By Emily Nicolle on 9th February 2018
Co-founders Paul and Salena Worrall speak to AltFi about what their product might mean for the future of fintech.
“All of us experience various forms of fraud at some point in our lives,” began Salena. “We felt there just had to be a better way for someone to ensure that nothing happened unless they expressly wanted it to.”
Back in 2013, Paul and Salena Worrall fell victim to identity theft. Using Paul’s 30 years of experience in financial services and technology, the pair created Zonafide as a means of ensuring that important activities which require identity verification are being carried out by the correct person.
Today, Zonafide is a digital wallet and mobile app that leverages blockchain technology to simplify the identity verification process. Currently in discussions to be utilised in the life events sector by local government registry services, Zonafide aims to make the process of changing your name or buying a house as secure and efficient as possible, while minimising the risk of fraud.
When a user wants to do something important, like take out an insurance policy or pay a deposit on a new home, they can create an Activity in their personal Zonafide Wallet which signifies their intent to do it. People or organisations that they specify can then use the Acknowledge function to confirm that the Activity is genuine.
“People are quite familiar now with digital wallets for securing their cryptocurrencies, and ours is a similar model,” continued Salena.
“Unless you want something to happen, it shouldn’t be happening. What we have built is a digital wallet for securing those important life activities.”
In time, they plan to expand Zonafide’s reach to cater for a wide range of activities: from taking out a loan, to registering a death with the local authorities.
One particular area that Paul has in mind for the future is to aid those who are less independently capable with their own money. Zonafide is already in the process of speaking to banks about joining forces to provide an Acknowledgement process for events such as large expenditures, helping families and carers to monitor the financial activities of vulnerable persons.
The UK start up has recently made new hires in IT consultancy, who have visions for what Zonafide could achieve in the fintech world. January’s Open Banking regulations are making financial services an enticing future market for the app, with Zonafide’s entry only being a matter of time.
“Banking and open APIs are a really exciting market to be in, but it’s one that because of the regulatory issues, you kind of work around it first,” said Paul.
“Once you’re established and your product works, it would be no time at all for us to start doing stuff in that space.”
As a shining example of the first blockchain-based app to simply registers an activity as true, rather than storing any specific data itself, Paul believes that the majority of the fintech world has yet to realise the potential of the blockchain movement.
To him, there’s so much momentum around blockchain that cryptocurrencies are actually a “distraction” from the real benefit of the technology they’re based on.
“The core thing that people need to recognise is that blockchain is a decentralised network which acts a source of trust. People are incentivised to work towards a particular vision, and that is security.”
“If there’s any fintech companies out there that are looking to explore what blockchain can do for them, it’s that area that we can help with.”
AltFi is returning to Amsterdam for its second annual Summit in the city. The inaugural event last year was a roaring success, with key figures from across Continental Europe's alternative finance and digital banking sectors highlighted. These included Jeroen Broekema, managing director of Funding Circle Netherlands, and Mieke van Engelen, head of innovative partnerships at ABN AMRO's standalone lending platform, New10.