When Bangkok Bank in connection to the ‘Startup Thailand 2017’ event announced Thailand’s first ever, international fintech accelerator programme one of the selected eight start-ups was Swedish. Covr Security, or Covr in short, had been selected to join the newly launched Bangkok Bank InnoHub, where the Thai bank had partnered up with Nest, an experienced third party that has successfully created FinTech programs for several international corporations. The purpose with this partnership was to generate commercial results for the parties.
Nest’s CEO, Mr. Lawrence Morgan, said that by accepting applications from around the world, Bangkok Bank InnoHub is different from other Thai start-up programs that are open only to local entrepreneurs. “InnoHub’s comprehensive design draws on world-class innovation and expertise, including dedicated mentors from among Thai and international financial experts, to help shape the start-ups’ strategies and guide emerging entrepreneurs towards their business goals.”
The heart of Bangkok Bank InnoHub lies in providing opportunities for the start-ups to continue innovating and achieve sustainable growth, helping them meet and overcome their business challenges,” said Dr. Panukorn Chantaraprapab, Vice President of Business Investment at Bangkok Bank, stating that they had succeeded in identifying eight start-ups with enormous potential for fast growth. InnoHub were out to “discover the super-fish that are courageous, persistent and agile”.
In presenting the programme’s purpose, the bank’s President Chartsiri Sophonpanich said it “affirms the bank’s commitment to pursuing a digital business strategy that uses technology to create and develop products and services that address customer needs. The bank has also built a FinTech team of technology experts to meet the challenges of the new technologies and reinforce its position as an innovation leader.”
Starting in late June Covr and the seven other fortunate start-ups would, for 3 months, work with senior executives of Bangkok Bank and its dynamic and experienced business partners. The start-ups would also benefit from Nest’s experience in successfully organizing similar programs for multinational organizations.
Covr itself may not be a known name, not even in Sweden. But ‘BankID’ certainly is – the national standard for digital authentication in the Swedish banking system. Covr founder Peter Alexanderson, who developed this, soon realized that it was time to develop the system further so that the rest of the world could benefit from the same security.
“It started already back in 2001, where I wanted to eliminate the passwords, increase the security, and make aware for the end users what happens with any transaction,” Peter later explained during the on-going programme in Bangkok. He wanted a second channel, a device that one brings along, which controls the first unsafe channel.
Around this time mobile phone usage had become widespread in Sweden. So in Covr’s solution the mobile phone is used to control the first channel (the computer). “You want to trigger something, a login or transaction on the insecure channel. The mobile phone was the only thing I could think of to solve this.”
Yet, still today, in 2017, banks in Thailand use an SMS solution for payment confirmation, such as when transferring money – where a four-digit code is received to one’s phone.
“And those codes can be hacked, they are not safe. We go one step further – which also happens automatically and you only need to press on ‘yes’ to confirm and it’s done. You don’t need to get a code that you have to read and type,” stated Peter.
“This is the next-generation of the BankID, an own solution based on 17 years’ experience, richer in content, safer than mobile banking and built to be released in the rest of the world. It fits everything that you want to protect – where it hurts to lose something. It can be documents, business secrets, and money.”
To make it even more bulletproof, Peter added an extra factor to his original solution, and designed an app that can be adapted to any web configuration. So Covr is not restricted to bank use. Gaming sites, cloud storage, e-commerce and other sectors can use Covr. The applications are endless.
“And it’s in fact not only a yes-or-no solution, but that you can send material to the actual application. For example sending a journal or something to the bank manager, to exactly that user, you can us the secure channel.”
“It fits anything IP based.” So even the Internet of Things can use Covr to ensure 100% protection from ID theft, phishing, skimming and credit card hijacking.
“Security-wise it is unique in the world. While we are not alone on having two-channel solutions with several factors we are the only one having an app that you must log in on to see what is about to happen before it has happened. And how we handle the technology between the security server and the telephone is unique,” states the Covr CEO.
A functionality Covr has been asked to do together with Bangkok Bank is a fast checkout for the many hundreds of e-commerce sites connected to the bank.
“InnoHub has been very good for us. We’re sitting so close to Bangkok Bank that they have adopted our entire solution. In principal we have tried to pinpoint where we can fit in and we have found five – which they asked for right away, to be installed in the bank for doing proof of concept.”
“And those are five out of one hundred things we could do in practice. This is just the beginning,” added Chairwoman and Chief Communication Officer Anette Nordvall who had also come to Bangkok for the programme.
Anette said that she was mighty impressed by Bangkok Bank’s focus on this fintech accelerator, having tailor-made and designed a whole department. “They made sure we are in such an environment with many champions within the bank helping us, not only with the technique to have computer access but also daily issues, meetings etc. And they arrange introductions, inviting us to pitch for VCs.”
As well, the top management and executives within Bangkok involve themselves in the accelerator: “They come down to us for coffee breaks all the time, backslapping us, which one is not used to at all in this culture, where managers are usually very authoritative all of them. I think that’s fascinating!”
How they actually met with this bank was on a research trip to Southeast Asia where Nest introduced them to each other. The bank thought Covr might fit to apply for InnoHub as they were looking for everything within fintech and security.
“And they understood what we could do and since we have provided the solution and adoption for BankID in Sweden.”
While Covr wants its Thai client and its customers to say goodbye to passwords they hope that the end of the accelerator programme will just be the beginning of their presence in Thailand and having Bangkok as client, partner and possibly investor.
“We must see that the products fits as step one, and then aim for partnership. And they are very interested to run this so that it gets realized. So it’s both about participation in events and education for the bank in order for everybody to understand that this is the future. And that is probably the most unique thing: the presence they have when we are here and that this should actually come to fruition,” ends Peter.