Bloom co-founder Jesse Leimgruber recently sat down with Monica Malpass of Nasdaq MarketSite to talk about how Bloom is empowering consumers to take control of their data and bringing digital identity systems to governments and banks around the world.
Check out the full video or text transcript below:
Monica: Hi everyone. I'm Monica Malpass and today we're here to talk about Bloom, which is a company that helps consumers to secure their identity and of course to have their own credit scoring services more easily available. Bloom does give consumers ownership over their financial data, their identity, and explaining all of this today is the CEO, Jesse Leimgruber. How are you?
Jesse: Thanks for having me.
Monica: Thank you so much for being here. Tell me a little bit about your mission and how it is taking off.
Jesse: Well, there's a lot of problems with identity and credit scoring around the world. We saw what happened in the Equifax hack where hundreds of millions of Americans had their identity leaked around the world.
A lot of consumers cannot open up bank accounts because they don't have government issued identities, right? And the problems are only getting worse. Consumers have less and less control of their data than ever. And so we built an app, a mobile app, where consumers can set up an identity, establish a credit anywhere in the world, open up financial accounts and really take control of their own data and identity.
Monica: And the goal really is pretty broad to make it more secure, also more transparent and equitable, which is not the easiest thing. How do you accomplish that?
Jesse: Well, right now we have a mobile app where users can set up an identity and they monitor their identity for hacks. It tells them if they're in a breach, it gives them information and how they can better establish themselves.
We have about a million users so far. It only launched last year, so we've seen pretty exponential growth, and in general, we're working with the governments major banks to roll out our solution so that their country can have a better identity system or their bank can onboard the 3 billion people that currently don't have identities.
Monica: Right. And so let's talk more about how the cross border has been helpful as well as challenging.
Jesse: Yeah, so around the world, the financial markets, the financial system is nowhere near as mature it is as it is in the United States. And so if you look at South America, if you look at Asia, these markets have really rich developing populations, but a lot of their population cannot do things like open up bank accounts.
And so we've partnered with these governments and these top leading banks in order to essentially look forward and say, what sort of systems and solutions do we need in our country to make sure that our population can come online, have financial inclusion, and so we actually will partner directly with governments and major banks in order to roll out our technology,
Monica: So in theory, that skips a couple of steps in a good way for many of these small countries or developing countries. They have their own currency. You skip that phase. They also have obviously a problem trying to get it out to everyone in small villages. Are you able to jump past a few hurdles?
Jesse: Yeah, I mean, you hit on a really good point. You know, the traditional system is largely based on credit bureaus, which are companies that are responsible for essentially running the credit system for a country. But if you're a nation that doesn't currently have a credit bureau, those tools and those solutions may be better with a partnership directly with somebody like Bloom. And so we're able to work directly with the governments in order to say, you know, where is the country at now and where do they want the future to be? And one of the major themes that we're seeing with things like GDPR, LGPD, California Data Protection Act, is that consumers want control of their data.
Consumers realize that companies are mining and selling their information, leaking it, and then selling them solutions, like dark web monitoring, for problems that they cause. So it's, it's really struck a chord.
Monica: But, how do you make your products secure? That's the key issue for any company.
Security is number one right now. There are more hacks today then ever. If you see in the news, you've seen that virtually everyone has had a data breach. Facebook, Google, Equifax. I mean, the list goes on. So rather than, and this is the big difference with Bloom, rather than store the identity data, the sensitive personal data on the cloud, which is vulnerable to hacks, we store it on the user's local device. So the user controls their own information. The user decides who gets to see it and how it's shared.
Monica: That gives you more control, number one, and doesn't have it out in such a wide area, number two.
Jesse: Exactly. Reducing that area, reducing that data exposure is, is number one.
And this was actually a principle that we've had for a long time. My cofounders and I started the company out of Stanford. And we both worked on previous companies in data and analytics and one of the recurring themes we realized is that, you know, as a company, we are custodians responsible for a lot of data and security.
If you can decentralize this, if you can give that control to the user, it's more secure, the user doesn't have their data being sold, and it prevents things like data breaches.
Monica: You have a number of products. Let's talk about the differences between BloomID, BloomIQ, and BloomScore. What are they?
Jesse: Absolutely. So we have a few different products and services. Our biggest product is our mobile app. It's an iOS and Android app. It's got about a million users. And it allows people anywhere in the world to set up an identity, monitor if they're being hacked or in a data breach, it's completely free, and with this identity you're able to access financial services even if you don't have a traditional bank account or government issued ID.
And then on the other side, that's our consumer app. On the other side, we build products and services for banks and governments to improve their fraud and reduce their fraud and improve their ability to access new markets and reach billions of additional people.
Monica: Two very big tasks that you've taken on.
Jesse: Very, very big task. And that's why for us partnering with market consortiums, groups, speaking opportunities, we're part of the Decentralized Identity Foundation. We've just recently joined another one called Identity Review. We work with these consortiums and groups that can give us access directly to different governments and different groups that can help us roll out our products.
Monica: And I think it's exciting that a user on the consumer side can decide what information goes on their BloomID so they can further limit what's out there. Is that right?
Jesse: That's exactly right. And you know, if you look at your credit score right now, you have a credit score, whether you want it or not.
These major bureaus are collecting your data, whether you ask them to or not. And it's not even really logical. I mean, you need to take out debt in order to have a credit score. This increases a debt driven society. It doesn't even make sense. That doesn't even look at things like your bank assets. So, with Bloom, users can proactively establish their ID, they can show their employment, show their bank assets, and they can actually bring their data into the fold instead of having somebody collect it in the background.
Monica: And what all can you do with the BloomID besides just the obvious list of your assets when you want them there?
Jesse: Right. So the BloomID fundamentally is an, is a new ID that's an alternative to a traditional government issued ID. So it proves out your identity right now. We work with banks so that banks can accept this, but even for free today, your ID works for you. So it will tell you things like if you've been in a data breach, if you've been hacked, it will help you monitor your credit score. It will show you what you can do to improve your credit. And so your ID works, in a way it helps you, see more about your data, take control of that data, and help you get looped better into the financial fold.
Monica: And BloomID also eliminates the need for usernames and passwords, which I'm excited about because I have lists and lists of them and I keep forgetting which is password is for which thing.
Jesse: That, that's right. You know, if you look at usernames and passwords, it's completely broken. We have all of these leaked databases.
Your passwords are probably leaked on the dark web. I mean, everyone's is and there are alternatives, you know, sign in with Google, sign in with Facebook, but yet another time where we're trusting companies to control our data. So with BloomID, it's a sign in system as well that you can control. It's a very versatile system and platform.
Monica: Recently, you also added some high profile executives to your company. Tell me more about that.
Jesse: Absolutely. So our COO was the former Chief Scientist of Experian Consumer Group. He reported directly to the CEO of North America Experian, the largest credit bureau. So he's recently joined us as COO, which I'm very excited about.
And then the former CEO of Experian North America, Victor Nichols, has recently joined us as an advisor as well. So connecting with the traditional industry is absolutely important for us, even know though we're a start up.
Monica: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much, Jesse Leimgruber. Good luck to you, exciting developments for companies and consumers, and we're hoping it goes very well and continues to increase.
Jesse: Thank you so much. Really appreciate you having me.
Monica: All right. Thanks for joining us.
Bloom is a blockchain solution for digital identity and cross-border credit scoring, restoring ownership and control of identity information and financial data back to consumers. By decentralizing the way that information is shared between untrusted parties, the system reduces the risk of identity theft and minimizes costs associated with customer on-boarding, compliance, and fraud prevention.
Together, we are paving a path for a fairer and more secure credit system, redefining the way that credit and finance are conducted.
To learn more about the latest with Bloom: