are the only players in our industry offering this kind of comprehensive solution.

More than 1500+ clients across 30+ sectors, including Fortune 500 and Indian Unicorns, rely on AuthBridge’s sophisticated authentication products and solutions. These AI and ML-powered products are supported by the largest proprietary identity, education, and criminal databases in the country.

 

Led by an experienced management team, AuthBridge has conducted over 10 million verification checks since its inception in 2005. AuthBridge is ISO 9001:2015 certified for quality and ISO/IEC 27001:2013 compliant for information security. Recently, AuthBridge has secured two rounds of funding from Infinity Alternatives (Series A) and Phi Capital (Series B) for accelerated growth and technology innovation.

Our 16+ years of domain expertise is one of our strongest suits, and with the recent capital inflow, we are expanding, bringing in fresh talent, and building on years of groundwork. Our technology team is a buzzing innovation hub right now, where we are exploring cutting-edge technologies like image recognition, liveness detection, voice authentication, facial recognition, OCR, etc. every day to solve some of the biggest challenges our clients face in their interactions with users, customers, and employees.

We have been the largest background verification company in India for 15 years; but the end-to-end-digital transformation in the past couple of years has led us to become the largest authentication and onboarding Technology Company, beyond just the verification ecosystem.

What are some of the unique security challenges prevalent in India and Indian businesses, and how does AuthBridge help tackle them?

Utkarsh Joshi: Trust is a coveted currency in the world of business, especially in the post-pandemic era where disruption is the norm, and physical contact, the most relied upon form of establishing trust, is largely impossible. Additionally, digital as a proxy for physical comes with its own set of challenges.

The increasing sophistication of fraud techniques for spoofing and phishing, lack of digital literacy, unawareness of digital tools, and limited access to anti-fraud technology that is in sync with the times are some of the common challenges across industries.

Therefore, you hear about unprecedented levels of fraud, be it in financial services, retail, eCommerce, last-mile delivery, or any other industry. There are now cases of impersonation in white-collar jobs where candidates joining the job are different from the ones interviewed.

At AuthBridge, we have been working pro-actively with our clients to understand the evolving business challenges. Our core focus now is to use our AI-powered, technology tools built over the years to address the problems of today as the environment for innovation and tech adoption is more conducive than ever.

The fact that our products and solutions are time-tested, compliant with global data security and data privacy standards, and available to businesses of all scales across industries has only created a larger demand than ever for our services. Our fraud engine has matured over the years and can catch nuances even if they are contextual, geographical, or regional.

 

How has the pandemic impacted AuthBridge’s operations? As businesses have ruled out physical interaction with users, have you seen higher demand in digital identity verification, other solutions?

Ajay Trehan: The first few months of the pandemic were as challenging for us as they were for everyone else. Our revenues got impacted initially. But we bounced back stronger than ever. Today, our revenue is almost 2X of the pre-pandemic levels.

Our BFSI vertical has over 140+ clients and Business Solutions has signed up more than 50 clients already. This is because digital identity solutions have seen rapid growth in demand.

For us, moving our operations to 100% digital was challenging at first but our proactive approach to technology adoption ensured that we made the most of the shift towards digital when the time came.

Our consistent focus on building platforms that were fast, flexible, and could scale easily paid us great dividends. Our easily integrable API solutions as well as end-to-end onboarding workflows have helped our clients in various stages of digital transformation over the past year.

For us, it has not only translated to better growth but also ample learning opportunities to pave the way in our niche because some of the use cases we have covered have been truly innovative. To give an example, our digital address verification solution has managed to perform address verification with up to 92% accuracy even in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.

Without the reverse migration to the small towns, chances are we wouldn’t have been able to test this solution at the scale we could in the contactless world.

Why is it crucial for businesses to strike the right balance between convenience and security? How can this be achieved?

Ajay Trehan: This is one of the most crucial problems to solve because the very reason for introducing digital products is to improve customer access and convenience.

But as digital adoption and innovation grow, so does fraud as fraudsters are known to be always a step ahead. This results in increased security measures which customers often perceive as friction to access. But there are a few ways that help break the loop.

One of the best ways is to take inspiration from the financial services dividing customers into segments and assigning a risk score to them. The good thing is that more customers than not are good customers. For them, the security measures can be a bit lenient. So, instead of multi-factor authentication, they could access products and solutions by validating just a single credential.

Additionally, certain industries are more prone to fraud than others. The authentication measures in these industries could be tighter. It is also essential to keep a grip on emerging technologies that help balance security and convenience. AI-powered face recognition, biometric authentication, etc. are all helpful in making customers go through a few steps in the onboarding journey as possible without compromising on security.

What trends are you expecting to see in the authentication industry in the next couple of years? 

Ajay Trehan: The need for digital authentication and onboarding solutions is going to be at an all-time high in the remote era of work. Moreover, the introduction of cutting-edge technology use cases will strengthen location-agnostic, digital platforms and solutions and make them appealing to the millennials and Gen Z, set to enter the workforce in large numbers. A great focus is expected on data security and privacy, with tighter regulations and greater awareness.

The use of social media for gathering alternate data points on candidates and customers will be revolutionary where harnessed. The rise in gig work will call for newer models of authentication, the top being the need for continuous checks throughout the employee/customer tenure.

As attrition trends are indicating, employee/customer experience is going to be at the heart of all change as the post-pandemic workforce will lay a great onus on diversity, inclusion, and customized onboarding experiences.

 

What are AuthBridge’s plans for growth? Top priorities for 2022…

Ajay Trehan: Our mission now is to enable a one-stop, AI-powered digital onboarding ecosystem for employee, customer, user, and vendor onboarding in India and abroad, and to emerge as the go-to authentication technology partner across industries, be it for enterprises, mid-size companies, or startups.

We are focused on growing at a consistent pace and having our best year yet in terms of profit as well as revenue, and where we are today, it is a very likely possibility.

Source: Media Brief