Twilio expedites KYB decisions while complying with regional regulations via a flexible and centralized system of record

Learn how Twilio built a customized and more scalable KYB and KYC process with Persona.

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Twilio is the customer engagement platform that drives real-time, personalized experiences for today’s leading brands by enabling users to build communication features and capabilities like voice, text, chat, video, and email into their applications using its data platform and communication APIs. Its mission is to unlock the imagination of builders by offering simple tools that solve hard problems.

Problem: Twilio’s KYB process was resource-intensive and unscalable

Twilio must comply with Telco regulations which require it to verify businesses and individuals who use its services. “Because we route communications between carriers and customers, there’s a responsibility for us to know who is originating the traffic and who is responsible for sending messages and phone calls to end customers,” explains Christina Sung, Twilio’s Vice President of Product Management.

However, as Twilio supports more than 180 countries and territories, complying with regulations around the world is no small feat. “Given all the spam and phishing consumers have been subject to, there’s been a lot of scrutiny over CPaaS providers doing their job in knowing who their customers are and making sure that we prevent bad actors from blasting text messages to everyone,” explains Christina. “Twilio is the largest CPaaS provider in the world, so KYC is a global scale challenge.”

Before Persona, Twilio’s verification process was operationally intensive — requiring its team to look at submitted information, check databases, and follow up as necessary. “We have hundreds of operational employees whose jobs are to try to confirm the information submitted,” explains BJ Choi, one of the architects in Twilio’s trust and compliance group.

Not only was this inefficient, but it also wasn’t ideal for customers, who sometimes had to wait longer than they’d like to find out the status of their application. “We had a backlog of customers waiting for their profiles to be approved,” Christina shares.

This was especially problematic for Christina, as compliance isn’t her only goal. “I lead our onboarding and compliance pillar for product, which means I’m [not only] responsible for global Telco compliance, but also how we can onboard customers to the Twilio platform compliantly and seamlessly.”

When Christina took over her current role, she knew Twilio’s verification process wasn't sustainable as it continued to scale its operations globally. Noting that “we needed to uplevel our compliance posture,” she set out to re-envision Twilio’s identity program and find a solution “that could streamline processes to invest in the future and remove the burden from our ops team.”

With Persona, we went live from concept to production in less than 6 months, which is almost unheard of given the complexities involved.
BJ Choi
Architect at Twilio

Solution: Twilio partners with Persona to build a customized and more scalable KYB and KYC process

As Twilio began its search, one of its biggest drivers was speed to launch. “How do we add intelligent automation more quickly to support the typical human-based workflow without jeopardizing our compliance bar?” says Christina. “With Persona, we went live from concept to production in less than 6 months, which is almost unheard of given the complexities involved,” BJ adds.

Knowing that the financial industry has been doing KYC/KYB for many years, the team decided to see who prominent fintech companies partner with for their identity needs. After evaluating multiple solutions, Twilio ultimately chose Persona for the following reasons:

Technical maturity and platform approach

As a product and engineering-focused company, Twilio prefers to partner with similarly-minded vendors — and Persona fit the bill.

“The thing that differentiated Persona from other solutions was their technology stack — specifically their tooling,” says Christina. “There are many vendors that have business profile APIs, but it was really the technology and the software, e.g., Workflows and the portable UI,  that we found to be very much in line with our own DNA. Additionally, Persona’s API-forward approach makes it easy for us to tap into other APIs and facilitate integration with existing workflows — it’s very flexible.”

Persona’s technical sophistication was especially appealing to BJ, who spends a lot of time in the platform building. “I liked Persona’s technical maturity and the simplicity of embedding. It’s very well designed and melds very well with Twilio’s focus on technology,” he explains. “The custom logic and sophisticated branching also signaled that we could get pretty fancy with this.”

Another strength that caught Twilio’s attention: Persona’s platform approach, which allows businesses to build their ideal identity program by integrating Persona’s various tools with their own systems. “Twilio is an API-forward build platform, and Persona is also a build platform that gives us tools we can leverage and embed into our processes and products. That’s what won us over,” says Christina.

The thing that differentiated Persona from other solutions was their technology stack — specifically their tooling. There are many vendors that have business profile APIs, but it was really the technology and the software, e.g., Workflows and the portable UI, that we found to be very much in line with our own DNA.
Christina Sung
VP of Product Management at Twilio

Identity orchestration to meet global compliance standards

While technical sophistication was what set Persona apart, Twilio’s main reason for partnering with Persona was to streamline its data collection and verification processes.

Before Persona, one of Twilio’s biggest challenges was managing disparate data and processes. “Every country and sender type has a different policy, and we had built solutions here and there, but it was clear there were too many different systems, processes, and forms of KYC,” explains Christina.

To fix these collection and verification issues, Twilio embedded Persona into its console and built an inquiry template for collecting customer profile information using Dynamic Flow’s no-code editor.

On the verification front, Persona allows Twilio’s customers to submit KYC and KYB information via API or through Twilio’s platform, which Persona then processes for verification. This means Twilio is now able to consolidate data and automate much of what used to be a labor-intensive process. “One of the biggest challenges Persona solves is scalability,” Christina says. “Workflows allows us to codify our vetting process,” BJ adds.

Perhaps more importantly, Persona’s flexible nature allows Twilio to quickly make adjustments to keep up with changing regulations. “When regulations changed, it used to take us 3-6 months to figure out how to make that change on the back and front end, and there was this ever-growing queue of changes we needed to make in our system. We needed a way to do that much more quickly without requiring heavy-duty engineering work,” Christina says. “With Persona’s Dynamic Flow, we can easily change flows as soon as regulations change.”

When regulations changed, it used to take us 3-6 months to figure out how to make that change on the back and front end, and there was this ever-growing queue of changes we needed to make in our system. With Persona’s Dynamic Flow, we can easily change flows as soon as regulations change.
Christina Sung
VP of Product Management at Twilio

Ability to quickly build bespoke processes and products 

To Twilio, the fact that Persona helps businesses solve problems through our technology — versus defaulting to manual review — is also a huge plus. “Most of the stuff you can do in Persona’s console is also available in the API. That allows us to not just use Persona’s UI builder and tools but actually have our systems technically integrated,” says BJ.

Today, Twilio is already using Persona to stand up products faster. “We built a net-new product called KYC Embed using Persona and launched within a very short window of time. Without Persona’s UI layer, it probably would’ve taken a lot longer for us to build,” explains Christina. “After we got the first product up and running, we added a second product, and now we’re adding a third product. Every one of them gets easier — it’s truly what you define as scalable.”

Close partnership

Finally, Twilio appreciates being able to partner closely with Persona to build custom identity solutions. “The level of service and insight we get from our customer success team has been top-notch. We never feel like our requests are ignored, which has been a very critical part of our success,” BJ says.

In particular, Christina’s been impressed with Persona’s customer-centric focus. “It’s very refreshing to work with brands that are like-minded and constantly innovating, adding value, and solving problems for customers,” she says. “When we raise product gaps, they’ve usually already been thought about, and when we pose questions the team hasn't encountered before, they’re open-minded and willing to learn about our needs and brainstorm how to solve them. The culture of looking at customers as partners is what drew us to Persona. Everyone on our team has given rave reviews.”

Before Persona, our operations were behind, which meant if a business wanted to start texting from their website, they might have to wait a while only to get rejected. With Persona, our submission is current — we can approve or reject users in under a day.
BJ Choi
Architect at Twilio

Results: Twilio makes verification decisions faster, benefiting both its team and customers, and is excited to scale with Persona by its side

With Persona consolidating and automating more of the verification process, Twilio’s team has more time to focus on other areas of the business. “Before, our team handled a lot of the manual aspects of the review process,” BJ explains. “Persona significantly increased their productivity.”

More importantly, this helps Twilio offer users a better experience. “We get thousands of submissions per day,” explains BJ. “Before Persona, our operations were behind, which meant if a business wanted to start texting from their website, they might have to wait a while only to get rejected. With Persona, our submission is current — we can approve or reject users in under a day.”

Going forward, Twilio is excited to explore how else Persona can help streamline international KYB. “We’d love to see where else Persona can help us develop better tooling and automate international checks where possible — for example, leveraging verifications in place of manual document reviews,” says Christina.

As Twilio continues to go global, the team is excited to continue expanding both the depth and breadth of its use cases with Persona.  As Christina puts it, "we haven't scratched the surface yet with Persona. We're going to go much more in-depth and wider in scope — that's what's next for us.”

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