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50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2019

Imad Malhas, IrisGuard UK Ltd Founder and CEO: ‘We’re the World Leader in Iris Recognition Technology’


“Our patented technology leads the way with disruptive and state-of-the-art innovations which provide financial inclusion for vulnerable populations.”

When implementing biometrics systems there are a number of factors that need to be considered. Operational purposes determine which systems are appropriate. A key consideration is speed and accuracy of the recognition which can be affected by the environment where the system operates. Other considerations are the acceptability of the system by the data subjects and how easily the system can be fooled using fraudulent methods.

In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present IrisGuard UK Ltd.

IrisGuard is the world’s leading supplier of novel end-to-end iris recognition biometric technology that authenticates identity for secure financial delivery payments and large-scale humanitarian deployments.

Driving disruptive and state-of-the-art innovations that provide financial inclusion for vulnerable populations, IrisGuard is an established and trusted solutions provider for international agencies including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP) and many national governments and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) around the world.

IrisGuard’s pioneering and patented technology is implemented in a number of innovative applications designed to deliver card-less cash withdrawals on ATMs, Blockchain transfers, microfinance, remittances
and supermarket food voucher replacements.

The company was incorporated in 2001 and is headquartered in Milton Keynes, UK, and has an office located in Amman, Jordan.

Imad Malhas, IrisGuard UK Ltd Founder/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?

When we set up the company 18 years ago, our mission was to be the guardian of secure iris recognition to pioneer homeland security and border control.

Over the past several years, our focus has shifted from simply authenticating identity for security reasons. We’ve spearheaded the development of the technology, designing and manufacturing innovative and world-leading iris recognition cameras, software and payment platforms that have processed trillions of iris cross-comparisons faultlessly, with a zero percent error rate.

What challenges did you face in your initial years?

One of the early challenges that we overcame was the misconception around iris technology, from safety to speed and accuracy. We’ve always been happy to talk about all of those questions and design products that overcome them. Today, thanks to our efforts the process is completely safe, non-intrusive, doesn’t use lasers or harmful rays and is foolproof. Whether someone is wearing contact lenses, glasses or has had an eye surgery, or uses pupil dilation drops; the iris does not get affected by the environment (protected behind the cornea) nor does it change with age, it remains unique to each person for the duration of their life. We have proven 100 percent accuracy with hundreds of millions of financial transactions (cash payments, food purchases etc…) using iris records processed with zero errors.

“Earning trust and respect of consumers all around the world is through consistent focus on delivering high quality in all of our actions.” How do you interpret this statement?

We have always believed and practiced the belief that we cannot compromise on two things: quality and customer service. We have invested heavily in research and development of new products and secured numerous ground-breaking patents to ensure our leading position in iris image capture. At the same time, customer service has always been our passion; to fuse with customer objectives and make them ours, to ensure we use our innovative approaches to suggest solutions, platforms and creative ways to address their pain. We have always chosen to go the extra mile to ensure total customer satisfaction.

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

We constantly think outside the box. We think of ways to create new solutions and have proven this by becoming trusted partners of organisations such as the UNHCR and the WFP simply because they have full confidence in the accuracy and reliability in our products. Our employees are empowered to think of the best ways to serve their customers and to engage in innovative sessions related to their needs. We make the distance between field employees and designers very short by allowing access and conducting sessions. More importantly, we encourage designers and programmers to spend time with customers in the field along with project managers and technical support.

Moreover, our patented technology leads the way with disruptive and state-of-the-art innovations which provide financial inclusion for vulnerable populations. We are able to find one person from millions of people using only the iris (no card/pin, no username/password, no phone etc.) in real time (under three seconds) and when this is applied innovatively it solves tremendously hard problems.

How often do you innovate? Is it only when there is a need in the market?

If a company innovates-on-demand, it will perish! Innovation is like a river, for it to thrive and benefit more people, it must flow. At IrisGuard, innovation is a continuous state-of-mind for every employee; the status-quo is challenged on a daily basis and everyone is encouraged to think of new ways to perform a function.

How does your company contribute to the competitive global IT platform at large?

IrisGuard is the world leader in iris recognition technology. We were the first to prove iris recognition accuracy in large scale scientific studies; the first to deploy the technology at border control (2001), the first to deploy it on ATM machines (2008), the first to deploy in supermarkets (2015), the first to deploy it with the Blockchain (2017); and the first to deploy it on the cloud. IrisGuard wrote the book on iris recognition and we are attributed to its global success, today.

Do you have any new products ready to be launched?

We pride ourselves on integrating our technology with the most innovative payment solutions available. We see opportunities for EyePay® in a number of sectors, the traditional banking model, blockchain, in social welfare and aid, as well as remittances and personal cash transfers. We are actively seeking to do that in a number of regions around the world with an even bigger focus on further developing the mobile platform.

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

IrisGuard will be leading the world of financial inclusion by ensuring accurate, easy and dignified financial inclusion for hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Imad Malhas: A Formidable Leader

Imad Malhas, Co-founder, serves as CEO of IrisGuard UK Ltd. He pioneered the concept of using iris recognition to secure mass-transit across national borders and the large-scale cross-country registration of millions of UNHCR refugees in the Middle East. In 2008, he led IrisGuard’s deployment of iris-enabled ATM machines, the world’s first, which to date has processed over half a billion dollars in cash without a card or pin.

In 2013, Imad launched the development of the EyePay® secure payment delivery platform, the world’s first iris-enabled retail POS that has been adopted by the United Nations through the WFP in several supermarkets in refugee camps across Jordan. Imad spearheaded the innovative EyePay® Common Cash Facility solution which serves the UNHCR and participating NGOs as a trusted instrument of providing a dignified financial inclusion solution to vulnerable and unbanked populations – without which they could not subsist.

With a mission of empowering financial inclusion in the blink of an eye, Imad is actively engaged in the development of IrisGuard’s first mobile Android platform to serve one-third of the world’s global population (2.5 billion unbanked) with the state-of-the-art KYC compliance and all-inclusive Android applications that touch all facets of their lives.                                                                                                      

Imad is the co-inventor on many international patents, an Endeavor Entrepreneur since 2009; and in 2018 he was awarded the “CEO Today” Europe Award.

"IrisGuard is the world’s leading supplier of novel end-to-end iris recognition biometric technology that authenticates an individual’s identity for payments and large-scale humanitarian deployments."