Jan. 7, 2020

Stephane Mathieu


Stephane Mathieu


“Based on the regulation issued between 2017 and 2018, many companies and fintechs are trying to develop safer solutions for enrollment processes.”


Stephane Mathieu has recently joined Grupo Salinas as CEO of DICIO. Prior to Grupo Salinas, he joined Citibanamex in July 2017 as the Head of Data and Analytics and IT Managing Director for Mexico. Before this, he served as AXA Seguros CTO and prior to that as ADAM Human Capital Management Latin America CTO and COO responsible. He has also worked as an information technology entrepreneur building his own information lifecycle management consulting and data capture software development company. With customers like Liverpool, Cisen and CFE this small startup grew from two to close to 100 employees. He has also held various management, architecture and consulting positions in some of the market-leading companies like Deloitte Mexico, EMC, Asea Brown Bovery (ABB), and Bombardier.

How do you intend to innovate identity security in Mexico and internationally?

Based on the regulation issued between 2017 and 2018, many companies and fintechs are trying to develop safer solutions for enrollment processes. However, currently there is little happening in terms of giving the end-user control of their own information, or security from identity theft, which is a big problem in Mexico. DICIO decided to offer a solution to enrollment processes that seem simple, but are highly regulated, and develop it as a best-of-breed. We are currently in the process of refining our own algorithm and in-house developments; our strategy is to position ourselves first in respect to opening bank accounts, though our technology can be applied to any other context. Today, in Mexico many institutions have major issues with frauds related to identity theft. The problem with today's token, digital, and cryptographic certificates is that once one stores the files on a device or system, the data is compromised. For example, the minute one stores a cryptographic key issued by Bitcoin on their cellphone, it is at risk of getting hacked. Even more so with non-encrypted personal information sitting in a bank or federal government database. We thus invented a platform that encrypts the whole cycle, including the communication channel one uses when signing up with a bank, along with the data, and the image of their face. For now, we are calling this a Crypto FaceKey. This is a game changer because by turning a person's image into a cryptographic key, it solves the problem of linking personal information with the physical person. The idea is to securely merge the real life of a person with their digital life to execute a transaction. We are linking their body to data and encrypting this data with a key that is generated from vectors and formula based on one's face. We use a computational neural network and data model to turn the vectors of one's face into a pair of asymmetric keys. The key is a three-page mathematical formula that is not stored anywhere. When you call it up it generates itself virtually, passes through the cellphone or computer and encrypts your personal data, and then you decide whether and what information to share with, for example, the bank.

What strategies is DICIO using to position itself in the market?

We are designing the DICIO's strategy and positioning it for the Mexican and global markets in 2019. We spent seven or eight months building a brand-new business case because our previous one was conceptual which is continuously reviewed and updated. If we could address the essentials of a person's identity in Mexico's challenging financial context, we could likely reproduce this anywhere in the world. The regulation in Mexico is probably the harshest and most taxing for banks and Fintechs. We decided to expand our services portfolio specific to the Mexican banking market. In an emerging economy, you need to identify a person to have any type of commercial business or government institution relationship. We apply this to a simple cycle in the banking industry, namely the opening of a low-level bank account through a bank portal or app. This type of bank account is called a Level 3 and 4 accounts. In Mexico, such processes are regulated by two governmental entities.

What are your main goals for 2020, and what further projects would you like to collaborate on?

We are completing the construction of the platform as we speak and hope to have our first application release by 1Q2020. This is meant to be an initial version with a Crypto FaceKey, but we are not set to realize everything at once. When it comes to the FaceKey each user will have a unique number. This is inspired by a project in India, where institutions use a generated number that acts as a container for all other official numbers one has as a citizen. This is the same concept we have opted to employ. In Mexico today, we have too many official numbers that do not make much sense and cause security concerns. For instance, the tax registry number (RFC) and national identification number (CURP) give away a great deal of personal information to third parties, such as one's gender, place of birth, age, and initials. Most developed countries like Canada, the US, Japan, and New Zealand have a mask random number for their citizens for this reason. That number does not mean anything without additional data, but it is enough to identify you.

How much effort has been spent in developing this software in terms of time and money?

To build this, we are collaborating with US machine learning and AI company established by a prestigious mathematician and teacher at The University of Maryland, Baltimore. The first phase of the project involves a significant investment of which we spent to build our server-side components. We are working with the AI company to develop everything required at the back-end. The formula is being turned into code using the Python programming language. And meanwhile, for the front-end we have a local team developing a cellphone app for Android and iOS.