Andrew Gowasack will speak at Hacker Connect on Monday, January 22, 2018, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square on “Authentication game changers: biometrics, fingerprints and other technologies.”
We’re really excited to have you joining us as a speaker for Inman Connect New York, but tell us a little more about yourself. How did you arrive in your current role?
I believe I inherited the entrepreneur bug from my family.
My grandfather grew up as an orphan in Trinidad and fought against the odds to operate his own store on the island. My grandfather worked so that my father could go to college in the United States. He eventually settled in Atlanta, opening his own dental practice.
I am an economist by training and started my career in financial services sales and marketing. My wife introduced me to Gareth, my co-founder at Trust Stamp. We hit it off immediately over dinner — aided by the fact that I had come prepared with his favorite cigars.
We researched a variety of potential ventures together before zeroing in on the promise of Trust Stamp.
Gareth’s mentorship gave me the final push I needed to quit my job and jump headfirst into the world of entrepreneurship. Since then, I have immersed myself in the startup environment, completing incubator programs through Founder’s Space in San Francisco, QC FinTech in Charlotte, and NAR’s REach program in Chicago.
Tell us a little more about your session, what kinds of things will you be talking about in January?
Before establishing a business relationship, people need to have a level of confidence that they know who they are dealing with and that the other person is someone they can trust.
Since many business relationships originate online and many markets are moving to an on-demand style of business, the need for fast and secure identity authentication has never been more important.
As illustrated by the high-profile hackings over the last three years, traditional methods of identity authentication, like usernames with passwords, knowledge-based security questions and even the Social Security number are subject to data breaches, spoofing and phishing.
Any business that relies on these methodologies must now assume that their systems are compromised. In fact, enterprises, government, and consumers lose an estimated $500 billion per year to identity fraud and account takeover.
The use of biometrics for identity authentication has started to become more mainstream, but to many people, it still seems like futurism. My primary goal for this session is to separate facts from fiction by highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of biometric solutions.
Secondly, I will illustrate how these technologies are already having a major impact on the market, and explore how the real estate industry might use them to improve both efficiency and security.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My typical day is primarily focused on supporting business development efforts across all of Trust Stamp’s verticals, as well as establishing and nurturing investor relationships.
What do you think the biggest challenges facing the real estate industry are at the moment?
One of the biggest unspoken challenges real estate is wire fraud.
Globally, wire fraud losses exceed $50 billion per year, and as a high ticket item, real estate has become one of the fraudsters’ favorite markets. This year, the FBI reported that almost $1 billion had been lost in the U.S. real estate market alone. Nearly every real estate broker and title company representative we’ve talked to has experienced it within their company, or knew someone who did.
It works like this: scammers will phish or socially engineer their way into an email account — typically the agent’s account — and wait. They will observe emails to get the transaction information they need to sound and look credible. Near the closing day, they will send an email that looks like it came from the title company with altered wire instructions. Too often, clients fall for it. The funds are recovered in less than 5 percent of cases.
Wire fraud doesn’t only hurt consumers, but it also harms consumer trust in agents, brokers, title companies and the entire real estate industry.
Consumers who have been victims of wire fraud are beginning to sue brokers and agents — one couple sued their agent and brokerage after losing $272,000. In a separate incident, a California real estate broker was sued for over a half a million dollars. The worst part of this is that we haven’t yet found errors and omissions insurance that covers clients’ direct losses from wire fraud.
What I find most concerning is that many real estate professionals insist that it won’t happen to them. Rather than push this issue aside, I believe we need to use 2018 to talk about it.
2018’s shaping up to be a really exciting year, and as we look ahead, what are your hopes for the next 12 months, and what will you be working on?
We are in the process of completing our closed beta of Trusted Mail, our encrypted email solution, and it will be available to all real estate professionals in January 2018.
Trusted Mail uses the sender’s facial biometrics to digitally sign and encrypt sensitive emails and attachments. The email and attachments can only be decrypted with the recipient’s facial biometrics.
Our goal with this is to give agents an inexpensive solution that will protect their clients’ data as well as the transaction information. If all secure communications for a transaction come via TrustedMail, it’s easy for clients to flag a spoofed email and very difficult for scammers to get the transaction information they need to create the spoofed email in the first place.