7 February 2023 – UK tech company Zenoo has created a new ID verification platform called Freedom ID Check which is free to use for agencies that are connecting accommodation hosts with Ukrainian refugees.
Zenoo – whose clients include London Stock Exchange, Experian, Transunion and NASA - traditionally supplies digital onboarding and protection from financial crime for businesses but also has a significant not-for-profit wing that has utilised its technology and supply chain to protect individuals needing home help during COVID and deliver much-needed supplies to Ukrainian families during the ongoing conflict.
The latest project is to ensure Ukrainian refugees are protected from trafficking gangs through its Freedom ID Check platform.
While many of the accommodation agency websites set up in response to the war in Ukraine are grassroots initiatives created by developers with the best intentions, the lack of suitable ID verification has led to an influx of exploitative hosts registering. An investigation by the Observer recently revealed that the Home Office has been warned repeatedly by police that the vulnerable occupants of hotels housing refugees and particularly children would be targeted by criminal networks.
Data released under the Freedom of Information Act has also shown that newly arrived unaccompanied children spend an average of 16.5 days in Home Office hotels before being transferred into council care around the country.
Stuart Watkins, Zenoo CEO, said: “Times of mass migration as refugees flee war are prime territory for highly sophisticated criminal organisations to take advantage of vulnerable women and children.
“By verifying the identities of accommodation hosts we are reducing the risk of trafficking. On top of this, we know that millions of displaced refugees will move from one accommodation provider to another over the coming years, and this process of ID verification must continue in line with this.”
Watkins added: “This is only the beginning of the journey. It is a joint effort and we are genuinely humbled to be working with some of the world’s leading FinTech and RegTech providers to offer a solution to make the movement of people safer for volunteers and displaced refugees.”
In addition to Zenoo, the founding members of the Freedom ID consortium behind the platform include Seattle-based Vouched, a global leader in identity verification, KYC, and AML; VU Security, a cyber security company headquartered in Buenos Aires, Argentina; GBG, a global identity verification and fraud prevention company based in London; Shufti-Pro, a digital KYC and AML service provider also based in London; German-based Desko, a provider in ID document technologies, and other leaders in identity verification and management.
Additional pro bono services are provided by the international law firm Debevoise & Plimpton and global communications agency Montieth & Company, who are providing IT development services for the initial build, while The Seneca Trust provided Freedom ID with a donation for the initial start-up costs.
As Zenoo focuses on capturing user information, the other fintech partners provide identity verification solutions, enabling Freedom ID to conduct the necessary checks to prevent criminal activity.
Freedom ID Check uses the same technology leading financial institutions use to comply with anti-money laundering requirements and which border control agencies use to verify individuals. Ian Bearder, a software developer who set up Ukraine Shelter to help match refugees with accommodation and has been using the Freedom ID Check platform, said: “We launched Ukraine Shelter in the early days of the war to help friends and family find shelter in West Ukraine and Europe. We were overwhelmed with the response and support we received, but as we grew, we quickly understood the need to verify hosts and provide additional safety and security measures.
“Freedom ID Check integrates seamlessly with our sign-up process, so we didn't need to reinvent the wheel and our hosts are able to verify their ID and address details quickly and painlessly.
“We all have a responsibility to make hosting and our relief efforts as safe as possible and Zenoo are playing a vital role in this area.”
Zenoo specialises in the remote onboarding of customers for international companies to help them improve their conversion rates, breaking down barriers and making it easier for their customers to open accounts online.
As important as this central business is to Zenoo, we are equally committed to our not-for-profit work where we also use our skills and capabilities to help those in need, through initiatives such as Freedom Boxes, Huddle Puddle, and Freedom ID. By joining forces with our partners our aim is to create a safe and secure world for everyone. Visit www.freedom-id.com for further information.
For media enquiries and requests to interview Stuart Watkins please contact Bruce Ackland on +44 7884 076548 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors Freedom ID Check is part of Freedom Boxes which is sending essential items into war zones in Ukraine and collecting refugees at the Ukraine/Poland border to bring them to safety in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Switzerland. Freedom Boxes has been created by Zenoo CEO Stuart Watkins and his team to provide an immediate way for people to directly help those in need in Ukraine. Visit www.freedom-boxes.com to purchase a Freedom Bus ticket for someone fleeing Ukraine or choose from a range of Freedom Boxes tailor-made for families, children, and the heroes who have taken up arms to defend their country.
Children are also encouraged to show their support and upload their messages of hope at www.messagesofhope.uk – and these will be delivered directly to Ukrainian families via the Freedom Boxes.
About Freedom Boxes
We are a UK and Czech based software company and have been based in Central Europe for over two decades. Our company is formed of likeminded people from across the region including Russians and Ukrainians all of whom have pulled together to make this happen. It breaks our hearts to see the events unfolding in Ukraine. Along with our employees on the ground we have pulled together Freedom Boxes to deliver help and hope where it is most needed.