Identity, Trust, and the Evolution of Who We Are Online
By Jason Tan /
7 Jun 2016
We were excited to see Sift Science’s name this week as part of the “Digital Identity Top 10,” an ongoing scorecard created by PYMNTS.com and Socure, a digital identity verification company. We were ranked No. 8 alongside a broad range of companies that all do some form of fraud detection or mitigation.
Digital Identity Top 10
- Early Warning
- Oberthur Technologies
- Sift Science
- NuData Security
As I looked at it more and more, what was truly striking was the diversity of companies on the list. All of them were approaching the same basic goal – helping companies weed out criminals trying to commit financial fraud – from totally different angles, but with one common thread running through them: identity.
It got me thinking about when we started Sift Science five short years ago. At that point, fraud detection software was based on static rules that had to be manually adjusted and were easily beaten. Fraud detection was also completely siloed from other things like identity management and risk mitigation. The introduction of big data and machine learning was a huge inflection point that changed all that by making those rules smarter, faster, and self-teaching.
I think we’re at the opening stages of another inflection point, bringing us back to that common thread of identity. Big data and machine learning have gotten so sophisticated that it’s actually changed Sift Science’s approach fraud detection and mitigation – and changed all the companies on that list as well. While fraud detection is still the core of what we do, we’re beginning to see a larger picture where companies like Sift Science are in the business of using data to help companies instantly create an identity for anyone who tries to process a payment through their shop or service.
Identity is also tricky word here. We don’t have any interest in making sure that, before I use my credit card to buy something, I verify that I am indeed Jason Tan. We have immense interest, however, in creating software that helps companies determine that I am somebody who acts like Jason Tan, a real, responsible person (I promise!) who doesn’t try to make fraudulent purchases.
In the past I’ve framed this through the lens of trust, an ability for people to free traverse the internet and carry with them an inherent trust – created by technology – that they are who they say they are. If you boil down what the other nine companies on this list do, you’ll basically reach that same answer.
That ability will be the next Holy Grail for this industry. Whether it’s called “trust” or “identity,” it will completely reshape how people interact with the internet and create the next round of billion dollar companies.
It’s an exciting time to be alive.
Jason Tan is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Sift. Fueled by a passion for building great products and amazing teams, he's also held leadership and engineering roles at BuzzLabs, Optify, and Zillow.