Who are W2?

From ‘one-man-band’ operations right up to international corporations, W2 could be the go-to guys for regulatory and risk-management requirements.

W2 Global Data Solutions Ltd (W2) has been trading since 2011 and has rapidly grown into a trusted provider of SaaS, B2B software solutions and data services.  W2’s suite of KYC, Age verification, anti-fraud and AML [Anti Money Laundering] solutions helps gaming operators meet their regulatory and risk management requirements. Currently, over 100 organisations world-wide rely on data and services provided by W2.

Operating since 2011 W2 has created a SaaS platform that aggregates data and services which would typically be reserved for larger corporates. This has meant that there are no longer commercial barriers for any regulated business in meeting their compliance obligations. W2 provides platforms suitable for ‘one-man-band’ operators (IFAs or accountants for example) performing a handful of verifications per annum, all the way through to tier-one, international corporations carrying out hundreds or thousands of verifications per day. Gone are the days of not being able to find a platform suitable for your business size, model and structure.

W2 chairman, David Hunter, explains: “The ultimate aim of W2 is to reduce the three F’s. Organisations have to look at ways to simplify the customer on-boarding process while remaining compliant in a tightly regulated world, and as casino’s come under 4MLD [the 4th EU Anti Money Laundering directive] we will only see that need increase.

“In my experience businesses are always battling with Fraud, Friction and Fees. Any one of these can be tackled, but it’s usually at the expense of the other two. Reduce fees and often fraud and friction increases; reduce friction and fees and fraud inevitably rise; this is the never-ending battle that you face.”

As a relatively new entrant to the market, W2 has taken a strategic approach to the sectors in which it currently operates. With an active network of partner organisations consuming the data W2 has aggregated (or white-labelling W2 software platform) they are possibly the biggest KYC, AML and Anti-Fraud provider that you’ve never heard of!

With its head office in the Cardiff Business and Technology Centre, and a further research and development team based in Bristol, W2 is well-placed to capitalise on the rich and as yet largely untapped vein of talent across these areas.

The current CEO, Warren Russell, founded the company four years ago and has been responsible for the company’s progression to date. Warren has over 14 years’ experience in working within the Financial Service Sector, working within banking brands such as Cheltenham & Gloucester and subsidiaries of both Morgan Stanley and HSBC. Warren has also worked within service suppliers to these industries and thus gained extensive expertise in AML, Anti-fraud, CTF (Counter Terrorism Financing), Loss Prevention, Regulation and Compliance.

In April 2015 David Hunter was appointed W2 Chairman to help further develop and drive the strategy and direction of the business. David has significant experience in the online payments sector, developed over a successful 12-year period leading businesses such as BT ePayments, ClickandBuy, Prepaid Services Company, and most recently Ukash.

The growth David orchestrated while CEO of Ukash saw recognition in the form of four consecutive Queen’s Award for Enterprise and three consecutive Sunday Times TechTrack100 listings. In 2013 Ukash was named by the London Stock Exchange Group as one of the 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain.

In March 2015, after the successful sale of Ukash to CVC Partners, David stepped down to pursue non-executive and advisory roles with payment-related early-stage businesses. He is now active on five boards and is leading the creation of Europe’s first “payments focus” start-up incubator on behalf of the Emerging Payments Association.

How do W2 do it?

W2’s CCO, Martin Pashley, explains: “We provide a range of SaaS-driven screening tools and services to help our customers make quick, informed decisions about the people and organisations they are interacting with.

“The solutions and associated services that we have developed enable organisations to achieve regulatory compliance in relation to KYC and AML due diligence while also combatting fraud and allowing a frictionless customer experience. We can further enhance this by perpetual on-going monitoring of entire client, staff and supplier databases.”

To do this W2 have worked with, or partnered with, some of the world’s largest data and service providers to ensure their customers get easy, real-time access to reliable, up to date information. Just some of these suppliers include: Dow Jones, Experian, Veridu, Jumio, Lexis Nexis, Bureau Van Dijk, Companies House and Creditsafe, and this allows W2 to extend coverage to both consumer and corporate entities through UK domestic and international markets.

W2 CEO and founder, Warren Russell, says: “For the last four years we have been working on a unique proposition to simplify how organisations conduct due diligence on individuals, organisations, suppliers, staff, tenants and employees. The methods we saw employed across these disparate markets are in essence the same, just with the utilisation of different data and processes.

“All too often we saw companies managing multiple technical integrations, multiple commercial contracts and multiple data mapping formats. This led to an over complicated infrastructure often coupled with high-level commitments across many suppliers to ensure a commercially viable model. Our solutions require minimal implementation and as such our market edge comes from our breadth of data as well as the flexible integration and commercial models that we operate. No longer will you be forced to accept the way a chosen provider offers their content; now you have the choice to fit their product around yours, not the other way round.”

The W2 proposition centres on its proprietary model ‘Staged Search Manager’ (SSM) which allows users to design their own processes and consume the services in the order that make most commercial and economic sense to them. With the ability to take multiple similar feeds, businesses can enjoy supplier redundancy failover, access to ‘best in class’ data, and manage all of this through a single commercial contract. If preferred, customers can continue to enjoy the direct commercial relationship they have with their current, individual suppliers.

Coming up

Having recently closed its first round of institutional investment, corner stoned by Finance Wales, W2 is looking to expand its footprint out across new geographies and further enhance its proposition by adding additional services into its platforms.

The next 6-12 months W2 expects further enhancements such as:

  • Email based verification
  • Telecoms driven verification
  • 12 additional countries for e-KYC
  • Addition of further vendors to make W2 truly, ‘supplier-agnostic’ and add further resilience
  • Delivery of a completely stand-alone environment to not only provide supplier resilience but also complete technical resilience, all but removing the possibility of service ‘down-time’

W2 uses a requirement-driven schedule to ensure resource is appropriately directed to ensure maximum delivery on service critical elements. The roadmap contains a degree of flexibility which allows W2 to react appropriately to customer requirements and expectations while maintaining its own forward momentum on delivery plans.