The smartest kids in Latvia building authentication startup

By Guest Author | Latvia | January 10, 2018

This story, written by Marija Odineca, was first published in CoFounder No 10.

Notakey is a smartphone-based solution for strong and smooth authentication and authorisation. They provide a viable alternative to cumbersome hardware solutions, while also complying with the new EU PSD2 directive. Notakey offers a money-back guarantee if you don’t see increased employee productivity and customer engagement.

Every digital payment processor is caught between regulators, who set strict security requirements, and customers, who want fast and seamless mobile transactions. Some opt for printed code cards, some provide physical code calculators, some send authentication codes via SMS. Notakey promises to eliminate the need to choose between security and convenience. The team promises to take all the effort away from the user and leave it to the technology. Instead of retyping codes, each person can sign requests with their digital signature.

Notakey was founded in 2015 by Janis Graubins, who has a background in finance and marketing, and brothers Gints Kirsteins and Janis Kirsteins, who developed Latvian State ID Card and electronic signature architecture.

Ernests Jenavs, founder of EdTech startup Edurio, put together the Kirsteins brothers and Graubins, who was then a business developer at London-based Innovation agency, Unit9. “He introduced them as the smartest programmers from Latvia, who were building an incredible product for banks and would need someone to help with the business side. I thought that if Ernests, who previously worked at McKinsey says they are the smartest, they must be really great,” Graubins remembers. “I had a chat with them on Skype and after it decided to quit my job and move back to Latvia to join them. I was blown away by what they had achieved and felt that we were on the same page on what we wanted to achieve and how. In a way it was a blind marriage but has turned out really great,” he says.

The company is one of the few Latvian companies who has ever received a Horizon 2020 grant in Latvia. Their clients include Latvian Mobile Telephone, Pauls Stradins Hospital and they have been awarded joint Proof-of-Concept with Swisscom, UBS and Credit Suisse. Out of that company they further developed their product to provide video identification and Know Your Customer (KYC) data exchange between companies. N-VideoID lets you onboard and identifies users via video calls. With the increasingly global nature of work and business, video authentication is perfect for regulated use-cases when a bank would typically require the client to show up in person, such as opening bank accounts, issuing digital signatures and signing legally binding agreements. Once the user is identified, the identity can then be re-used by other companies to decrease friction even further.

To ensure easy and secure access to all employees, Notakey offers a 2-factor authentication system for internal Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that can be shared with remote employees, contractors and partners. Their multi-factor security system can be integrated with Windows terminal servers and workstations, while their N-SSO product lets users eliminate passwords and access issues altogether, creating a single-sign-on identity for all applications