Historically hidden in the back office, Boise’s Kount is stepping into the forefront, not only figuratively but literally.
Kount, now with 158 employees tucked in the Lusk Neighborhood near Boise State University, is in the process of remodeling a new headquarters smack in the middle of downtown Boise in a century-old building that could hold double the company’s current size.
The company develops technology that analyzes hundreds of bits of data when a customer makes a credit card purchase online, or on a mobile phone, to determine within 250 milliseconds whether it is valid or fraudulent.
Consequently, as e-commerce and digital transformation have taken a larger role in business, so has Kount. It now monitors transactions in 180 countries on any given day, including three dozen in Antarctica – just about every country the U.S. federal government allows.
“Historically, people would view Kount as a payment-centric fraud solution,” said CEO Brad Wiskirchen, who has also served as an attorney at Holland & Hart and on the board of the Federal Reserve. “Now we protect.”
That is particularly true as brick-and-mortar businesses move to digital storefronts, whether it’s through smartphone applications or websites. “They’re finding that they’re experiencing fraud there – fraudulent accounts, fraudulent takeover,” he said. “We are payment-centric, to protect business in each of their digital interactions.”
Also, the U.S. is increasingly moving to so-called chip-and-pin or Europay Mastercard Visa (EMV) credit cards, which use a computer chip rather than the traditional signature-based credit cards. Accordingly, thieves have moved from physical card theft, which is now harder to do, to theft using e-commerce and other transactions known as “card not present,” where a physical card is not presented during the transaction. Nearly 40 percent of merchants indicated that they have seen an increase in mobile channel fraud, according to a survey conducted earlier this year by the company.
In addition, Kount’s role has been growing through increasingly large partner relationships, even though the Kount name isn’t always visible. The company provides fraud control for Chase Paymentech as well as for Braintree, a division of PayPal that specializes in mobile and web payment systems for e-commerce and provides a merchant account and payment gateway. The company also partners with BlueSnap, a payments technology provider that recently made an agreement with First Data, a commerce-enabling technology company that serves 6 million business locations and 4,000 financial institutions in more than 100 companies worldwide.
Kount has also started making direct relationships with merchants, primarily in what Wiskirchen calls the “quick service restaurant” space, such as Dunkin’ (formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts) and Domino’s Pizza. “As they move from brick and mortar to app-based, they are leveraging our technology,” he said.
The company received a venture capital infusion of $80 million in 2015 from CVC Capital Partners, in what was considered at the time the largest private equity investment in Idaho. At that point, Wiskirchen – who at the time was CEO of three different, though related, companies – became CEO of just one, Kount.
“They’ve been fantastic partners,” helping with items such as the new headquarters, he said.
And from this point, Kount should be able to go it alone, without further financing, Wiskirchen added. “I don’t foresee us needing another round, ever,” he said.
Typically, when companies are given venture capital, the investors would like to get their money back at some point, which generally means either an acquisition or an initial public offering. The company hasn’t discussed going public, Wiskirchen said.