Adrian Black, CEO of Contego, gives an interview on the company's history and what the future may hold in 2015. The article provides an overview of Contego's services, discusses its use of 'best of breed' data sets and customers' ability to access data in real-time.

Please provide an overview of Contego, including its history, and the solutions it provides.

As a director for a division of DMGT (Daily Mail General Trust plc.) I witnessed the explosion in online fraud and felt that the threat would only become greater as more companies adopted the online channel. In order to make intelligent, risk-based business decisions about their customers, companies need access to data from multiple providers. I saw the need for a solution that provided companies with access to multiple datasets, including shared intelligence, in a single platform. That’s why Contego was born.

In 2013, Contego went head-to-head with Dun & Bradstreet and Experian and won a contract to supply Regus, one of the largest providers of office space in the world, with a new workflow system that delivers an efficient customer onboarding process compliant with two sets of regulations. We now work with four out of the top five largest operators within the business centre market.

How has the broader market received the company’s solution? Where is Contego today?

Based on our performance in the virtual office sector, we expanded our focus to target other industry sectors, where fraud reduction, identity verification and regulatory compliance were important. We are now particularly active in the financial services sector, helping early stage Fintech businesses to set up risk and compliance processes, hence our membership of Innovate Finance, as well as improving the efficiency of existing processes of larger companies. Other key sectors are background screening and property - particularly on the lettings and tenant referencing side.

What makes Contego’s solution superior to those offered by competitors?

In essence, we help companies solve complex risk problems. Risks and process complexities vary by customer and our ability to seamlessly integrate data and decision rules helps our customers ensure compliance with AML and other regulations, reduce their exposure to fraud and help protect their corporate reputations.

Our solution makes the risk-related decision process better, faster, and more cost-effective. That’s why we’ve been so successful in the virtual office space. In simple terms, our role is to help our customers gather “best-of-breed” data and extract maximum benefit from it.

You mentioned that Contego gathers “best-of-breed” data. What does that really mean?

We help our customers gather data from multiple sources including, but not limited to, the better-known brands. Subsequently, customers combine multiple streams of data with their internal data to make a fully informed decision about the companies and individuals under consideration.

Contego is data agnostic. If our customer views a particular stream of data as important to their decision-making process, we will integrate that data into Contego’s platform. Our ability to integrate data extends beyond the UK as we often help our customers gather data from multiple international sources. We also help customers gain access to scarce or sensitive data sources including law enforcement intelligence.

Do Contego’s customers access data in real-time?

Yes, the results are returned in real-time. Smaller volume customers typically access the data via a dedicated web portal; however, as volumes increase, customers integrate Contego into their own systems via our API.

Our solution allows customers to refine their processes and centralise data in a single platform. This in turn creates operational efficiencies and can also reduce internal IT costs and delays. In one platform, they have the data to make a risk-based decision regarding their exposure to compliance or fraud – all in real-time.

Who decides what data to include in the customers platform? Do you mandate the use of certain types of data?

As I mentioned, Contego is supplier agnostic. We serve as a conduit for data that the customer needs to ensure compliance and minimise risk. For example, if the client wants access to Experian’s data, Contego grabs that data via the customer’s API. In such a scenario, the customer retains the data-licensing contract whilst we create additional value for both the client and the supplier.

Our partnership with ID Checker allows us to process identity documents as part of conducting proof of identity, and we can now process passports, driving licences, visas and biometric residence permits (BRPs). The next stage in this process is to develop an automated solution to help “Right to work” and “Right to reside” decisions, for pre-employment screening companies and tenant referencing within the property lettings sector.

What does the future hold for Contego?

We will continue to adapt and customise our solution to help customers manage their exposure to risk. Since we employ an Agile development process, customers often engage Contego to integrate any additional data they need, so becoming an innovation and development partner in many cases. We see that trend continuing.

Given the ever-changing regulatory environment and the importance of data in the risk management process, we see many applications for our solution across a broad range of industries, both in the UK, Europe and globally.