With the Covid-19 global pandemic still raging, there is new interest in contactless biometrics to authenticate consumers in retail, banking, travel and transportation and make easy touchless payments.
In 2017, in Lviv (Western Ukraine), Yuriy Holuzynets and Stanislav Berdnyk co-founded fintech startup Riddletag for the purpose of helping companies better automate their business processes. Their goal was to make face recognition simple and affordable for a wide variety of businesses and industries.
“The first concept was to build a solution based on facial recognition to replace the millions of plastic loyalty cards in retail,” said Mr. Holuzynets. “But we failed with that concept because the big companies which provide loyalty program services for their customers would not accept collaboration with a small company or a startup.”
So, Riddletag modified its initial concept to focus instead on public transportation systems.
In January 2020, Riddletag’s biometric facial recognition system was tested in the subway of Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. The service offered passengers the ability to purchase a ticket and pass through the subway turnstile quickly using facial biometrics through a partnership with the private Bank of Georgia and the credit card company VISA. Subway riders were able to download the bank’s free app and register their facial biometrics within a minute.
While the Tbilisi metro is currently closed due to the global pandemic, Holuzynets is confident that the project will scale to become an actual fully operational system once the subway reopens later this year.
In addition to its Lviv headquarters, Riddletag has an office for investment purposes in Estonia. The company was basically bootstrapped financially, but does have one major angel investor based in Munich.
Holuzynets points out that “our current staff is seven team members who work in various roles. We will be growing quickly in the next few months as we move our technology to an online platform so we can pursue business customers”.
Riddletag is a member of the Ukrainian Association for Fintech and Innovation Companies (UAFIC) which fosters the development of the domestic financial technology ecosystem. The 2019 Ukrainian fintech market survey published by UAFIC cited Riddletag among the top ten new fintech startups in Ukraine.
You can listen to a recent podcast interview with Yuriy Holuzynets here.