Thirdfort is a web and mobile app that helps property professionals to verify the identities of their clients and conduct AML checks to reduce the risk of fraud during a property transaction.
Our mission is to remove risk so people can move more fearlessly. We do this by combining Open Banking, data analytics, and biometric and cryptographic verification to automate ID and meet anti-money laundering (AML) obligations.
We work with more than 500 law firms and many leading estate agents. Supporting us are some high-profile angel investors including Funding Circle co-founders James Meekings and Andy Mullinger, R3 founder David Rutter, and Zoopla and Cazoo founder Alex Chesterman.
How did you come up with the idea for Thirdfort?
My business partner, Jack Bidgood, and I founded the business after a friend was defrauded out of £25,000 while trying to buy a flat in London. He and his partner were transferring half the deposit each to their solicitor. Her money arrived, his didn’t. He’d been hacked. They not only lost £25,000 but their home as well. The irony is he had been made to feel like a fraudster having jumped through compliance checks (Know Your Client (KYC) and AML) four times, from scratch and paper-based.
At the same time, Jack had also spent weeks sifting through red tape and ID checks to purchase his flat. It took him three weeks to get on board with his lawyer, who also complained about the complex compliance process.
So, it was clear to us that the initial stages of the home buying process were cumbersome and not fit for purpose.
We set up Thirdfort to simplify the process and reduce the fraud risk for both lawyers, estate agents and their clients. In doing so, we’ve cut the time for identity and source of funds checks from two weeks to less than under a day.
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How has the company evolved during the pandemic?
Before Covid, lawyers typically met their clients face-to-face to perform verification and compliance checks, to be sure the client is who they say they are.
With property lawyers forced to work remotely, the pandemic has accelerated a shift from manual to digital ID verification and AML checks.
However, without a uniform standard in digital ID and AML verification, it’s difficult for professionals to determine what tools are sufficient to protect their business and clients.
This is where our platform comes in. We are the only company in the legal and property market to combine an ID and source-of-funds checks to offer best-in-class AML.
We’ve stepped up during the pandemic and have been able to meet the need of conveyancers, lawyers and sales and lettings agents.
As a result, our business has grown from a team of 12 with around 60 business customers in Feb 2020 to more than 80 and 550 business customers today.
What can we hope to see from Thirdfort in the future?
We are the first to build on top of the rails provided by Open Banking to power a new AML solution for property and legal professionals.
Next, when more than 20 percent of a law firm’s costs relate to risks associated with managing client funds, we’re going to build a dedicated payment offering for property. We’ll also use Open Banking to power this service.
Longer-term, we want to expand into other regulated sectors where we see the same manual and clunky methods businesses use to onboard their clients. An individual should not have to go through manual KYC and AML checks multiple times a year from scratch.
We’ve already expanded into the estate agent market. We’re then going to broaden our legal services offer before launching into the financial services sector next year.
We also see huge potential for our technology internationally where Open Banking is six to 12 months behind in Europe and often 12 or more months behind in other western countries. We expect to see our first international expansion in the latter half of next year.