Business development / bwtech incubator / Cybersecurity / Economics / International

UK-based iProov is opening a US headquarters at bwtech@UMBC

The biometric authentication company is expanding in Maryland to be closer to cybersecurity talent, and government customers. The seeds were planted during a state economic development mission to the U.K. three years ago.

Welcome to bwtech@UMBC. (Courtesy photo)

A London-based biometric authentication company is expanding its presence in North America with a new office at bwtech@UMBC.

iProov is opening its first physical U.S. location in Maryland to be close to cybersecurity talent, as well as existing U.S. customers.

“Our new U.S. headquarters is perfectly situated,” iProov CEO Andrew Bud said in a statement. “Not only will we enjoy close proximity to our government customers, but we will also be able to more easily leverage Maryland’s outstanding resources — in the form of nearby intellectual capital, tech talent, and the vibrant cybersecurity community associated with the bwtech@UMBC Technology Park. Our new location and new executive hires are setting the stage for iProov’s next phase of rapid growth, and we’re excited about the way forward.”

The company said its technology was used by more than 2.5 million people in 2019, and it counts ING, Rabobank, the U.K. Home Office and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as customers.

Founded by Bud in 2011, the company said its technology is used to verify identification by government customers, as well as authentication for customers of banks and healthcare providers, and employees accessing software applications at large businesses. Called Flashmark, it flashes a sequence of colors onto a user’s face to authenticate them. Its offerings also include technology to verify whether a user’s face is “genuinely present” when matched with an official document.

“iProov authenticates the user against an image from a trusted source,” like a photo ID, passport, driver’s license or photo from an database, Bud said in response to questions. “iProov works with document capture partners so that an individual can scan their photo ID using their phone and then verify that they are the holder of that ID.”

The rise of technology has brought concerns about data protection and privacy. iProov said it is GDPR-compliant, putting it in line with the European regulations that are tighter than in the U.S.

“All imagery and biometric profiles are deleted after processing is complete, as agreed with customers in Data Processing Agreements,” Bud added.

It can also protect against deepfakes, Bud said, in which people are depicted in fake videos or images and have been used to put words in someone else’s mouth. They pose a threat to online security, especially as they get easier to make. Bud offered a scenario where a company wanted to add facial biometrics for customers.

“A criminal could create a deepfake video of a customer and subvert that authentication process to make fraudulent payments from that customer’s account,” Bud said. “iProov protects against this because they check for genuine presence — are you the right person, a real person, authenticating right now.”

The move offers an example of a government-backed international trip resulting in local economic development. Maryland officials first met the company on Gov. Larry Hogan’s economic development mission to the U.K. in 2017. The trip resulted in a new agreement to establish an exchange program between companies in the U.K. and Maryland. Cybersecurity was a focus, and the state’s agreement with the U.K. was linked with the bwtech@UMBC’s iCyber Center, which aims to provide a “soft landing” for international companies seeking U.S. expansion. The center also hosted iProov in 2018.

Now, the company is opening a U.S. headquarters at the Catonsville innovation hub. Among those moving to the office are iProov President Joe Palmer and Simon Williamson, the company’s VP of sales for North America. In all, five employees will be attached the office initially, and the company is looking to grow going forward.


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