The rise of digital platforms such as Uber, Ola, Zomato, Swiggy and a slew of consumer-facing internet businesses has transformed the way people work, socialise and generate profits. Platform or gig economy has made it possible for customers to access services without actually having to ever interact with the aggregator — in an ideal scenario.
Naturally, the gig economy presents more risks for employers as typically these transient workers do not have robust documentation for background checks and screening. So while gig economy is a real employment opportunity for many unskilled workers, there is a lot of friction in hiring. Questions center around the trust-worthiness of both service providers and customers. This risk is intensified with recurring instances of crimes in delivery operations thanks to weak background checks.
In order to mitigate these risks, gig economy companies rely on AI-powered background checks and as with most innovation for gig economy, startups are at the forefront here too.
“The biggest challenge everyone was facing in background checks was that there was an information depository available on individuals in terms of making hiring decisions, initially, and large companies had huge workforce of 30K-40K employees where onboarding was very expensive for them to just keep them line till the time they don’t get background checks done,” said Varun Mirchandani, cofounder of Helloverify.
Noida-based SaaS startup Hello Verify’s software allows them to verify thousands of people in minutes instead of days or weeks. The startup allows enterprises to rapidly hire at scale with ease, through its machine learning and AI technology platform which increases the speed of background screening, catches more bad actors, and thus ensures a more accurate offering as compared to the traditional ways of background checks.
Founded by brothers Karan and Varun Mirchandani in 2018, Hello Verify today employs over 300 people, has conducted over 5 Mn background checks and counts over 110 enterprise customers among its clients. Its investors include Lead Angels Network, Y Combinator, Data Collective, and VentureSouq. The company was also a part of the Winter 2018 batch of startup accelerator Y Combinator.
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Machine Learning Does The Screening
Helloverify’s collaborative technology mechanism where the onboarding is performed by a combination of computer vision and proprietary algorithms. The company database is able to tap into public databases such as UAN (used for Provident Fund contributions), driving license, PAN card, Aadhaar, court records and more, to offer a 360-degree view of an individual’s background.
Helloverify claims to have created a proprietary database of fake suspect companies, fake education qualifications, and fake education degrees, which helps the machine to automatically alert when a candidate has entered any fake details on the documents. The system can also run cross-reference with other existing documents in the public domain to mark any inconsistencies in the details shared by the prospective hire.
How does the system help bulk recruiters? “When we work with Ola in over maybe 10 cities, we’ve been able to demonstrate that and our accuracy level is more than 99% and we’ve been able to validate maybe over 30K plus drivers for them,” said Varun.
Helloverify systems do involve 10% human dependency, where a person has to feed in new information into the system such as a fake university which has recently surfaced in an application or update the other databases. And once that learning happens, the systems are said to automatically pick up and continue learning as it goes forward.
Varun believes that this mix of human and machine participation will always remain because in a large country like India, one needs to make sure the tech is right, but obviously, 10% of human intervention will always be required in some form or the other to add that nuance.
Helloverify charges clients for each background report or screening. This could be a new-hire or on-going checks for existing employees. The checks are done on the tailor-based requirement, thus the cost of every check depends on the requirement though the company is said to introduce a subscription plan soon for companies to do bulk screenings.
While Helloverify has already got the likes of Indigo, Ola, Uber, Infosys, HeroFinCorp, Axis Bank, ICICI Prudential and Genpact as clients, it faces competition in the form of AuthBridge, Verifitech India, KPMG’s SpringVerify and the US-based First Advantage among other players.
Expanding Use Cases And Going Beyond Job Screening
The screening market in India is exploding today. Job portals in India have over 50M individuals and 75K companies listed on their platforms for recruitment needs. This market alone is pegged at $2 Bn. However, Helloverify’s capabilities are not just limited to hiring. The company is looking to tap into an even larger opportunity by creating products for peer-to-peer lending, governmental purposes, and online marketplaces.
This extensible approach is estimated to allow Helloverify in addressing a large base of 100 Mn individuals in India over the next five years.
In addition to screening candidates for hiring purposes, the company has also entered the financial services space by collaborating with Axis Bank. It has collaborated with embassies in India to provide a robust screening process for visa applicants as well.
Varun envisions the company’s system to be a huge benefit for the digital lending and underwriting process. Digital lending is exploding in India and has driven fintech funding in 2019. Helloverify is also said to be working on a product in collaboration with Magicbricks for screening tenants and hosts.
With the world moving towards the platform economy, where teams continue to collaborate and work remotely, and where workers are transient in nature, the need for background checks will only keep rising. Manual verification is simply too prohibitive from cost and resource point of view, and all digital businesses would need to use Helloverify or similar products to support rapid growth. Simply put, it’s a good time to be in the business of background screen and identity verification.