Building trust in blockchains
Security and speed for marketplaces and mega-deals
Every day, all over the globe, people buy and sell with strangers. From online marketplace transactions and high-value corporate mega-deals, to real estate settlements and mergers and acquisitions.
But in the age of ever more sophisticated card fraud, investment scams, phishing and identity theft, how can individuals and businesses buy and sell securely, avoiding risk, complicated procedures and undue delay?
Step forward Shieldpay and its fraud-fighting app, which helps users protect life’s big and small purchases. We spoke to CEO Peter Janes to find out more.
Q&A with Peter Janes
First of all, where did the idea for Shieldpay come from?
“My friend was ripped off selling his car,” says Peter. “The vehicle was forcibly stolen when he met with the ‘buyer’. He’d made contact online and knew nothing about who he was dealing with. If background checks had been carried out, the fraudster would have been picked up straightaway. That’s where Shieldpay comes in.”
Peter explains, “Our app enables people and companies that don’t know each other to transact securely. It’s the new digital form of a payment mechanism called escrow – that was the old-fashioned system used by solicitors to set aside money until deals were fulfilled.”
Super-quick property transactions are a great example of where Shieldpay’s innovation comes into its own.
“In the past, you would have used an escrow to buy a house, that’s where you send money via a solicitor. Now, our patented technology does that in 10 seconds, with no involvement of solicitors.”
And the app is the perfect vehicle for second hand car sales, providing a safety net between buyers and sellers. Shieldpay secures both parties by conducting identity and money- laundering checks and only releases funds when everyone agrees that the transaction has been successful.
“A lot of fraud is happening within banking. As soon as you’ve input the details of the person you’re wanting to send money to, you’ve effectively authorised your transaction and if there’s a problem, your bank can’t help you in terms of getting that money back. So, we build in additional security that gives users a second chance to authorise payments.”
Shieldpay went through the Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars programme in 2017, and that’s when things started to get busy.
“The Barclays Innovation team encouraged us to totally immerse ourselves in the Accelerator programme, and we’ve made rapid progress since then. I started the company with my Chief Technology Officer, Jerome Gudgeon, who was formerly Head of Financial Services at American Express, and now our team is eighteen strong. We’re collaborating on seven Barclays projects right now, so we’re in close partnership and there’s lots going on.”
The Barclays Accelerator has certainly proved to be a catalyst for the company’s development.
Peter feels that Barclays puts a stamp on Accelerator companies as a signal to the FinTech world saying, ‘there’s something about these guys you should look at’. But he also believes that the Accelerator helps define where a business fits into its market. “You get grilled by 88 mentors over the course of four weeks, so you’re constantly improving your business pitch. It’s a pretty brutal experience, but the company wouldn’t be in the position it is now without the Accelerator.”
He says that Shieldpay benefitted from being located in the Rise ‘hothouse’: “One of the difficulties of being a start-up is creating your own type of environment with a small group, so if you combine all of these companies together, you create a FinTech ecosystem where everyone feeds off each other.”
There’s no doubt that this is a company with a strategic understanding of its opportunity in the marketplace.
“Bank transfers and PayPal fail to secure people or industry for high value transactions. You can’t use PayPal for more than several thousand pounds, so people are left with either cash or bank transfer to complete a deal, and there’s a 12% fraud rate with those types of transactions. Sites like Autotrader, Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace are still not mainstream – so people email each other and meet up in car parks to try and transact, hence the amount of fraud.”
Now Shieldpay is busy establishing its technology all over the world.
The business won the prestigious Visa Pay360 2018 PayTech Innovation of the Year Award – this was presented by the Emerging Payments Association to celebrate companies delivering cutting-edge payments products.
Peter is delighted with Shieldpay’s achievements so far: “We’re set up to be in a really good place not only in the UK, but also in New York and Singapore. Shieldpay’s solution addresses a very universal problem, so creating this cross- border global escrow system is ultimately where we want to go.”
“We’re expecting business to accelerate from here.”
By the end of 2018, Shieldpay aims to be a top five payment solutions provider in Europe and even more actively involved in the corporate shieldpay.com mergers and acquisitions market, where companies buy and sell other companies. It’s clear that Shieldpay’s hard work over the last two years is really paying off.
“We’ve just completed the northern hemisphere’s first fully digital real estate transaction with Barclays,” says Peter. “We’re also developing relationships with other major players, so that’s really exciting.”
What else is in store for Shieldpay? The business is growing its secure money transfer partnership with Barclaycard.
The company has huge creative vision for new products and services. “Imagine I’m sat next to a friend and I need to transfer some money to their credit card from my own,” Peter explains. “How would I do it? At the moment, I’d have to pull money off my credit card into my personal current account and then send funds to my friend from there. But that process takes about four days and isn’t secure. With Shieldpay, you can put in the mobile number or the email address of, let’s say, a builder and send the money directly to them. It takes about six minutes and it’s completely secure.”
Big ideas, fantastic innovation. And that’s just Act One of the Shieldpay story. We suspect there’ll be further exciting instalments very soon...
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