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Adventures and Learnings in the Upside Down

February 2018 was a milestone month for me. I added Australia to the list of continents I have visited. After 22 hours of travel time, I landed in Sydney. Being an airport geek, I watched eagerly out of the window to see the tails of the aircraft parked at the myriad of gates at Kingsford Smith Airport. Carriers from around the globe including Indonesia, Fiji, India, and Thailand were all arriving to unload their passengers. My second taste of the cultural diversity associated with the country came as I made my way to the customs hall. For a country so remote, there clearly was an active interest from citizens of other countries to visit. I was there for both work and pleasure, and over the next twenty days I was going to learn as much as possible about the people, the businesses, the culture and the use cases for identity verification in the Australian market.

While there, I had meetings with six of the top vendors for Australian Identity and Address Verification. In addition, I met with other customers, partners and influencers in the Australian market. Part of the mantra at Global Data Consortium (GDC), is “the customer is not in the building” meaning that you can’t know the nuances of a market solely by sitting at your desk. Taking time to have an espresso with a customer/partner/supplier about the nuances of local country data produces far more information than trying to do the same via email.

One example of this deep market learning occurred when I began discussing with partners an issue we were seeing with age verification of adults between the age of 18-25 in Australia. We knew this was an ongoing problem for a number of prospects that we had. When sharing this with our partners, we discovered that a solution might be to access a specialized student data set to increase the match rates for Australians of that particular age. Perhaps we could have uncovered this insight via email, but I’m confident it happened much faster because of that dialogue.

Another great moment of the trip was meeting fellow entrepreneur Ed Sedgely. Ed is one of the “Originals” in the identity verification market. His company Global Data Company (yes, I swear our similar names is a coincidence) was the leader in consumer identity verification. He sold his company some years ago and started another venture in Melbourne, Australia. We had the opportunity to sit down over lunch and talk about the market and his long-term view of where things are going. We both agreed that the market for global Know Your Customer (KYC) and Know Your Business (KYB) was still in its infancy and has significant room to grow over the next 10 years.

Australia’s robust cultural diversity and the growth in mobile workers was on display at every turn during the trip. From meeting a Croatian/Bulgarian couple on the bus from Watson Bay Beach to Bondi Beach, to a business partner’s spouse who hailed from Latin America, I discovered that there are a huge number of people who are working and living in Australia. This creates an interesting challenge for identity verification, as many of these immigrants have limited exposure in traditional data sources such as electoral rolls and credit databases. Performing an electronic verification requires the use of the DVS Visa database. This database has a unique set of license requirements and unless you are using a local provider with a physical presence, you cannot legally access this information. This highlights our mantra of local data, local rules. Better results.

On my last day at Bondi, with a long black coffee in hand, I watched the beach fill with visitors and locals. Languages from around the world were being spoken, all with the shared thoughts of the day of sun and excitement ahead. I felt good about the solution we have built which combines access to more than 15 unique data sources creating a solution that provides the best match rate coverage in the industry. As we continue to focus on achieving the best match rates for the Top 100 economies worldwide, I look forward to more experiences from the field and translating those learnings into meaningful results for our customers and partners worldwide.