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50 Leading Companies of the Year 2018

An Interview with E. Jay Saunders, Domus Semo Sancus, Chairman and CEO: ‘Our Motto is to Make Lives Better’

thesiliconreview-e-jay-saunders-chairman-ceo-domus-semo-sancus-18“Our sustained focus on marketing has put us on the radars of many companies that previously would not have given us a second thought. This has led to a surge in sales.”

As the presence of fintech in various industries keeps growing, its impact on some industries is getting harder to ignore. Financial services in particular have benefited a lot from the integration of various modern financial technologies in their work, and we’re likely only seeing the tip of the iceberg, with more coming up not too far on the horizon.

In light of the above-mentioned scenario, we’re thrilled to present Domus Semo Sancus (DSS).

DSS is a financial technology company that is building tools to encourage financial inclusion and bridge the e-commerce divide.

The company was incorporated in 2014 and is headquartered in New York.

E.Jay Saunders, Domus Semo Sancus Chairman/CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

EJS: DSS was initially setup to develop a digital wallet, targeting primarily the unbanked and under-banked. Our digital wallet, which we named Wowlet, will be more affordable and convenient, with a lower cost and risk than cash-based transactions, while meeting the regulatory requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – the inter-governmental body that sets the standards to combat threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

However, before we can launch Wowlet, it needs to meet the FATF recommendations around KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering), and it needs to do so on a global level. To ensure that Wowlet can meet the FTAF recommendations, we’ve built an underlying compliance engine called SafetyNet, which utilizes artificial intelligence and cognitive computing technologies from IBM Watson, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, to perform enhanced due diligence checks on subjects-of-interests the way human experts do, but at much faster speeds. SafetyNet performs ‘deep dives’ into data found on the surface, deep, and dark web, at speeds of hundreds of millions of pages per second.

The market for KYC and AML tools is approximately US$26 Billion per year, and to help other businesses with their compliance needs, we’ve made SafetyNet commercially available as a cloud-based Compliance-As-A-Service utility. We’ve also created an enhanced version of SafetyNet, specifically for law enforcement, called SafetyNet Safe City.

When Wowlet is launched in Q4 2019, we will have two major products on the market, although SafetyNet Safe City can probably be considered as its own distinct product.

How successful was your first project roll on? Share the experience.

EJS: When we started DSS in November 2014, I expected that Wowlet would be our first product, but if needed, we could commercialize SafetyNet to help underwrite Wowlet’s development and operational costs. My expectation was that SafetyNet could be commercially ready by April 2015 – i.e. within 6 months.

In actuality, SafetyNet was only ready for beta customers in September 2015, and it was not until January 2016, that we had a product that we could go live with. Unfortunately, although we had a solid product, backed by a good customer experience, our datasets were growing faster than our hardware could support them. We had to double our hardware capacity on three separate occasions and switch database technologies on two occasions throughout 2016.

In January 2017, after just missing out on closing out on a multi-year, multimillion-dollar contract, we decided to: a) take on a thought leadership role on the major issues affecting the industry – especially financial inclusion, b) significantly increase our marketing budget, and c) introduce multiple versions of SafetyNet to cater to different segments of the market. With increased marketing dollars, we sponsored key conferences, and we got high-end marketing materials produced. We rolled out a lite version of SafetyNet as well as an enterprise version, which allowed us to go after the high-end of the market, while also growing revenues among a segment of the market that’s more price conscious than brand conscious.

By late 2017, we started winning awards, which led to increased sales. We’re closing out 2018 with strong sales growth, and we expect that to continue throughout 2019.

If you have to list five factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be and why?

Clear Vision – We started DSS to ‘Make Lives Better’, specifically to help bank the unbanked and under-banked. Our dedication to that vision ensures that we focus our resources on the one or two things that we do very well.

Talented and dedicated staff – Our team is very small, and everyone is the expert in their area. Everyone shows up and does their job. They know the value in working as efficiently as possible, and if cost cutting is needed, they always find a way to ensure that the business is not negatively affected.

Industry Knowledge – The industry that our customers operate in is highly regulated, and if our products don’t perform as advertised, our customers can get fined. To ensure that doesn’t happen, we invest heavily in ensuring that our staff members are Thought Leaders and Subject Matter Experts in the industry.

Great Partnerships – While we would love to have all the Thought Leaders and Subject Matter Experts working for DSS, we do not. To address any gaps, we have partnered with several seasoned industry professionals to ensure that our products and services are always best-in-class.

Strong Marketing – Our sustained focus on marketing has put us on the radars of many companies that previously would not have given us a second thought. This has led to a surge in sales.

What are the factors that make your company stand out from the competition?

EJS: We have some of the largest datasets in the industry, and they’re growing at a faster rate than those of our competitors. In addition, our artificial intelligent KYC and AML compliance engine is the most advanced in the industry.

Do you have any new products ready to be launched?

EJS: We’re introducing several advanced features within SafetyNet in H1 of 2019, and we will also be rolling out Wowlet in Q4 of the same year.

Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

EJS: Once we roll out Wowlet, we expect that it will quickly become our main product and drive the bulk of our revenues. Wowlet is expected to transform us from the B2B company that we are today, into a B2C one. In order to address the increase in customers, we will increase our staff size as well as our global footprint.

E. Jay Saunders: A Brief Background

E. Jay Saunders is the Chairman and CEO of Domus Semo Sancus. E. Jay has written numerous articles and presentations on technology and telecommunications. He is currently the Chairman of the Turks & Caicos Islands Civil Aviation Authority (TCICAA) – the statutory body responsible for aviation regulatory oversight – and a Director of the Pine Cay Project – a non-profit organization that has donated over US$1M to promote high academic achievement.

His media company, The Clermont Group (located in Miami), recently created its first original travel TV show, Geochic TV, with episode 1 (covering Cape Town, South Africa).

E. Jay studied Computer Science and Information Processing degree at Brock University, and he is a proud graduate of Trinity College School.

“We have some of the largest datasets, and they’re growing by tens of thousands of records every day. In addition, our artificial intelligent KYC and AML compliance engine is one of the most advanced in the industry.”