The Innovators — A Conversation with Stuart Lacey, Founder and CEO of Trunomi
“‘Money is the route of all…’ including the route to access education to break cycles of poverty and transform lives. Digital technologies will be key in reaching these individuals — and strong digital identity, powered by consent and controlled by the individual, is the gateway.” — Stuart Lacey
What is your current position, and what has your journey there involved in terms of finance/tech experience?
I am the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Trunomi. Prior to Founding Trunomi I spent over 15 years in financial markets and compliance management, and previously founded five financial companies including a pan-African exchange (my first Fintech). As a certified compliance manager I recognised the major burden of compliance for financial service providers and the convergence of data privacy regulation, technological innovation and changing consumer attitudes to data ownership and transparency and control.
This was further evidenced by the entrance of the General Data Protection Regulation, first proposed in 2012. I saw it was poised to revolutionise the global data protection landscape — and strengthen and empower individuals data rights, with an emphasis on consent and control. I saw the opportunity and founded Trunomi in 2013. Since then we’ve become market leaders in consent management, forged global partnerships, raised over $9M in venture capital and become leading thought leaders in the personal information economy space — in 2015 I presented a TEDx on The Future of Your Personal Data — Privacy vs Monetization.
Could you describe what your company offers? What differentiates it, and what has enabled that?
Trunomi unlocks the power of customer data using consent and data rights management. Trunomi provides customer consent and data rights management technology, which enables businesses to request, receive and capture customer consent to the use of their personal data. For the business, we create auditable, immutable consent receipts (TruCertTM) and convert them to customer data rights accessible across all Enterprise data systems.
We enable businesses to comply with EU GDPR and ePrivacy Regulation by putting in place auditable workflows to record and prove lawfulness of processing of customer data. Businesses can also record and manage decisions to process personal data using legitimate interest and other justifications at an individual, not a categorical, level and act as a system of record for data location. For the customer we provide control and transparency over how their personal data is used.
Our platform is an enabler of the evolving personal information economy for a more flexible, transparent, empowered and customer-driven world. Trunomi’s end-goal is to enable ecosystems for privacy management and consent-based data sharing which empowers data controllers, processors and data subjects to maximize the value of personal data.
What have been the major challenges in the development of that concept?
Market acceptance of data as an asset has been a challenge. Its intrinsic value and realities surrounding its ownership have not yet been grasped by global businesses. The GDPR — our main driver — has helped awareness around the ownership of personal data and the market has now reached the point in their GDPR preparedness journey where they’re looking for solutions.
Are there any technology or regulatory changes on the horizon that excite or concern you?
As mentioned — the GDPR, which will be enforced from 25 May 2018, revolutionises the global data privacy landscape. GPDR gives individuals greater control and transparency over their personal data and raises the bar for businesses to achieve lawful processing of personal information. Compliance will require more than technical solutions, as it will be necessary for business to change their mindset and culture to one that recognises the primacy of an individual’s rights over their data.
Using the Trunomi platform, businesses can simply and quickly solve eleven key articles of the incoming regulation, avoid heavy fines and sanctions (4% of global revenue or €20 million — whichever is greater) as well as empowering customers with enhanced, personalised services.
In a broader sense, what excites you about the future of financial technology?
Role of AI and Machine learning — all of which rely on higher quality inputs to provide better outputs. I think of it as dirty water going into a filtration unit, versus clean water, direct from the source. I’m intrigued by the compelling future of using permissioned and personal rich, recent ad relevant data from customers — rather than anonymised and stale datasets. Solving the single customer view — and thus delivering consumers what we really want out of all the “noise” — resulting in less intrusive ads and offers, and more context / relevancy and utility on demand.
Outside of your own market, what startups or founders do you look to for inspiration?
Richard Branson — combination of brand savvy, marketing and innovation. Not afraid to try new things and break the mold. Not just an entrepreneur, but a mentor and coach and fascinated by the possibilities of a young and open mind.
Elon Musk — raw innovative talent, willing to swim against the current — total commitment to long term mission. Can see a future most cannot, and has the fortitude to accept that he must do what almost no one else will — go it alone, to ensure the future he sees is realized.
Oprah Winfrey — Generous, honest and epitomises integrity: Self made and a 3-time founder with Harpo, OWN and the Leadership Academy for Girls. An icon of how to give back.
You are granted one wish to change the financial technology industry in 2018 — what do you wish for?
1. Financial Inclusion — improving access to financial products to over half of the population (in remote, rural areas) who are unserviced or under serviced. I’d like to see particular focus in closing the gender gap of access to microfinance to women — approximately 1.1 billion of women remain outside the formal financial system, and are significantly less likely to secure bank credit. ‘Money is the route of all…’ including the route to access education to break cycles of poverty and transform lives. Digital technologies will be key in reaching these individuals — and strong digital identity, powered by consent and controlled by the individual, is the gateway..
2. Respecting individual data privacy — businesses moving from opt-out to opt-in policies, even giving consumers fair value exchange for their data.
If you could give one piece of advice to the aspiring Fintech folk reading this interview, what would it be?
Find or build a company that embraces a culture where its clearly stated mission generates real passion; and then that real passion generates true engagement of the team and the market — because a dedicated team of passionate people can accomplish anything.