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Online fraud costs billions each year. This FinTech startup from Edinburgh plans to stop fraud with rock-solid proof of online identity.

MiiCard

James Varga, CEO of miiCard

miiCard is a digital passport that proves people are who they say they are. It’s designed to inspire the same level of trust online as a passport or a driving licence would in a physical identity check.

The software uses the security and authority of your financial accounts to eliminate the need for physical document checks. It’ll revolutionise financial transactions online – from high value payments to loans.

While miiCard’s biggest potential market is in financial services, the company has applications across the online world. Twitter recommended that users register with miiCard as a fast and easy way to get the blue tick of verification – and miiCard is being used for everything from online dating to subscription services and healthcare.

We’ve supported miiCard in a number of ways: through co-investment from the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB), innovation support, and overseas market development. We’ve supported the company since 2011, helping it to realise its enormous ambitions for growth.

Supporting innovation

The co-investment from SIB helped miiCard gather enough capital to launch. And our innovation support service helped to develop and refine the initial product – as well as its B2B cousin, DirectID.

The company is still young, and innovation drives everything it does. So does it have an innovation strategy? Not exactly. It’s not as codified as that, says James Varga, CEO of miiCard.

“I’m a big fan of the agile approach,” he says. 

“Innovation is more of an ethos than a strategy. We take a lean approach, and we’re constantly iterating. We implement software changes on a weekly basis – sometimes a couple of times a week – so it’s very easy to adapt and change and respond. It comes naturally. 

"But if we were on a much longer cycle, like some big companies where it can take six months, a year, to push things out – that’s when you have to call it an innovation strategy, otherwise innovation gets lost.”

Keeping the HQ in Edinburgh

With offices in Codebase, miiCard is at the heart of Scotland’s tech startup scene. It’s a perfect location, says James. 

“It has all the elements that a startup needs: low rent, lots of talented people, and you can get access to insight and knowledge and mentorship far more easily than in London.

“The city has all the things you want, but in a package that means you actually want to live there. I’d say the lifestyle element of Edinburgh beats anywhere in the UK – and the world – hands down.”

Exporting to new markets

miiCard is highly exportable: there’s demand for online security across the globe. But exporting a product to new markets is not a simple or homogenous task – especially when it involves dealing with financial legislation and banks in countries as varied as Turkey and the USA.

We supported miiCard with our overseas market development service from Scottish Development International – offering advice, research, contacts, and a whole programme of meetings with key business leaders in North America.

The early stages of exporting are crucial – and having support from SDI helped miiCard get a foothold in North America. The company has expanded to other countries too: 11 now use the miiCard service, and 31 use DirectID. There are sales management teams in Australia, Singapore, Canada and London. It has a user base of around 40-50,000, but James is ambitious for the company’s future growth.

“We could have more like 400-500,000 users at the moment, and we’ll take on far more in a few years’ time.”

But there’s more to global growth than just deciding to sell to a big list of countries.

“Each one is different,” says James. 

“Setting up in the US is easier, in some ways, because of the language. But the data laws in the US and UK are very different. The most important thing about exporting is to understand the country you’re selling into. That’s where the research from SDI helped – it meant we could prove out the market, and SDI helped to put us on the radar.”

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