Behind the Idea: Enveil

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Enveil is a pioneering Privacy Enhancing Technology company changing the paradigm of how and where organisations can leverage data to unlock value. In today’s ever-shifting regulatory landscape, Enveil’s ZeroReveal solutions allow financial institutions to securely and privately share data across jurisdictions and between entities to facilitate real-time insights from disparate data sources — data that would be otherwise impossible to access in a business-relevant timeframe. The company’s Privacy Enhancing Technology-powered solutions enable organisations to collaborate to solve business challenges while prioritising privacy and compliance.    

In addition to being the Founder and CEO of Enveil, Ellison Anne Williams is a PhD Mathematician and advocate for the business-enabling power of Privacy Enhancing Technologies like homomorphic encryption.  

Ellison Anne Williams, Founder and CEO, Enveil

What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?

I often find that companies don’t particularly care about innovative technologies in and of themselves — they only care about how the technologies can uniquely solve their specific business problems. That’s one beautiful aspect of introducing innovations in Privacy Enhancing Technologies, or PETs, to regulated industries like financial services: they uniquely address a plethora of business pain points for the organisation. PETs – and particularly homomorphic encryption, a key pillar of the category – aren’t making existing processes better; they are making entirely new functionalities possible by allowing these businesses to securely utilise decentralized data in-place while respecting regulatory boundaries. For use cases such as Anti-Money Laundering and Fraud, banks want access to additional data sources because they can provide a more complete global operating picture, which ultimately allows them to make better, intelligence-led decisions.   

How has this changed over the past few years?

While the rise in global privacy demand and regulations has been positive for consumers, the new additional requirements, paired with regulatory inconsistencies across regions, have been challenging for businesses, especially those handling regulated data. But one thing is clear: regulations aren’t going away — the current landscape is very much the new normal. It is critical that businesses embrace technologies and solutions that can help them thrive within this environment, and ultimately design their systems so that they can adapt to additional changes as they occur.   

Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?

We are excited to be addressing real business challenges. For our team, it’s been exhilarating to deliver on the promise of the technology and show that PETs, and in particular homomorphic encryption, have truly left the realm of research and are ready for commercial use at scale. Data is a form of organisational currency and we know that helping companies find ways to securely and privately put it to use will ultimately help separate them from the competition. 

What fintech ideas have been implemented?

While the industry is just beginning to recognise the power of PETs to enable, enhance, and preserve the privacy of data throughout its lifecycle, we’re already seeing these solutions be put to use for a number of use cases today. Banks are using PETs to enable secure data sharing and collaboration for activities such as Know You Customer (KYC) and customer due diligence, as well as broader customer screening use cases. While homomorphic encryption can be used to enable secure collaboration across entities in a secure, decentralized manner, we’re most often seeing banks look to internal use cases such as cross-jurisdictional data sharing as a starting point for implementation. 

What benefits have these brought?

For banks, being able to access more data in a secure, privacy-preserving, and efficient manner means that they are able to make better, intelligence-led decisions in a business-relevant timeframe. Those additional data points and resulting insights are especially important when working to combat money laundering and fraud on a global scale. With PETs, they can prioritise customer privacy while still ensuring data is accessible when and where it needs to be.     

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?

Data privacy continues to be a cross-functional challenge that impacts many different areas of the business. In some ways, it’s fantastic to have more people aware of the problem, but it’s also challenging because it means there are typically many decision makers at the table. We’ve seen shifts in who is responsible for these activities within financial institutions over the past year — as well as who holds the budget to invest in solutions. And that variance in the decision-making process will likely continue for some time to come as the institutions capitalise on the digital economy. Each bank is handling data privacy and regulatory challenges in the way that works best for them, and as solution providers, our job is to find the pain points within the organisation and deliver technologies that make a difference. 

Can these challenges be aided by FinTech?

At the end of the day, it’s the results that matter. By enabling secure, decentralized data sharing and collaboration, PETs are delivering capabilities that can not otherwise occur in the current regulatory environment. As with all innovation, it may take some time for the technologies to find their place within financial institutions, but ultimately their value will overcome any organisational barriers to adoption.     

Final thoughts…

Privacy continues to be a focal point for businesses across industries, but especially for those like financial service organisations who regularly handle sensitive and regulated information. Technology is a key enabler, ensuring business goals can be achieved without sacrificing privacy and security. PETs are, and will continue to be, a foundational force behind these privacy solutions and we’re excited to lead this category as it further grows and solidifies in the years to come.  

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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