Look Inside IrisGuard with Mahmoud Sahmoud

This week we have spoken to Mahmoud Sahmoud about his journey with IrisGuard

I joined IrisGuard in 2009 and it was through a friend of mine who worked for IrisGuard, decided to relocate and was good enough to mention this opportunity to me. I’ve taken on a number of different roles and right now, I am the Head of Architecture and Solutions within the Sales Department. We make sure that our solutions are aligned with both, our business strategy and the needs of our customers.

You and your team are the link between the company’s vision which is financial inclusion for all unbanked and the frontline of some of the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis. What would you say the main challenges are today for creating interoperable systems?

It mostly tends to be about overcoming the barriers, which come with implementing a ‘new’ solution. We are all used to working with existing systems or doing our jobs in certain ways and can be afraid of change, afraid to invest time and effort into building brand new systems. At IrisGuard, we bring a new way of running a business and innovative alternatives to the traditional models of banks, cards and wallets. So, the challenge for us is to find more opportunities and partners who are open minded, willing to adopt a different approach and embrace new ideas because they believe in the benefits new technologies will deliver for them.

What would you say are the biggest advantages we bring to our partners?

Since day one of us working in the financial/banking sector, we’ve brought in a streamlined identity across different channels. If you go to a bank, you need to provide a bank account number and signature to the teller, at the ATM you need to provide a PIN code, on the internet you need to provide your username and password. When you go to an UN agency, you need to provide an identifier. When receiving healthcare, you need to provide a card.

We offer one digital identity which can be utilized again and again in order to receive a number of different services via different platforms. From withdrawing cash at the ATM, purchasing groceries at a supermarket, to receiving assistance and getting medical care.

IrisGuard celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, what are the most memorable moments for you on your journey with us?

Throughout my twelve years with IrisGuard, I have been privileged to be part of a fantastic team of people and together, we have led many world’s firsts, including the first database which was moved offsite to Azzure on the Cloud.

We also integrated with Building Blocks and processed our first aid transfer transaction on the Blockchain using just the iris to verify and authorise the whole process, completely removing the need for a crypto key. Blockchain used to be something for the highly educated but thanks to the skills and expertise of my colleagues at IrisGuard, this technology is now used by refugees.

Another achievement of ours, which I am proud of was working one of our largest and rapid deployments to integrate our hardware and software in the banking sector. We’d set out to install and start operating 800 cameras in two months. It was fast, we did the job well and it was a huge success not just for us but for our customers.

Approximately 11 years ago, the Operations team installed the first of our cameras at an outdoor ATM to start serving millions of vulnerable people, it is a moment I’ll never forget.

In 2019, we developed our EyePay® Phone, the first mobile phone able to transact with millions of beneficiaries using mobile wallets and other direct cash-out payments and utilising only the iris.

Fast forward to now, we are excited to work on the development of the EyePay® Network, which will be the world’s first aid payment network powered by our iris recognition technology.

When I first met with Imad who is our CEO and Co-Founder of IrisGuard I have to admit, at first it sounded like science fiction. But the reality is, you can’t have all these world’s firsts and what we’ve achieved at any other company. We aren’t the largest or the most selling business in the world, however Imad wants all of us to be proud of what we do because we know we are positively impacting peoples’ lives. When you go to a refugee camp and you see how fast people can now get their food to feed their families, literally just in a blink of an eye, we go home and we feel very good about the things we did that day and every day.