FEATURING: John Baird, Co-founder and CEO of Vouched
In this episode, I speak with Co-founder & CEO of Vouched, John Baird.
John shares the history behind Vouched and how they've built a customizable and flexible identity verification platform to support industries like telemedicine, automotive lending, financial services, and more. He discusses the inefficiencies healthcare providers face in proving patient identity. He also shares his experience with auto loan fraud and how Vouched's products can stop it.
Connecting with John Baird
Companies & Resources Discussed
Blue Nile: https://www.bluenile.com/
WE Communications: https://www.we-worldwide.com/
Madrona Venture Labs: https://www.madronavl.com/
BHG BC: https://www.bhgvc.com/
SpringRock Ventures: https://springrockventures.com/
Joanna Stern Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/i-cloned-myself-with-ai-she-fooled-my-bank-and-my-family-356bd1a3
Arthur Schopenhauer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Schopenhauer
FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Welcome to the PEAK IDV EXECUTIVE SERIES, where I speak with executives, leaders, founders, and change makers in the digital identity space. I'm your host, Steve Craig, Founder and Chief Enablement Officer at PEAK IDV. For our audience, this is a video first series, so if you're enjoying the audio version, please check out the full video recording at executiveseries.peakidv.com, where you can watch the full episode, read the transcript, and access any of the resources that we discuss in today's conversation.
I'm very happy to introduce today's guest. He is John Baird. The Co-founder and CEO of Vouched. Vouched connects businesses with trustworthy individuals with AI-powered identity verification solutions.
John co-founded Vouched in 2019, and he previously led brand strategy at Blue Nile, one of the first online jewelry retailers. He also worked as VP and GM at WE communications, one of the largest communications and integrated marketing agencies.
Welcome, John. I'm thrilled to have you on the podcast.
Hey, Steve. Thanks for having me today.
Steve: Now I've been tracking vouch for the past few years and you've made tremendous progress in the market. Can you share with the audience a little bit more about vouched?
John: As you mentioned a moment ago, we are an AI first identity verification company, and really what that means is. Well, in some ways, Steve, I always joke. We were AI before AI was cool. We build proprietary AI and computer vision models to be able to seamlessly look at the user using the cameras on their device. We look at their face and we analyze for liveness as well as part of that process. And then Vouched is also an expert on identity documents all over the world.
And so we do all of that within a few seconds to be able to onboard individuals and really provide them with access to critical services like health care, banking could be employment. We actually help employers all over the world to be able to verify the identity of their employees and help them manage those employees.
So it's really those things that as industries are going through digital transformation for the first time, they're realizing that much like we did in the physical world, you need to know who you are working with, and we really provide the ability to do that.
Steve: Yeah, you mentioned digital transformation. I think about the origin story I read on your website about the influence of the luxury item market that when you were at Blue Nile, that process was really painful.
And I would think with very high-ticket items that there could be potential for fraud. What was that process like before you started Vouched at Blue Nile?
John: Yeah, so this is we're going way back. We're going back a couple decades now when the Internet was quite young and certainly acquiring items online was very young.
And even so, at Blue Nile, we were selling items every single day anywhere from $5000 to $100,000 and there weren't great systems at the time to be able to verify the identity of the purchasers. So we did a lot of manual things to try to figure out, is this user real or not? And one of the things that we did just as an example is after you placed your order, we would call you just to see if you would answer the phone because fraudsters would often not do that.
And that, I mean, it was kludgy. But it worked unless you had just bought a diamond engagement ring and your fiancé to be happened to be the one who answered the phone and we ruined that surprise. And so there were all these learnings from that time. How do you create a seamless user experience that is also secure?
And that always just really stuck with me. I think a lot about creating amazing user experiences. And in some ways that was the beginnings of what Vouched would become.
Steve: And then years later, you were working in a self-driving technology project?
John: Yeah, yeah. No, I was, uh, working with a number of different automotive manufacturers with self-driving and autonomous cars.
I was doing some work with Tesla and BMW and some of the autonomous car, the companies making the technology behind the autonomous cars. And I remember Volvo was my main client at the time when I was in Gothenburg, Sweden. And we were driving, I believe it was a 2005 Volvo, so an older model Volvo and they had a PC jacked into the steering column and we were going through rush hour traffic.
It was sprinkling and the steering wheel steering itself and the pedals are moving on their own. And the engineer who was in the car was also talking about, “Hey, if there's a moose up ahead, then it'll be able to know that there is a moose and be able to take the appropriate actions.”
And I'm thinking, why are we talking about a moose?
And you realize, Oh, in Sweden, you do not want to hit a 3,000 pound moose with your car. Because that is the most dangerous thing. And it just really got me to thinking, right? Like computer vision has now advanced to this state where it can safely drive a car, then it's going to open up all these applications all over the world. And as I was looking at all of these industries, these really big legacy industries, banking and financial services, certainly healthcare, where we do a tremendous amount of work going through digital transformation for the first time, I realized they didn't have a great way to be able to verify the identity of their customers in a seamless way and really at a deep and secure way that they needed to do so.
And Vouched came out of that.
Steve: And so you connected those dots. You're thinking about your time at Blue Nile. And then you're like, wow, computer vision is really advancing, perhaps connect those. Now you got, you got your start, I see, in a press release at Madrona Venture Labs. It was an accelerator about 2019.
Can you talk about that experience going from these other companies into starting an identity verification company?
John: Yeah, sure. So Madrona was great. So Madrona Venture Labs, you know, they were really critical for getting vouch going. We had a teeny bit of traction when we came into their accelerator.
We really worked with their technology team internally there, as well as the other members of the team to really get Vouched in a great place to officially go to market. So we spent the summer and the fall inside of Madrona. Really getting all the pieces in place for what was at the time really just a very early stage MVP of Vouched.
About getting all that together, taking Vouched to a new level and then coming out of there at the Q4 of 2019 is when we launched commercially. And then, of course, 3 or 4 weeks later, we ran smack dab into the pandemic and had a whole new set of challenges for running the company, but one that actually, I think, you know, forced us to reflect on at an even deeper level than we already were is, wow, what does a fully remote world look like?
And I think for the first time, a lot of customers out there too, banks and healthcare, etc., started going, okay, this is the future of digital, right? We are being, the pandemic really served as a forcing function to understand deeply across operations of companies.
When the world becomes fully digital. And I think we're driving toward that. It's going to take a few more decades, but increasingly we will get there. How do we deeply understand who those customers are? It made us better. And it certainly drove a big tailwind in the business as well.
Steve: It's a common theme in this podcast series for me to ask pandemic questions. So it's great. You brought it up. Were you at the time, a remote company prior, or were you att eam in an office. Like what was that transition like for you?
John: I mean, we were a super small time team at the time. Right. And we had actually just signed a lease on our very first office, three or four weeks before, and we only had approximately four employees.
I was one of those at the time. So super, super young, but you know, we went fully remote and, you know, we were fully remote for the next couple of years during the lockdowns. And so the interesting thing is that all of our employees have grown up and our entire culture has grown up as a remote culture.
And so actually going back to an office for us is the anti-pattern. It's the weird thing. And so we've just really leaned into being fully remote. And so the team is, we're based in Seattle technically, but much of the team is scattered across the country.
Steve: The pandemic influenced this space so much in those first few months, it was tough because how do you do business?
A lot of this data is very sensitive. And so many of these companies were in centralized offices, or at least people were going into do the R & D and then suddenly you couldn't. So that's amazing. You've weathered that. And now you've come out of that. I saw earlier this year, 2023, you raised 6.3 million with, BHGBC and Spring Rock Ventures. Congratulations. It's been a tough market the last 18 months. Can you share more about going from a team of four in 2020 to raising 6.3 million dollars?
John: Yeah, so we've grown a little bit. So thank you. Yeah, we've got about 30 employees today. And you know. Raising that money is really about the expertise that we've developed within healthcare in particular.
Now, we work across a number of different industries and verticals and use cases, but the problem within healthcare is an absolutely massive one. And it is one that when it comes to identity has largely been over looked. And you sort of have three big challenges within health care. Number one, you have a compliance requirement to verify the identity of all the patients.
KYP, Know Your Patient. And this is just sort of straightforward as part of ensuring that when a healthcare provider is treating an individual, they know who that individual is and they're treated correctly. So that's the obvious one. And that has to be done for every patient, every time they interact with the healthcare provider. The second one is really around the merger of different health care systems where you might, you know, you, Steve might be a patient at health care provider A. And a patient at healthcare provider B. And now, as those systems merge, there's multiple versions of you within those systems. This is actually referred to as the duplicate patient identity problem.
There's a corollary problem, which is called the incorrect patient selection problem. And this is where you are confused with another individual. And then there's the fourth piece here, which of course is managing your health care records correctly, associating your health care records with you. And, you know, as patients as, as we're going through this really massive transformation within healthcare, where patients are effectively becoming consumers, and they are empowered now to lead their own healthcare, along with all the problems that we've already discussed, you need the ability to safely manage those records and take those records with you in the right way and share them with the individuals, the other healthcare providers that you want to share them with.
And your identity is critical to this. And just to give you a sense of how big this problem is… Today, the average health care organization, they spend 700 days, business days annually, trying to resolve patient identity issues, 700 days, just trying to figure out, is this the right Steve or is this the Steve?
Are these the same Steve's? So it is this really big problem. And so what we really, as we work with healthcare providers, we go very deep on understanding the identity of the individual in such a way where they can, with a tremendous amount of confidence, go, okay, we know who this is. This person goes with these health care records, and then your care can be safely managed.
Steve: Yeah, the health care identification process has been such a gap, and then the pandemic really highlighted it. Because telehealth was almost like an outlier experience, and then suddenly it was the only experience and now people have realized, like, why do I need to go into an office to have that 5-minute chat with a service provider, with a physician when I can do that online?
In my experience in the market, a lot of the identity and identity verification companies have dabbled in healthcare, but I connected with your team after you launched Vouched Rx or Vouch Prescription. I don't know how you refer to that. What was the genesis to go kind of big in the market? Was it those early signals you saw in supporting those clients?
John: It definitely was that. And like I said, we have a lot of expertise within health care. We have now more than 40 healthcare providers. Many of them are digital first healthcare providers that are our customers. And as we've dug in very deeply with the doctors and the various healthcare providers, what we understand is, you know, it's health care, right?
So access to health care is obviously critically important, unlike in financial services, which tends to be largely one size fits all when it comes to identity. You have a number of different variables when it comes to health care. Right? And so what we really work to do is create a configurable way to understand the risk of that individual, the risk of the treatment they're going through.
Not all treatments are terribly risky as the case may be, and then really work with the health care provider to take and right size. How do we have the security sensitivity around that individual for what they are being verified for? And then how do we work within their workflow in such a way that that user can seamlessly move through that verification process so they can actually receive that health care?
Quite frankly, the last thing you want to do is have somebody who's very sick at 2 a.m. and they're already stressed and right maybe they've got a fever and then put them through an onerous verification process. And so we always are trying to think like, how do we get this super accurate while right sizing it according to the treatment and the verification of this specific individual and that expertise within healthcare has just really become a core to where we focus.
And I think there's a lot more that can be done in healthcare and it benefits, it benefits everyone. I mean, the biggest challenge within healthcare, we have great healthcare within the United States. The challenge is it's very expensive. The report just came out this month that the U. S. spends 4.3 trillion dollars on health care. That's a lot of money. And you know, when it comes to the identity part of this, it can actually help drive down the cost of care. It can increase access of care. And quite frankly, it also helps provide better care to everyone. So everybody wins right when we get the patient identity correct.
Steve: Do you find that the drivers are coming more from the insurance, the carriers, the payers, or do you see the interest coming from the providers, the physicians, the hospitals? Like, it's a very, sometimes very confusing market. Like, where do you see the most demand?
John: Yeah, it's really for us it's coming from the health care providers.
And let me go a click deeper into that and explain why. And we've touched on some of this when patient identity is not deeply verified, deeply understood there's risk to that patient. In fact, 86% of health care providers talk about having witnessed a medical error. Because they couldn't, there was a question around the patient's identity.
So there's, you know, getting that right is absolutely critical. It just makes everything work better over on the economic side, on the revenue side of the business, approximately 33% of claims are denied by the insurer because the insurer is not confident that the correct individual has gone through that procedure, right? There's just confusion there. And so the claims end up being denied. So getting this right, right, like actually boosts revenue and it boosts care for everyone while you're also bringing down the costs. And so this is really why, you know, the health care providers. You know, our hospitals, our doctors, they want to get this right because it just makes their jobs easier and it makes their jobs better.
Steve: Yeah, there's nothing worse than getting that letter in the mail that says your claim was denied. And then you also get the things in the mail that say, this is not a bill, but then it looks like a bill. It looks like an invoice. So really from the patient side, that experience, I can't think of the last time I went through a a doctor's experience, and they really put scrutiny to my identity. Yet there's potential for so much fraud.
The other challenge in this space, and I've been on many sales conversations and product conversations with healthcare opportunities is HIPAA. Often it comes up, it's, Hey, are you HIPAA compliant?
And many of the identity verification providers don't really go down the path of saying, “Oh, we're HIPAA compliant or not.” But looking at your site, looking at the press release, like you've got a very unique position on HIPAA, which is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Can you talk about how you mitigate risks associated with HIPAA?
Yeah, sure. I mean, I think, you know, so much of this is being very sensible in the way that you approach these things. So we go through a tremendous amount of security and a variety of different checks at Vouched as far as this HIPAA is one of them. We also, you know, have gone through whole variety of ISOs, and I don't ask me to state all the different numbers behind them, you know, as well as SOC 2. One of the things that we do as part of under, verifying the identity of the individual as it's related to HIPAA, we actually never touched the medical information, right?
So we're very much an identity verification provider. We understand the compliance requirements as it's related to health care, but we know we have zero visibility or zero association with the actual treatment of that individual. And that's how we want it to remain because we are not a health care company. We're very much about empowering and helping the healthcare providers with the identity of that of that individual.
Steve: Yeah, it's a great approach to really keep those silos separate because the you need to have the portability of the health care data. But as soon as you start connecting those dots, I think it creates potential risks there.
So where I was going next was looking at your other offerings. So you've got the Vouched Rs. You've got Vouched Auto, Vouched FI or FI. How do you pronounce that Vouched FI?
John: Uh, we call it vouched FI.
Steve: Looking across those verticals, looking at the customer logos, like the roster of customers, it's really impressive. What are some of the common themes you've seen across? Healthcare, auto, financial services.
John: So the common theme, of course, is are you, you? And I, you know, one of the things I think that people miss when they think about identity, we're so rooted in the physical world, right? So rooted in the way that like, I'm going to stand across a desk from you and take you through this mountain of paperwork and verify your identity as part of that, and that's we start in a very different place, right? We start with intrinsically what are the criteria that uniquely define who you are?
And this, of course, is various biometrics like we talked about as well as government issued identity documents that we are evaluating and then underpinning that with other signals, risk signals, fraud signals and confirmation signals that you are as you are presenting yourself.
And so that's core to what we do in every single use case. But then I think the way that this gets applied across the industry, it should never be one size fits all right. And so we think a lot about this when we go through the individual industries and what are their risk and what are their compliance requirements.
And so, you know, we think about three specific criteria as we develop our product by industry. Number one, what are those compliance requirements by industry? We think about number two, what's that transaction specific risk, right? What is the benefit of an individual trying to defraud on this specific transaction and then the user specific risk, what signals are we seeing as part of that evaluation of the individual that might give us concern?
And then stepping that person up accordingly in real time across a variety of different configurable workflow factors so that we can move the great people, the good people through.
Right. Very, very quickly and with a minimum of friction. And then those individuals where we're like, well, this is weird, right? There's something going on here, making sure that we do a deeper examination of that, of that person, you know, where we tend to see the biggest risk, even more so within in financial services, actually within the automotive space in particular.
And it's because, I believe overall criminals and organized crime have realized that. I can put $5,000 down on a vehicle and whether I'm buying that vehicle online or at my local dealership, it's quite easy for me to disappear with that vehicle, and so we see a spectacular amount of effort by criminals to create very sophisticated identities so that they can perpetrate those types of crimes.
Steve: Yeah, the automotive fraud that occurred in the last few years with everyone being remote buying cars remote, it just became a standard thing that dealers had to do. I think it gave more opportunities for fraudsters, either using stolen identities or synthetic identities to really make those attacks and then they disappear, especially in the US where you could drive across the border and the car's gone. It goes off to some other country. No, it's interesting. I had a follow-on question that you are. You answered for me about the differences between the healthcare, the automotive financial services are these different products you've built or the configurations? Can you describe a little bit about how the product suite is?
John: Yeah. So, I mean, like I said, at the core, we use our proprietary AI to be able to visually evaluate you. And when we talk about that today, more and more is around we have a combination of machine in the loop learning, as well as reinforcement learning. And we're constantly building new fraud models.
And the way that we build those fraud models is a combination of seeing emerging fraud happening. What are the new fraud use cases? Constant inputs from our customers as well, talking to our banks, talking to our health care providers, where are they seeing risk, right? And then supplementing that both with real data and synthetic data.
And this all gets injected into these proprietary models, so the machine in the loop builds the first stage of this. Then we apply a reinforcement learning to this. And then the new fraud models come out of this. And so we're constantly doing that because Vouched. Vouched is fully AI. We have zero humans in the loop.
We're very much an outlier within the industry because of that. And it's really, it's made us better because we are so close to the metal on the way that we inject this new data, train on this new data, and then generate these new fraud models to be able to catch that. So that's very much at the core.
Then, as I talked about earlier, you really start to think about, okay, for this individual industry, you know, they have a specific requirement or they need specific data that might look different than others. One very obvious example is, if you are buying a car. You need to have a current and valid driver's license.
You wouldn't necessarily need that to receive healthcare, right? Because you're not you're not going to drive in healthcare. And so, you know, those are just, that's just one very small example of the ways that Vouched is specifically tailored to those different industries.
Steve: And how do companies typically integrate or leverage Vouched. This is, um, an API, SDK. Can you describe integration pattern?
So they don't get bogged down and, you know, the forever implementation phase. The other big reason why we developed the JS plugin is unlike a native app that a user is going to have to download, and most people today are fairly resistant to downloading yet one more app. It's the last thing you want to ask a customer to do during onboarding for a business or healthcare.
And so the JS plugin operates entirely on the web and any user with any phone anywhere can open the Vouched experience, go through it in real time right there on the browser of their phone and be done in 30 seconds, be onboarded into that company. And now the company has a new customer
Steve: And that experience is predominantly the capture of the I.D. Whether it's a passport or driver's license. And then the biometric is that's that's the primary workflow?
John: Yeah, it's that 3-step workflow where we look at your face, evaluate you for aliveness, examine the ID and I think this is a very important to state Vouched in control of the camera.
And so we built it this way for a couple different reasons. Number 1, it's more secure because vouchers doing all of the work. And it allows a fraudster less ability to submit fake images. And in addition to that, because Vouched is in control of the camera, it's a fully seamless process. Vouched knows when it sees an ID, a driver's license, a passport, it just knows.
It knows where that ID is from before it ever even takes the picture. And then it is looking for an optimal image. And so it's adjusting for things like lighting or shadow or blurriness, taking the image in such a way to ensure that it is actually a good image that can be deeply evaluated.
Steve: Yeah, you mentioned something really important a few moments ago about the AI technology being fully autonomous and that you don't have human agents mixed in.
And over the last few years, the industry, identity verification in particular has really swollen with lots of inbound venture capital, lots of new companies. What would you say sets vouched apart beyond the full automation that you've built? What are some of the other differentiators when you speak with, uh, enterprise customers that, that you bring up that you could share?
Yeah, well, like you said, you know, we are very much an AI first company and building those proprietary fraud models like we talked about earlier, the machine in the loop, the reinforcement learning. When we look at the vast majority of competitors out there, they're very human dependent. Now they have some rules-based engines baked over the top, but humans are doing a lot of that review.
And, you know, with the state of deep fakes and they're just getting better. And better, humans can't do this work, right? A human cannot tell if it's a deep fake or if it is real. I'm sure you've seen the report from the Department of Homeland Security talking about how deep fakes are such a threat simply because no matter how much you evaluate them as in, as a human, you can't tell if that is real. It fools our senses. And we believe only AI can manage this problem. And so that is very deeply why we're focused. And quite frankly, that's why we win, right? We're catching fraud that others aren't catching, even with their humans in the loop.
Steve: And these fraud models that you mentioned, are these the forensic document analysis, or are there other components of fraud that you're detecting, maybe transactional signals or other data points.
John: Yeah, it's great point. So we think very much about a multi-factor evaluation of the individual, especially where the risk is very high. We're applying a deeper evaluation of that person at its core. It is the computer vision AI that we are examining and those proprietary fraud models that we develop and they look for a variety of different things.
Is this an e-screen? Is this a deep fake? Is this a manufactured physical forgery? Right? And then in addition to that, we also have other signals that we are looking at a variety of different fraud signals. So we will examine hundreds of different data points on this individual beyond just the AI step.
So we look at various things around an email address. We look at the age of that email address. We do multiple different types of geo-location on that individual. Somebody is applying for, I don't know, a million dollar home loan and they live in Seattle, but they're in Moscow. We're going to throw up a flare right on that kind of signal.
We look at information back from a variety of sources, the governmental sources, social security administration, as well as very specific, malicious fraud sources as well. Has this individual been involved in crime? Do we believe that this is data that was taken from the dark web? All of this gets put together into a holistic examination of the user moving through that system.
Steve: That's phenomenal, John. Having that holistic view, as you said, is really important, not just taking singular data points, because singular data points allow gaps for fraud to set in. That’s, that's powerful. It's great. When I think about, what's ahead for, for Vouched, I've tried to, to guess by looking at what you've been building with your product and your press releases.
Is there anything you can share here on the podcast for 2024, like what your roadmap plans are, nothing too confidential about what's in store for Vouched?
John: Yeah, I mean, I think it's always more AI, right? Like we, like I said, at the beginning, we're an AI first company. So it is creating more and more, you know, models around AI to just have a better and better understanding of are you, you?
And this is, you know, the threat of deep fakes. My personal belief is they are going to blow a hole through most people's most businesses security today. I mean, there are still plenty of very large financial institutions out there, healthcare providers, automotive that are doing this work manually with their internal teams, and I believe deepfakes present a real threat to them.
In fact, I'm personally so concerned about deepfakes that even within my family, my extended family, my brothers, my sisters, my mom, you know, we've talked about developing a sort of a call and response, code words essentially for when we call each other, right?
Just, just so we know it's actually,they're actually, we're talking to each other because it would be very easy. For somebody to pose as me or poses my mom, and then get useful information from me over time. And so, you know, deeply focused on what is the next fraud models AI fraud models that we are developing.
So that's, that's number 1. We'll continue to accelerate, within healthcare, but I think. You know, over time, as we talk about the opportunity within Vouched, Vouched was really built around helping to empower people economically, because identity is your most valuable asset by far. And it gives you access to things that are mission critical in your life. Your ability to be banked is an obvious one. Healthcare is a pretty big one. I think we can all agree with that. Your next job, government benefits, paying your taxes, etc. And so, you know, looking international is absolutely critical for us. Already, we do a very large business across Latin America.
And as we look out into the future, we believe that the next region of the world that we will enter is in Asia Pacific. And so that's a lot of what we're thinking about is how do we enter those markets and how do we serve customers across those markets, knowing that some of the fraud threats will be different when we get there.
Steve: You had a really great point about the deep fakes and having a safe word or a codeword with your family is a really good idea because if someone is replicating your voice and they're contacting your family member and then they in turn go and do something on their own device using their own password, it's very hard for a financial institution or healthcare company or whoever to detect that. So really thinking about it upstream where that, that scamming and that, that victimization occurs, it's really important.
John: We see, I mean, most, most banks to this day when you're doing a wire transfer. The way that they verify that wire transfer is they call you and they talk to you and to my thinking, that is, should be totally obsolete at this point, and you need a more robust way of verifying the identity of the person sending that wire transfer. The threat is just too big with deep fakes. If you read the Joanna Stern column from the Wall Street Journal earlier this year, talking about how she used AI and deep fakes to be able to fool her bank. That story was six months ago. I believe we are definitely in a place where banks need to greatly increase their security.
Steve: Absolutely. Absolutely. You also just mentioned something about the importance of identity. And I certainly from the content I've watched already about you, John, online, you have a lot of passion around identity and helping people access their identity, control their identity. On the EXECUTIVE SERIES, I like to go beyond the press releases and the content that's already out there. Can you share the things that you're passionate about the causes where you spend your time outside of the Vouched?
John: The reason that I get so passionate about vouch and so passionate about identity, and I touched on this a moment ago is, you know, what really excites me is solving these really, really big problems.
And we talk a lot about this internally, right? Like, let's not ask, let's not solve these small problems. Let's solve the really big problems because the benefits that come out of that are just absolutely massive. And as I talked about, you know, a moment ago, identity is your most valuable asset. It's absolutely critical for all of these things that we do that, quite frankly, make our lives better banking and our jobs and health care, etc.
There's a quote by the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer that we talk about also internally at vouched and it goes around with trying to solve big problems, but, the, the quote goes that all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
And I've always, I just think it's a brilliant insight. And I don't know if it was supposed to be humorous, but, I think sometimes when you see things that are profound, they're kind of funny. And I mention that because I believe that there's a lot of negativity in our country right now, even though we live in this time, like of great abundance.
I mean, unemployment is lower right now than it has been since the 1960s. If you look at things like food and clothing as a percentage of budget, they are less expensive than they've really ever been throughout history. And a little bit higher now with inflation, but still on, you know, a multi millennia scale, like less expensive than they've ever been.
And we have all of this information at our fingertips from the world's greatest minds, from professors, and it's absolutely free. And so what's, what I think a lot about is how do you help people? How do you let them know that they've got all of these opportunities? They're actually in a really, really good place rather than dwelling on the negative, but help them to understand that there's tremendous opportunity in the world, and how can we help them and empower them to take advantage of that?
That, in my spare time is one of the things that I'm very focused on. And it's one of the things, you know, intrinsically at Vouched that we try to help people, people with, if they are trying to make their lives better and the only barrier is them being safely identified, then I think that we can slot in there to really give them, give them the opportunity to access something really important to them.
Steve: That's great, John. I love your positive outlook on the world because when we do sign into the news or we go online, it's like negative, negative, negative. We are living in a time like no other. Just the ability to connect with anyone on the other side of the globe and just to push above a button and you can have a video conversation is, it's crazy, but at the same time, they could be a deep fake on the other end of that.
We're just about out of time, John. We're going to wrap up here in a moment, but can you share what types of conversations you'd like to see come out of this? This, this podcast will go out to the identity community. How would you like the market to engage with you?
John: Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, I just talked about how the world is a better place, but I think fraud is getting worse, right?
And it's, it's an existential threat to hospitals, to healthcare, to banking, to automotive, to employment. And I think, you know, at the same time you have these businesses, they need to deeply understand who their customers and their patients are. And they know that there's a demand from the market and from their customers to be more digital.
And this is... That's really where we're immensely innovative and helping these businesses improve their customer experience while boosting revenue and also helping catch these sophisticated fraudsters. And so, you know, those companies that deeply care about serving their customers, serving their patients, and taking care of the security of their business, those businesses that are ready to dive into that conversation.
That's why we're here. And, we love it when they bring, they throw challenges our way.
Steve: Great. Well, I will put a link to your LinkedIn profile, in the EXECUTIVE SERIES site, as well as to your contact page, John, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. I really look forward to seeing your continued success in the market and the growth of Vouched.
John: Cool. Steve really appreciate the conversation. Take care.