James O’Sullivan, CEO & Founder of Nuke from Orbit

Who are you and what’s your background?

I am James O’Sullivan, CEO and Founder of Nuke From Orbit. I am a technology entrepreneur, having been in technology all my life. I wrote my first programme in the late 80s when I was eight. Most notably, I founded Kobas, the complete hospitality management platform, in 2009, a business I am still involved in today. My route into the fintech industry is novel, given that had I not had thousands of pounds stolen from my digital wallet when my phone was stolen, we probably would not be having this conversation!

What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?

As the CEO, I have responsibilities across a broad spectrum of duties. We are a small team, so I have to be very hands-on. From fundraising and networking to product development, recruitment to partnership, legal, finances and everything in between, I wear any number of hats given the priorities in the business at any one time, but right now, I’m focused on building the foundations of our partner portal and bringing in new partners.

Can you give us an overview of your business?

    Nuke From Orbit protects your digital identity and puts you back in control by limiting the financial and reputational impact of having your smartphone stolen. The perfect defence is an illusion, so when things go wrong, Nuke From Orbit revolutionises mobile security by providing instant invalidation of stolen data, including the cancellation of bank cards, securing digital accounts, and blocking the device SIM in a single action quickly, efficiently, and with minimal fuss.

    In a world where mobile phone theft is rising, Nuke From Orbit stands out with its mission to safeguard critical financial accounts and personal identifiable information (PII). With a mobile phone stolen every six minutes in London alone, the repercussions extend beyond the physical loss of a handset to potential financial, data loss, hacking, and reputational damage.

    We provide the instant invalidation of stolen data via a consumer-friendly app with security at its core. The app will integrate with all the major banks, card providers, mobile networks, and other apps and services.

    Designed to allow users to shut down access to all personal data – banking, crypto, health, social media profiles, store accounts, email, etc., are all closed off, so criminals cannot use logins and account information to spend their money and scam others in their name. Our technology is AES 256-bit, secure encryption that encrypts and decrypts blocks of messages, providing the highest level of protection. When customers manage their data through the app, they can:

    • Cancel debit and credit cards instantly and simultaneously
    • Block phone SIM cards to limit communication, reduce the risk of SIM cloning and prevent the delivery of one-time codes
    • Secure account information and preserve reputations

    And it’s all done with one simple action.

    We partner with financial institutions, mobile network operators, social media networks, De-Fi companies, and service providers like hotels and airlines; effectively, anyone that gives users access to platforms and subscriptions through apps and services.

    The website lets consumers and businesses sign up for the waiting list. The community is critical to expanding the customer base because there is safety in numbers. The more people that have the app, the easier it is for someone to access the service and shut down accounts in case of theft. Encouraging users to share the app with their families, friends, colleagues, and personal networks builds a more robust security network.

    Tell us how you are funded?

    We are backed by angel investors, and we have raised funding through contra deals relevant to the company. We are at the pre-seed stage, and it’s been an incredibly useful learning experience for when – and more importantly if – we need to raise more money in the future.

    What’s the origin story? Why did you start the company? To solve what problems?

    While out with friends one night, my phone went missing. Once home, I tried to track it from another device, only to find that my password had been changed.

      I started calling my banks, only to discover that tens of thousands of pounds had been spent on cards saved in my digital wallet. I couldn’t quickly cancel my cards without my phone, as I couldn’t access their apps or my 2FA, creating a catch-22.

      It seemed ridiculous that there wasn’t a one-and-done way of shutting everything down – not just bank cards and apps, but email, social media and all the other services and subscriptions living on our phones.

      That is where the idea came from. We are putting more and more deeply personal information on our phones, so if they get stolen, we’re not just losing our contacts; as I experienced, it’s much more than that. It’s a horrible moment, but it would have been better knowing I had a ‘nuke it from orbit’ option that instantly invalidated the data on my phone.

      Why ‘Nuke from Orbit’? In information security, ‘nuke it from orbit’ is a popular term for ‘wiping your system and starting from a clean slate’. It’s for when a company’s IT has been so thoroughly compromised that the only choice is to completely recreate it—exactly like when your phone has been stolen. Oh, and the film Aliens is a thing. Obviously.

      Who are your target customers? What’s your revenue model?

      Our target customers at Nuke From Orbit are individuals and businesses with a bank card in their digital wallet and who use social media, email, or financial apps on their phones. If you are reading this article, it almost certainly includes you.

        In terms of our revenue model, initially, we want to see user growth with cards being added and networks growing. This is key to securing our ‘first-mover’ advantage. Our pricing beyond the free period will still fit in the ‘no-brainer’ category because we want it to be accessible to as many people as possible, which means keeping the cost down.

        We also envisage offering corporate packages for businesses with a large mobile workforce that need access to business-critical systems via mobile applications. Think CRMs, accounting software (yes, there is no limit to who can be a Nuke From Orbit partner), and any system through which employees can readily access customer data on their mobile.

        If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change in the banking and/or FinTech sector?

        My main wish for the FinTech sector is that the baseline level of technology is levelled up. Too many traditional banks have systems written in the 1980s and can’t do things easily or quickly, which stifles innovation. Neo banks are much better, but I would like the whole model simplified, taking the good concepts and innovations from the crypto De-Fi world and enhancing them with their experience and governance.

        What is your message for the larger players in the Financial Services marketplace?

        Don’t be on the outside looking in. Work with us to help keep people’s finances safe. Better collaboration in the banking sector is needed, and Nuke From Orbit is a great way to do this without having to partner with your competitors. We want to partner with every bank, big and small, so whatever the makeup of a user’s wallet is, their entire portfolio of debit and credit cards is protected.

        Where do you get your Financial Services/FinTech industry news from?

        It’s an exciting time to be in the Fintech sector. Resources such as LinkedIn, key industry publications, and networking with the community have helped me gain a deeper understanding of this sector. It’s fast-paced, innovative, and constantly evolving with new technologies. With each new technology comes fraud risks, so I am proud to contribute to the industry’s efforts to tackle fraud.

          Can you list 3 people you rate from the FinTech and/or Financial Services sector that we should be following on LinkedIn, and why?

          I have heard Anne Boden (founder of Starling Bank) speak a few times and always enjoy it. On LinkedIn I’m fed many posts by Marcel van Oost and David Jimenez Maireles, which I frequently find value in.

          Anne’s journey inspires me, as does how she overcame many preconceptions to get the bank started and how she speaks accessibly.

          With Marcel and David, I find that, as a beginner in FinTech, especially around payments, they publish clear posts that can be easily understood and give a reasonably balanced view of the global financial technology scene.

            What FinTech services (and/or apps) do you personally use?

              For my finances, I currently have accounts with nine different banks, from traditional banks like HSBC and Barclays to neo-banks like Monzo, Revolut, Tide, and Starling. I am trying BAAS and chatbots at the moment—it was strange to start with, but I am embracing them as they are transforming the way we bank for the better.

              I follow De-Fi trends and avidly follow the crypto world. Apps such as Kraken and Metamask have influenced my crypto decisions, while A2A payments have really helped streamline my world this year. I find them a nice confluence between Nuke From Orbit and Kobas.

              What’s the best new FinTech product or service you’ve seen recently?

              It’s got to be Apple’s Stolen Phone Mode! I wrote extensively about this on our blog, but the crib notes version of this story is…great: one of the biggest tech companies in the world has recognised the same problem we have. And no, we’re not worried that this invalidates our solution. The service does not go far enough to give customers the protection they need. And that tells us we are on to something good!

              Finally, let’s talk predictions. What trends do you think are going to define the next few years in the FinTech sector?

              It’s cliched, but AI will be the last technology revolution to which I’ll want/need to dedicate time. I have lived through three major technology inflexion points: home computing in the late 80s and early 90s, the internet around the turn of the century, and the move to mobile in the late noughties. I was well placed to learn and play with these changes, and I believe that AI will be as big a shift as them all combined.

                At the moment, Nuke From Orbit is not an AI product, and that is unlikely to change in the near future. However, AI will inevitably be critical at some point in helping us scale our service globally as we look to manage myriad partnerships and integrations while keeping our team reasonably lean. Businesses are becoming insolvent at an alarming rate, and any business leader will tell you that labour costs are their single greatest expense. Furthermore, with an investor landscape where crazy burn rates are no longer acceptable, AI technologies are fundamental to augmenting existing talent pools and keeping costs down without leading to employee burnout.


                Download the app today: https://nuke.app/

                Connect with James on LinkedIn.

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