Snapshot: trustev


Ireland-based startup Trustev checks patterns in Internet user behaviour to verify consumer identities and catch fraudsters in online transactions. TB&I spoke to chief marketing officer Donal Cahalane about how it protects the brand, and its users’ information.

How does the Trustev model work?

Trustev verifies online consumers’ identities in real time by using thousands of dynamic data points from sources including device type, IP address, transactional histories and Internet browser behaviours. This is augmented by our proprietary social fingerprinting technology that uses data patterns behind an individual’s social graph of Internet activity to confirm they are a real person, and that they are exactly who they say they are.

The Trustev model is implemented by online merchants to protect themselves from the growing problem of online fraud.

How does social fingerprinting technology work?

The technology fits into the online order process by prompting the user to sign in to their social networking account. Technology research company Gartner estimates that by the end of 2014 over 65 percent of all new online transactions will be done using social sign-in.

Our algorithms then analyse the patterns behind the data in the customer’s social network account, such as friends responding to Facebook statuses or tagging them in pictures. The data is cross-referenced with the other technologies including ‘proxy piercing’ and transactional and behavioural analysis, to generate a ‘Trustev Score’ of between 1 and 100.

If the customer scores less than 65, then the customer is rejected, between 65 and 70 and the transaction is put forward for manual review, and if the customer scores more than 70, the transaction is approved.

There is no truer reflection of a person’s identity online than their social account. Their activity on these sites is the equivalent of a fingerprint on the web. 

Is social fingerprinting a Trustev innovation? If so, how do you protect it with IP?

We are the first company to use social data for online identity verification in this way. Some companies have used social data to further screen transactions that have already been flagged as suspicious, but this is often a manual process that can be expensive. Our solution provides a level of automation and machine learning. The algorithms behind our social fingerprinting technology are pending patents. 

"If the customer scores less than 65, then the customer is rejected, between 65 and 70 and the transaction is put forward for manual review."

We’ve also built other technologies to verify the identity of online customers such as advanced proxy piercing and virtual private network (VPN) cracking tools to catch fraudsters who are hiding their IP addresses, and we’re developing tools to track transactional behaviour online.

What kinds of companies are using your service?

Our technology is being used by online merchants, gambling sites, dating sites and some of the big telecommunications companies.

Would it be easy to copy your business model?

No—we have created significant barriers to entry for potential competitors who may try to duplicate our offering, including applying for patents to protect the algorithms used in our social fingerprinting technologies.

Are you ever approached by customers concerned about what’s happening to their personal information? How do you protect it?

We are often asked by our customers what we do with their information, although we don’t look at any personal information at all. We look at patterns in the data that users have already given to social networking sites.

For example we’re not looking at the content of a person’s Facebook status, we’re looking at whether the status was responded to by friends or whether it was shared. We look at thousands of data points but no actual information, and we’re certainly are not concerned with storing or using people’s information.

As a company of individuals who have a very strong social footprint ourselves, we are incredibly focused on user privacy; it’s at the core of how we build our technologies. We ensure that we can use the data in a responsible way to help benefit the user, while never exposing them or their data to misuse.

What channels are you using to promote the brand?

Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools available, but only if you have the product to back it up. We believe we are leading the way in anti-fraud and identity solutions by using social data, so it would only be right to promote our brand in the same way.

We have made a conscious effort to bring Trustev to every major technology event available, and encourage every member of the Trustev team to regularly blog about issues and news that relate either to the company, anti-fraud, e-commerce or to their specific job function. This has helped to establish us as knowledge leaders in the anti-fraud and e-commerce space.

This article was first published on 01 September 2013 in World IP Review

Trustev, IP address, Internet fraud, branding,

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