The second in our special series of startups attending the Innovate Finance Global Summit on 11th April, is with Joe Luong from Crypta Labs.
Our questions are in bold.
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Who are you and what’s your background?
I’m Joe Luong, Co-Founder and CEO of Crypta Labs. In terms of my professional background, I studied Business and Management at Brunel University and after graduating went on to become an accountant. One of my first jobs was as a ‘roaming’ Financial Controller, working for numerous overseas Hotels including Hotel Equatorial Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Hotel Samal in Kazakhstan; and Parrot Cay Resort & COMO Shambhala Retreat in Turks and Caicos Island.
My first step into entrepreneurship was when I co-founded (and became CEO) of iProsper Media, a digital marketing agency specialising in Financial Services. I have spent the last 20 years in technology, finance and operational leadership roles, focusing on the service sector, marketing and technology.
What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?
I am co-founder and CEO of Crypta Labs, a London based mobile cybersecurity startup. I’m responsible for managing a team of highly skilled (and slightly mad) Quantum Physicists, Cryptographers, Engineers and Entrepreneurial troops who are working to build our Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) on a Mobile Device. In reality, I’m chief cheerleader for Crypta Labs, sounding out and meeting with potential investors.
Can you give us an overview of your business?
Crypta Labs is an award winning mobile security startup, developing a Quantum (True) Random Number Generator on a Mobile Device. We’re using an original process which uses the quantum property of light to generate a random number.
The security chip that we are developing can be placed in all devices where hardware encryption is necessary, such as mobile phones, laptops, tablets, IoT devices, etc. and it’s relevant for a wide range of industries such as financial services, government, defence, healthcare, communications, network security and transportation.
We have been been recognised for our innovation in cyber security and mobile security by techUK, Infosec Europe, Citigroup, and have been named recently Cybersecurity Startup of the Year 2015. Crypta Labs is a member of Innovate Finance, the London Cyber Security Cluster and CyberY.
We also have a consulting practice, Crypta Consultancy, specialising in cybersecurity, cryptography and quantum cryptography for financial services sector.
Tell us how you are funded.
We were founded in early 2014, and until last October, when we raised £40,000 through Angel’s Den, we were entirely self-funded. However, we’re at a stage now where our technology (and science) have attracted interest from several Financial Services and Government agencies, so we’re looking to raise an additional £110k to finalise our SEIS round.
Why did you start the company? To solve what problems?
Our team is passionate about improving mobile security – and security in general! It’s astonishing how weak mobile security is, particularly when you think about finance, which is a key market for us. We need to get to grips with the issue, and if we don’t, it will get the better of us.
The cost to the global economy of cybercrime and fraud is hundreds of billions of dollars. The industry standard of encryption uses a PRNG – a Pseudo Random Number Generator. We want to see an industry-wide move to True Random Number Generators. Their truly random nature makes the encryption harder to crack, and we’re working with mobile payments providers to make this a reality. Our solution – a Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) – is unique as it can be used on a mobile device.
We want to have our technology installed on all mobile products including mobile phones, tablets, smart-watches and Internet of Things devices.
Who are your target customers? What’s your revenue model?
We’re currently still in our RnD phase. Having said that, we have just signed up one client- Teska Labs, which is a mobile security company. We are in discussions with payment providers, including Yellow Pepper (www.yellowpepper.com), one of the largest mobile payment solutions in South America. We are also in discussions with Citigroup to provide them with a mobile security solution for their clients.
If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change in the banking and/or FinTech sector?
There’s a complacency towards mobile security which concerns me. The level of security currently in place on a mobile phone is next to nothing – but our whole lives are either on our phones, or can be accessed through them! Big companies accept a level of risk and fraud as part of their risk assessment- but as an end user that isn’t reassuring! This can only be resolved by an industry-wide solution.
What is your message for the larger players in the Finance industry?
There are two ways of looking at the security problem – on a macro level, the system is flawed. What we need is a cybersecurity “space-race”, and we are hoping to be leading in that. On the other hand, it’s also up to end users to demand the best security available.
What phone are you carrying and why?
Currently I’m using 2 x android and 1 x iPhone. I love Android – it’s far more flexible to my business and personal requirements, and has great functionality. I find it hard to get things done on an iPhone because of its operating system and functionality limitations – BUT half the world is on iPhone and our market is providing solutions for a range of mobiles so I have to have both!
Where do you get your industry news from?
Twitter is my link to the world! Also Tech Crunch. And I really like an app called Flipboard (which is a glorified RSS feed).
*(You can follow Crypta Labs @cryptalabs or Joe @JoeHQLuong)
Can you list 3 people you rate from the FinTech sector that we should be following on Twitter?
I prefer to look at the new guys coming up, rather than the ‘experts’. We’re in an ever-changing, global game, so I look at those working in global fintech hubs – not just London, but New York et al. I also look to Singapore and the far east and those who are coming up with cool, interesting solutions, who are quite often real techies!
Can you suggest the name of an Angel Investor or VC that might be interested in being profiled?
Ian MacPherson- Big fintech investor
Angel’s Den has a big fintech community.
Finally, let’s talk predictions. What trends do you think are going to define the next few years in the FinTech sector?
2016 will be the year when both mobile and IoT security firms come to the fore to offer solutions to help secure the IoT and mobile payments, enabling the continued growth of the sector. Solutions providers like ourselves which deal specifically with securing end-to-end encryption will play a role in this but also anti-malware in the IoT systems, firewalls, detection, simpler authentication etc. will play their part.
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Huge thanks to Joe for his answers today. You can find out more about Crypta Labs on their website, twitter and linkedin.
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