April 22, 2015

Revolutionizing passwords, one selfie at a time

The startup company EyeVerify wants to “get rid of the password” for logging in to devices, and it has help from Wells Fargo’s Startup Accelerator program.

A startup in Kansas City, Missouri, is working to change the way we access our secure accounts online, using a picture of your eye as your password.

EyeVerify CEO Toby Rush founded the company in 2012 to apply the technology to everyday use through mobile devices. The technology was first developed by biometric expert Dr. Reza Derakhshani at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to confirm identities for governments.

Now EyeVerify says it’s working with dozens of companies (including seven of the top 10 smartphone manufacturers in the world) to change how people log in to everything from mobile banking to healthcare websites.

“In the next couple of years, you will see us on hundreds of millions of devices,” says Toby. “We’re basically getting rid of the password.”

EyeVerify’s product, Eyeprint ID, works with the camera on a user’s mobile device to take a picture of the eye to create a secure “password.” The program then uses imaging and pattern-matching of the blood vessels in the whites of the eye for account verification.

Last August, EyeVerify was one of three emerging businesses chosen to participate in the inaugural class of the Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator program. Each company received up to $500,000 and six months of collaborative support from a team of Wells Fargo finance professionals and innovators.

The other startups selected were Zumigo, a mobile-services developer that uses location and mobile identity for secure commerce and mobile marketing, and Kasisto, the builder of an artificial intelligence technology designed to improve the consumer experience on mobile financial applications.

“One of the goals of the Startup Accelerator program is to test the companies’ concepts to help validate its technology and market direction,” says Steve Ellis, head of Wells Fargo Wholesale Services.

Toby says his company applied for the program as one way of helping achieve its goal to change the way people log in to their banking accounts from mobile devices. He saw working with Wells Fargo as an opportunity to fast-track that goal by gaining an inside look at mobile banking and the security challenges it poses to password technology.

“It’s great to get validation from an industry perspective,” says Toby of working with the team that spanned several Wells Fargo businesses during weekly calls over six months. “Having Wells Fargo working with us and as an investor has helped us move forward with the financial services sector.”