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April 11, 2022 Tech 25

2022 Tech 25: Flow ID’s technology makes password management less of a hassle


With so many passwords we need password managers; with so many cyber threats we need two-step verification.

There’s got to be a better way, and Richard Hires says his company Flow ID has the answer.

The Windsor startup takes a blockchain approach to the problem of verification. There are no passwords and access relies on delegated authority. Your information is stored locally and never leaves your possession.

The patent-pending technology is designed to work on mobile devices and, yes, it starts with facial recognition. But once a user establishes a pattern of use and a network of trusted connections, the facial recognition aspect fades in importance and becomes just one point of verification.

Flow ID will be able to verify a customer whose face is wrapped in bandages based on other unique behavior indicators, Hires explains.

Flow ID will make its debut on an international stage this month when it starts verifying customers for Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify.

Hires acknowledges the challenge ahead is more marketing than software. For Shopify, Flow ID will verify age and identity and provide an audit trail, a vital step for retailers selling adult products like cigarettes and alcohol.

But Flow ID’s mix of biometric and behavioral measures can leverage GPS and intellectual property identification with blockchain security. Those are all characteristics that make Flow ID a competitor for banking and government business, Hires says.

And consumers should love the logic of retaining their information, rather than seeing it spread — and sold — across the internet. Within Flow ID, information is only shared with permission of both parties. And there’s no cost to the consumer.

Hires explains that his background is in logistics while his partner is the cybersecurity software expert. They originally planned to focus on the financial industry first but that proved a bit too ambitious in a business world hampered by the pandemic. They’ve worked largely via videoconference with one developer to get the product ready for its e-commerce debut with Shopify.

But there’s more work to be done, Hires says, to build out the capabilities for that step into the financial world. That means hiring seven or eight more developers and raising more funding.

They’ve raised $500,000 in seed funding and are out trying to raise $1.5 million more. In the fall, they expect to go to market seeking $8 million to $10 million in series A funding.

For Hires, being able to be sure who you’re dealing with is the Holy Grail of cybersecurity. And there are lots of potentially lucrative business applications for the technology. But Hires is eager for the day when Flow ID can show its value in the social media space.

Knowing the person you’re talking with on a dating site is who they say they are is a potential game changer, he says.

More immediately, Hires says Flow ID’s technology is more cost-effective, reliable and customer-friendly than anything else in the market.

And he’s ready to prove it, starting with Shopify.

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