Argos Director Son’s Interview with Hyundai Asan Nanum Foundation

It’s nice to meet you. Please introduce Argos briefly to anyone who subscribes to the Hyundai Asan Nanum Foundation blog.
– Hello, I’m Son Sungho from Argos KYC. Argos is Fullstack Inc.’s non-face-to-face ID verification and money laundering risk services. I think most people are not familiar with our services considering most of our clients are enterprises, not individuals. Let me give you an example. When you use Internet services and applications, you usually use your mobile phone to authenticate yourself. Argos provides an alternative service that enables you to verify your identity. We help enterprises to identify their customers.

Son Sungho Argos KYC CSO at Maru 180

What is the outlook for non-face-to-face ID verification market?
– The global non-face-to-face ID verification market is worth about 6 trillion won as of 2018. The market is expected to grow to about 13 trillion won by 2024. With anti-money laundering regulations getting tougher, there will be a huge increase in demand for identity verification and money laundering risk analysis for financial institutions and fintech services.

What drove you to start business in non-face-to-face ID verification and money laundering risk analysis?
– Although non-face-to-face ID verification market has huge growth potential, there are limits in delivering the services. For example, when you try verify yourself using mobile phone number verification service, you have to have a valid Korean mobile phone number. If you are living abroad or holding foreign passports, it’s extremely difficult to subscribe for a telecommunication service in the country. Also I saw a rapid growth in fintech industry and thought it as a business opportunity.

There are several global companies that offer similar services. What makes Argos KYC unique?
– There are two strengths. First, we provide both non-face-to-face ID verification and money laundering risk analysis. Oftentimes our competitors provide only one of the two services. Another strength that separates Argos KYC is technology. Argos utilizes the artificial intelligence technology for four steps in ID verification process including face recognition and face comparison. With face comparison technology we can detect forged IDs. Identity forgery is a serious problem and it never ends. Having meta data on fraudulent ID documents and persons enables us to filter out identity thieves.

I assume that you are targeting financial institutions as your clients, right?
– Of course, financial institutions need Argos KYC and AML services for money laundering risk analysis. Banks offer mobile phone verification services, which are not, in fact, safe enough as a means of security authentication. With the spread of COVID19, non-face-to-face ID verification is becoming increasingly important. Argos helps to strengthen the ID verification service that used to be carried out only by mobile phone ID verification service. In addition to financial institutions like banks, I also think that medical institutions, telecommunications companies, and e-commerce platform operators can all utilize Argos’s KYC and AML screening services. To Argos KYC, now is the time for horizontal expansion, so we are trying to attract as many customers as possible.

I think you’re thinking about expanding businesses abroad.
– First of all, the primary goal is to secure a large number of customers in Korea. After that, we plan to expand our business into the global market based on Singapore and Switzerland, which are the centers of global finance. I’m thinking of setting up a branch office in Singapore in the near future to expand the global sales channel.

Was there any goal Argos really wanted to achieve at the business execution stage?
– I think it’s important to perfect the service technology and onboard customers, especially payment gateway companies. Another goal is to prepare thoroughly for IR to attract outside investment. I would also like to thank Chung Ju Yung Startup Competition for preparing various seminars on IR and pitching skills. It really helped me prepare and understand the IR.

During the business execution phase, you had Han Sang-yeop, CEO of Picnic Ventures, as a mentor. I wonder what you expected from your mentor.
– Since Argos’s service is quite unfamiliar, I needed a mentor who understood the nature of our services. CEO Han Sang-yeop is very knowledgeable in non-face-to-face identity verification. I also needed a lot of advice on how to run a good business, and I’m getting a lot of help from all kinds of aspect. In particular, I’m very grateful that CEO Han Sang-yup helped us look at the bigger picture when we were busy focusing on carrying out everyday business. It was nice to have a mentor contemplate about our problems together.

Lastly, please tell us what you think about Chung Ju Yung Startup Competition.
– We will grow as fast as we can so that we can have chance to help young entrepreneurs participating in Chung Ju Yung Startup Competition.

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