When you think of cutting-edge technology, the age-old, bureaucratic necessity of document notarization probably doesn’t immediately spring to mind. However, NotaryCam is helping to bring document notarization into the digital age by offering customers the opportunity to have documents signed and notarized securely and in real-time – anywhere in the world. We had the chance to sit down with NotaryCam founder Rick Triola and learn about the origin of NotaryCam and his plans for the future of the company.
EQ: Can you give us a brief overview of NotaryCam and a little bit on the history of the service?
Triola: NotaryCam is the first global online notarization platform. My prior concentration focused on delivering a complete paperless and electronic real estate/mortgage transaction, from which we came to understand the notary as the integral trusted party in every single transaction (on average approximately eight notarizations per transaction to close.) Fast forward to July 1, 2012, when Virginia passed legislation for a remote video conference notarization, it allowed us to leapfrog over the lack of national notary standards. A certified e-notary in Virginia is now capable, through our secure platform, to notarize documents regardless of where the signer is, anytime and from anywhere.
EQ: When was the company founded in its current form?
Triola: We started to offer service in the fall of 2012, full production in May 2013.
EQ: How exactly does the product work and how much does it cost?
Triola: The number one crime in America is identity fraud, which we are stopping before it occurs. The role of the professional notary is to verify personal ID and witness a signing. With NotaryCam, all parties meet in our virtual 'closing' room—no software or downloads required—customers just need to have access to the internet and a webcam. What distinguishes NotaryCam from current conventional processes is that we provide our notaries with the most sophisticated identity verification tools to satisfactorily prove authentication. We record the session, both audio and visual, and store the entire session as digital evidence for a period of five years.
You might have read the headlines about robo-signing over the last couple of years, which basically collapsed the economy. With those fraudulent transactions, no one ever appeared in front of the notaries. Notary stamps were left on large tables in an office and anybody who wanted a document notarized just went in, took a stamp, stamped it and forged signatures in order to move the transaction forward. Through NotaryCam, that fraudulent activity is not possible. Everyone must appear, the notary and the signor are actually looking at and talking to each other and the cameras are recording the transaction.
NotaryCam is the only solution that stops fraud BEFORE it occurs.
EQ: What is the dollar volume of this market? How much do people spend on getting documents notarized each year?
Triola: It's a very large addressable market. This is a little surprising to most people when they hear it, but according to the U.S. Notary Association, there are actually 1 billion transactions that get notarized in the United States every year. Prices vary across state lines and by types of transactions. For instance, most real estate and mortgage transactions are completed by mobile notary signer agents with an average cost of $150/transaction.
|Rick Triola, Founder of NotaryCam|
EQ: Do you have your own network of notaries?
Triola: Currently, we have service line notaries who are independent contractors. There’s a couple of certifications necessary when going through the processes. One, they must validate their own identity to receive their personally protected digital credentials in order to tamper seal notarized documents to guard against fraudulent document manipulation once it leaves the notary. Our notaries also need to be certified and vetted by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and then attend our extensive NotaryCam Academy, where we ensure an even higher level of security and certification before a notary is registered to go on our platform.
EQ: Do you ever imagine having a platform where you can just have a notary sign up? Perhaps a form of automated quality control and verification process, similar to the way that some content platforms work, where you can have editors sign up and then it's a hands off process for the company?
Triola: We understand the notary business pretty well and, although there are a lot of notary entrepreneurs, it's typically a part time business–a spare time profession. We’re obviously elevating the profession, increasing the professional standards and protecting our notaries by arming them with the highest level identity tools, support and long term solid evidence to defend themselves.
Currently, we're sourcing and handing off the customers directly to our notaries. We’re bringing them business. It’s kind of like the Uber, where drivers who are waiting for customers on platform for a chance to make some extra money with part time work, and riders waiting for somebody to come pick them up-eliminating the friction to try to find driver on their own. That’s kind of where the model is right now, but we have the additional assurance that we vet and further train our notaries before they are able to get on our platform. In the future, we can also envision our notaries to go out and drive their own business deploying our secure platform.
EQ: That's a good comparison: you're the Uber of Notaries. What are you doing to get people aware that your service exists?
Triola: That's both the opportunity and challenge at the same time. What we hear regularly from our customers is, “Wow, I didn’t even know this was even possible.” So, heightening awareness is on the top of our list.
If you've had a chance to read our testimonials, our customers absolutely love the service. When they're heading out for the holidays or to a Super Bowl party, the good news is getting out through word of mouth. We’re also strategically partnering with enterprise clients seeking to close transactions in real time while enhancing the overall experience and the convenience for their customers to transact when they want. We are also in a number of Mortgage e-Closing pilots across the nation as NotaryCam is perfectly positioned as the only patented virtual closing room - where all parties meet and close their transaction online-anytime.
EQ: What are some advantages that provides you an edge over your competitors in this space?
Triola: One advantage we have is that our team has been pioneering - we processed our very first e-signed electronic notarization years ago - so we understand what works and what doesn't. We came from the real estate and the escrow settlement side of the business and have a deep understanding of the friction within the marketplace and extensive eco system.
We know the guidelines, the tamper sealing of documents and the security around that. A lot of people think this is relatively simple: “I’ll Skype, go to meeting, and go to work.” That’s not the case. What’s going on underneath the hood is a lot of authentication and security meeting state and federal statutes.
EQ: Can you tell us more about your background and a few of the key members of your team?
Triola: I actually cut my teeth on Wall Street as an investment banker. However, for most of my adult life, I’ve been in the real estate space, primarily as a commercial syndicator, broker, manager - buying and selling commercial properties, apartment buildings, shopping centers and the like. In the late 90's I jumped into the escrow settlement side of things-framing many of my most memorable 'aha' moments.
As far as our team, the majority of us have been working together for many years pioneering many nationwide 'e' initiatives. We recently added a former CFO from private equity and the escrow settlement side of the real estate business to head up finance and strategy. We're really excited to have Hong MoYang (ex-McKinsey, ex-Samsung executive and a software entrepreneur) join our board of directors - all complementing a remarkable and fast growing team of professional notaries..
EQ: Recently, you announced a partnership with One Hour Translation. What are some other milestones over the next 12 to 18 months that you're looking for in terms of exciting announcements?
Triola: We're just about ready to launch our 2.0 version. The first version was primarily focused on delivering the best overall customer experience during our initial launch. This next version allows us to meet customers in real time, close transactions in a matter of minutes and scale to thousands of notaries. You will also be seeing the release of our first mobile app - really exciting for us. In addition, we recently launched NotaryCam Academy - a more formal way for us to recruit the best of breed renowned notary trainers, training our professional notaries on how to best serve our customers with the care that they deserve - each and every notarization.
EQ: NotaryCam also had a CrowdFunder campaign that seemed pretty successful. Can you talk about that experience? Did it help you achieve what you wanted to achieve?
Triola:We had a private offering that was oversubscribed. Then our legal counsel Nimish Patel at Richardson Patel suggested we consider an opportunity for us to participate in CrowdFunder to heighten the awareness and get the word out to some highly networked and visible individuals. It has worked out well, as we have come to a deal with Barbara Corcoran Venture Partners among other great investors at CrowdFunder.
EQ: You've done a great job giving us a comprehensive overview of the company. Is there anything we missed, or your final takeaways that you want to leave for our readers?
Triola: I appreciate that. As far as NotaryCam, we're beyond the hypothesis/validation stage, and it's just a matter of letting consumers and industry executives know that a professional notary is at your fingertips - anytime and from anywhere. This access can be in the flow of your business process - real time so there is no need to take documents off-line in order to get notarized. Finally, we're very excited that we're not only serving as a valuable deterrent but we've actually stopped fraud before the damage was done. NotaryCam has removed all the associated friction and offers a simple, quick e-commerce solution with absolute confidence that you are doing business with the people they’re actually claiming to be.
EQ: It's very impressive what you guys have done. You’ve basically taken an antiquated system and not only made it more efficient but also improved on its original purpose, which is security and verification. Cheers to you guys. Keep up the good work.
Triola: I appreciate the opportunity. It’s an ancient profession dating back to Cicero - we're just providing tomorrow’s tools today to maintain the integrity and security around the third party verification and notarization for the benefit of all parties.
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