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Trust and Verify

A 2015 report from the Consumer Finance and Protection Bureau found that 45 million Americans, or nearly 20% of the adult population, are what the agency calls “credit invisible,” meaning they do not have viable credit history with any of the three major US reporting companies. A disproportionate share of these consumers, according to the CFPB report, identified as Black or Latino, with particularly high over-representation of immigrants.

One avenue for addressing such disparities is to help immigrants get their international credit histories recognized in the U.S. This task is complicated by the challenges of identity verification and cross-border consumer credit reporting. But a partnership announced by Mitek Systems and Nova Credit in September aims to address these impediments, by integrating Mitek’s mobile identity verification technology into Nova Credit’s solutions for delivering international credit and banking histories to U.S. lenders. Such a combination can both protect consumers’ identities and help financial institutions comply with “Know Your Customer” regulations, while allowing immigrants to establish credit histories in vastly reduced time frames, and in many cases open their new accounts remotely.

At $84.6 million in revenue in 2019, Mitek is not a large company. But if you’ve ever deposited a check remotely, you’ve probably used at least one of Mitek’s products: the company reports that its mobile deposit capture solution is used by 99 of the top 100 US banks, and more than 6,400 financial institutions overall. While its relatively small size makes Mitek difficult to track against traditional environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, Mitek is an example of a business with clear and inherent benefits to environment and society.

Some businesses that have powered the digital, and increasingly remote, economy, have done so via demand generation (driving additional production and consumption, most often by more affluent customers). But Mitek’s products belong to a different group: one that addresses the pre-existing needs of customers across the income spectrum, and makes filling these needs less time-consuming and carbon-intensive. A 2019 study by the GSM Association and the Carbon Trust found that mobile banking alone accounts for nearly 50 million tons of avoided carbon dioxide emissions annually, the equivalent of taking more than 10 million cars off the road. Add to this the time savings for lower-income people in particular, who are less likely to own vehicles or able to take time off work to visit the bank, and a picture of significant impact emerges.

Most recently, the global COVID-19 pandemic has revealed further social utility in Mitek’s products, including the ability for its mobile identity verification service to facilitate remote transactions as varied as account opening, notarization, hotel and travel check-in, and the initiation of healthcare. Governments, such as that of the U.K., have had to quickly pivot to offering critical services online; Mitek helped its existing, digital GOV.UK service rapidly scale its offerings by verifying citizens who needed everything from business and self-employment payments, to car registration and tax services, to Universal Credit applications for those who were out of work or earned a low income. Successful applications reportedly peaked at 164,672 new profiles per week in mid-2020.

In August, Mitek provided its mobile identity verification technology at no cost to Gift Card Bank, a non-profit that collects and donates gift cards and other financial support to those with escalating needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Mitek, the quick and easy remote verification of donation recipients can help mitigate ongoing fraud losses due to COVID-19 scams that have already reached more than $150 million, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Like most smaller, public companies, Mitek does not publish an annual sustainability report, or track and report its greenhouse gas emissions. As its business grows, these are steps we strongly encourage Mitek to take. But in the meantime, we are pleased to see a company whose products and approach to doing business can, by their very nature, confer real and immediate benefit on people and planet.