Shahid Hanif’s Take on Shufti Pro’s Five-Year Journey of Winning the Fight Against Fraud
The financial sector constantly faces new and emerging challenges in fighting sophisticated fraud and financial crime, all while ensuring compliance with international regulations. Addressing the challenge of onboarding legitimate customers across the globe, Shufti Pro has come a long way from when it was founded on October 31st, 2017 to achieving a staggering 92% customer satisfaction rate.
A very small number of companies ever get to establish a global footprint like Shufti Pro – an IDV provider trusted by over 700 businesses and financial institutions for secure customer onboarding.
Shahid Hanif, Shufti Pro’s founder and CTO, first saw the need to establish his own IDV platform after facing multiple delays and failures in implementing an existing KYC service at another financial firm.
How it all Started
Determined to deliver an identity verification service based on authenticity, trust, and transparency, Shahid Hanif laid Shufti Pro’s foundation as the first company to offer free trials to global businesses globally. Shufti Pro’s customer onboarding solution quickly began to gain prominence as it helped businesses and financial institutions win the fight against fraud. In this article, we discuss the company’s 5-year journey, including the highlights, and the challenges, directly with the man himself, Shahid Hanif.
Firstly, let’s talk about your history, where did you get started, and how did you get the idea of launching Shufti Pro.
“At the start of my career, I was working as a developer at a financial firm and was assigned the job to implement and test an existing KYC service into the company’s system. Many long painstaking days, and various failed attempts later, I did get it working, but not long before I experienced delays and failures in getting my own credentials verified. That’s what led me to create a fully automated, highly accurate identity verification platform. Shufti Pro was my dream project, and it really feels great to have achieved so much.”
Initially, what were the challenges you faced? And how did you get around them?
“Of course, it is quite normal to encounter obstacles on the road to success, regardless of the industry you find yourself in. When Victor and I laid the foundation for Shufti Pro, we were faced with challenges not only in terms of establishing brand awareness but were also told by sceptics and friends alike that the company would not even last a year. However, we were determined to keep pushing forward and provide top-notch IDV to our global clientele.
Now that our RegTech SaaS helps hundreds of businesses to comply with government regulations all around the world, the difficult part as the CTO is to make sure that we address all challenges before any of our customers are affected. Recently you might have heard news where some hackers deep-faked a selfie at a large crypto exchange to scam crypto investors. The challenging part is to make sure that we capture all such deep-fake attacks so businesses and their users’ accounts are secured.”
The Life of a CTO
What’s the most interesting or exciting part of your day-to-day role as the CTO of Shufti Pro?
“The most exciting part of my day-to-day role is listening to our customer’s new requirements and implementing them quickly. Sometimes businesses think it might not be possible to change a SaaS vendor, but we are trying to change this mindset. One example is that our VP of Partnerships recently shared a story where a gaming brand was imposed a hefty fine because they couldn’t prevent duplicate accounts. They were trying to find a solution where they could avoid duplicate accounts using a selfie only. We listened to this requirement and offered them a customised solution within three days. Our team loves these kinds of challenges, and we happily take them head-on and get them implemented.”
What are the common misconceptions about the global IDV industry and how does Shufti Pro prove them wrong?
“One major misconception is that identity verification is just an extra activity that well-established businesses opt for in order to ramp up their security. On the contrary, IDV is a significant process to implement in order to mitigate the risks of fraud and financial crime. No matter what the size of a business is, Shufti Pro’s highly configurable IDV solution ensures the onboarding of legitimate customers and compliance with global regulations.”
What advice would you give to up-and-coming tech company CEOs/CTOs on how to build a SaaS company destined to hit a 9-figure+ valuation?
“If you really believe in your idea and your team, you don’t need funding. We all can survive for a few months if we truly believe that we can build something incredible. When starting a company, focus on building long-term relationships with your customers and with your team. These two things will ensure that you survive for a long time. Once you have initial customers happy, they will vouch for you in the long run. Similarly, if you have a strong relationship with your team, they will stand with you when you need them. You can’t buy this with money or with some motivational speeches.”
Words of Advice
What are your top three tips for tech company CEOs/CTOs to properly position their company for a successful Series A raise?
“This is the first time we ever raised funding. Before our Series A round, I’d read a lot of blogs about funding experiences and most of the content available online basically said to pitch 100 VCs and you’ll get a response from a few and out of these, someone will be kind enough to trust you. Luckily this wasn’t the case for us. If I remember correctly, we pitched to less than 10 VCs and most of them wanted to invest in us. I think if you show VCs some happily paying customers, organic growth rate in an ever-expanding industry and a solid team, then almost every VC would like to invest in your startup.”
What is your biggest advice to a CEO/CTO managing a virtual/remote company in 2022 on how to create a thriving culture?
“One of the biggest pieces of advice to fellow founders before hiring a remote team member is to go to your shortlisted candidate, or have them come to you, and spend some time with them and then decide. I know it’s a time-consuming and resource-intensive task but trust me it will save a lot of your time in the future.”
What is your best advice to a CEO/CTO running and managing an international team across multiple countries and time zones?
“It’s always best to find some hours where two time zones overlap so you can regularly speak with your team. While all employees can’t be online at the same time due to time zone differences, try to group them in 2-4 clusters so at least everybody in these clusters is able to speak to each other. Also use tools where you can schedule tasks, emails and instant messages. Such automation tools help a lot.”
We hope you enjoyed hearing directly from Shahid Hanif and picked up a nugget or two along the way. If you’d like to learn more about Shufti Pro’s KYC & AML solutions for your industry, we encourage you to reach out.