Meet Olly Thornton-Berry, MD at the ID Checker: Thirdfort app
Thirdfort is a web and mobile application that helps real estate professionals verify the identity of their clients and perform AML checks to reduce the risk of fraud in a real estate transaction.
Our mission is to eliminate risks so that people can move around without fear. To do this, we combine Open Banking, data analysis, and biometric and cryptographic verification to automate identification and meet anti-money laundering (AML) obligations.
We work with over 500 law firms and many leading real estate agents. Leading angel investors back us including James Meekings and Andy Mullinger, co-founders of Funding Circle, David Rutter, founder of R3, and Alex Chesterman, founder of Zoopla and Cazoo.
How did you come up with the idea for Thirdfort?
My business partner, Jack Bidgood, and I started the business after a friend got cheated on £ 25,000 while trying to buy a flat in London. He and his partner each transferred half of the deposit to their lawyer. His money has arrived, not his. He had been hacked. They not only lost £ 25,000 but also their home. The irony is that he was made to feel like a fraudster after going through compliance checks (Know Your Client (KYC) and AML) four times, from scratch and on paper.
At the same time, Jack had also spent weeks sifting through the paperwork and identity checks to purchase his apartment. It took him three weeks to join his lawyer, who also complained about the complex compliance process.
So it was clear to us that the first steps in the home buying process were cumbersome and inappropriate.
We have implemented Thirdfort to simplify the process and reduce the risk of fraud for lawyers, realtors and their clients. In doing so, we have reduced the time required for identity and source of funds verifications from two weeks to less than a day.
How has the business evolved during the pandemic?
Before Covid, lawyers typically met their clients face to face to perform checks and compliance checks, to ensure that the client is who they claim to be.
With real estate lawyers forced to work remotely, the pandemic has accelerated the shift from manual identity verification to digital identity verification and AML checks.
However, without a uniform standard for digital identity verification and AML, it is difficult for professionals to determine which tools are sufficient to protect their business and their customers.
This is where our platform comes in. We are the only company in the legal and real estate market to combine identity verification and source of funds verifications to deliver best-in-class AML.
We stepped up our efforts during the pandemic and were able to meet the needs of transport agents, lawyers, and sales and rental agents.
As a result, our business has grown from a 12-person team with around 60 business clients in February 2020 to over 80 and 550 business clients today.
What can we expect to see from Thirdfort in the future?
We are the first to use the rails provided by Open Banking to power a new AML solution for real estate and legal professionals.
Then, when more than 20% of a law firm’s costs relate to the risks associated with managing client funds, we will create a dedicated real estate payment offering. We will also use Open Banking to power this service.
Longer term, we want to expand into other regulated industries where we see the same manual and clunky methods that companies use to onboard their customers. An individual should not have to go through manual KYC and AML checks several times a year from scratch.
We have already expanded into the real estate agent market. We will then expand our legal services offering before launching into the financial services sector next year.
We also see enormous potential for our technology internationally where Open Banking is six to 12 months late in Europe and often 12 months or more late in other Western countries. We expect to see our first international expansion in the second half of next year.