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Founded in 2019, the Taiwanese AI startup AuthMe has quickly risen to prominence, seizing on the wave of post-pandemic digitalization sweeping across the globe, especially in Southeast Asia. Thanks to its diverse team, AuthMe offers a total solution of electronic Know Your Customer (eKYC), integrating several previously discrete technologies, including facial recognition, Near-Field Communication (NFC) ID reading, and liveness detection.

Currently, AuthMe primarily targets digital finance, and sees its growing potential in Southeast Asia as well as other emerging economies. Kuo Chan Tseng, AuthMe’s Chief Marketing Officer and a co-founder, believes that AuthMe will be the gateway to inclusive finance, and seeks to anchor its service into the financial infrastructure of the future. 

Enable cognitive banking in Southeast Asia

Drawing from years of experiences in Indonesia, Tseng recognizes the necessity to make financial service, especially banking, more accessible to people who have been denied from it. In Indonesia, and in the wider Southeast Asian region, such people account for more than half of the population. 

According to Temasek, over 70% of adults in Southeast Asia lack sufficient access to financial services, leading to millions of SMEs to face large funding gaps. It has health implications as well – inadequate access to financial services, such as loans, has deprived many in Indonesia’s large rural region the opportunity to receive healthcare, leading to detrimental consequences.  

AuthMe Founders: Dalton Hsu, Kuochan Tseng, and Andy Lee. Source: AuthMe

Meanwhile, smartphones have penetrated over 70% of Southeast Asia’s population, and the region sees some of the world’s fastest-growing consumer market. This large and unaddressed demand has allowed digital financial services to step in, especially when post-pandemic relief increasingly requires an all-encompassing financial infrastructure. Simultaneously, cognitive banking, with its hyper-personalized features driven by AI and big data, has become the next frontier of competition.

This changing dynamic has made AuthMe ever more important in order to lead in the deployment of cognitive banking, particularly when identity verification is inevitably the first key step to enable cognitive banking, and AuthMe has sped up an otherwise complicated and inconvenient process that has characterized all remote verification procedures used by financial services. According to Tseng, regulators have also become more receptive to the role of third-party AI verification service in the finance industry. 

e-KYC will be a linchpin of digitalization

In this emerging sector, AuthMe holds a leading position– it is compatible with the majority of mobile platforms, and it is the first to deploy a one-stop solution of e-KYC: Andy Lee and Dalton Hsu, both AuthMe co-founders and respectively its CEO and CTO, already had an early recognition of ID verification’s importance in digital finance, given their previous experiences in cryptocurrency exchange and their backgrounds as white hat hackers. Combined with Tseng’s familiarity with the Southeast Asian market, AuthMe has already cooperated with various Taiwanese businesses operating in the region, and is looking to consolidate its local presence in the coming years. 

As deepfake technology becomes ever more prevalent and challenging, an AI-based countermeasure will only grow in relevance as well. While AuthMe is targeting other emerging markets like Southeast Asia in the long term, where digital financial infrastructures have overtaken physical ones, the pandemic-driven need for digital finance has also gripped developed economies like Japan, which is targeted by AuthMe as well.

Beyond digital finance, Tseng indicates that AuthMe’s ID verification solution suits other scenarios too, including remote healthcare and vehicle sharing. 

Riding on explainable AI and edge computing   

When the privacy issues of data processing and storage, as embodied by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), sit at the heart of digitalization, AuthMe aims to eventually build a wallet of digital identities that can be used on all scenarios requiring ID verification, but only reveal the minimum amount of data needed for the purpose, keeping data firmly in the hands of their owners.

In contrast to mainstream AI algorithms characterized by its opaque decision-making process – akin to a “black box”, AuthMe stands out by using explainable AI: when training its models, the AuthMe team seeks to pinpoint how certain data inputs correspond to certain decisions, in order to modify the algorithms when needed. Explainable AI also comes in handy when clearing up potential disputes. 

AuthMe deploys federated learning in AI model training, a technique that enhances onboarding systems by building a shared, robust ecosystem which trains and strengthens the AI algorithm using common datasets from multiple clients. The adoption of federated learning gives AuthMe a firm head start in the rise of edge computing.

 

 

Interview conducted and written by Misha Lu, Editor of TechTaiwan