Most of us have used a notary. A notary stamp ends up on 1.25 billion documents in the U.S. each year, but it’s traditionally a process as manual as it is inconvenient. Pat Kinsel, founder and CEO of Notarize, knows this as well as anyone.
“I started Notarize to solve the personal problem of never wanting to have to worry about finding a notary again and never having a notary make a mistake on a transaction that would impact my life,” he explained.
But what began as a personal problem that sparked the ‘lightbulb moment’ idea of a consumer-facing remote online notary application, quickly morphed into the potential to change the way the entire world notarizes documents online. As the category pioneer and leader, Notarize has completed the country’s first legal online notarization, online real estate closing, online mortgage, online will, and online auto sale.
“I immediately learned that a notarization is almost always a part of a business process or some organizational workflow. All of these organizations, industries, and household brand-names came forward and said, ‘Hey, if you can really do this digitally, it changes the whole business process for us.’ And so we quickly pivoted into helping organizations digitize these experiences, for the very first time,” Kinsel said.
Seems simple enough, right? Not quite: Notarize didn’t just put a ‘notary in the pocket’ of their individual consumers and business partners; they literally went state-by-state and helped change the laws and regulations as to how businesses were able to certify documents online.
“In the early days, I talked to our partners to learn about their process and talked to the various organizations who needed to accept notarized documents. We had a client who sold a plane, which had to be submitted to the FAA. We had a client who sold a boat, which has to go through the Coast Guard. The beginning of the company was this whack-a-mole of people using the Notarize experience and then sending it out to these various organizations,” Kinsel said.
Beyond learning about the individual processes and compliance needs for each industry, Notarize also familiarized themselves with the myriad laws and regulations that govern notaries in each state and have put themselves at the forefront of change by working directly with legislators, regulators, and industry coalitions to change those laws and regulations—which they did. Notarize has been part of changing more than 29 state laws and regulations.
Beyond pushing for legislative and regulatory change, Kinsel and his team had to focus on improving the overall online notary experience across all users. They needed to validate user identity while eliminating fraud—without either party showing up in-person.
“For Notarize to be successful, we had to have amazing tools for notaries, we had to have amazing tools for consumers to sign documents, and then we had to have tools for businesses to administer transactions,” Kinsel said.
The intersection of all these needs brought Notarize to Twilio, to bring reliable service to each of their individual audiences seamlessly.
Kinsel knew about Twilio, and said he always planned to use it to power their platform. Still, he had to wait a little bit for the technology to catch up with his vision.
“When I launched the company, one of the primary requirements for online notarization was the notary must not only communicate with the signers using secure real-time audio-video technology, but that the audio-video recording has to be saved, and at the time, Twilio did not support recording transactions,” he said.
Because of this, Notarize initially launched with a different company; however, they quickly learned the infrastructure used to run the application was just as important.
When Twilio first offered video, Notarize became one of the first to beta test it. From there, the company adopted Twilio Voice, Twilio SMS, as well as recording and session management, archiving, and other products to deliver a consistent end-to-end notary experience for each user.
“The clear, real-time, secure communication platform that Twilio provides not only gives notaries, consumers and businesses a seamless experience but also aids our compliance with the legal requirements of the 29 states that have enacted remote online notarization legislation. Notaries are being provided with the modern tools to do their jobs thanks to safe and secure partners like Twilio," Kinsel said.
Just how groundbreaking is this for businesses and consumers? With the help of Twilio, Notarize has turned a process in one of its business verticals that would have traditionally taken 21 days to complete into a process that takes a total of about 3 minutes. And they’ve made it into a seamless web-to-mobile experience that is available 24/7.
Notarize has fine-tuned its customer experience by using Twilio technology to ensure a seamless transaction every time.
Regardless if the customer hasn’t downloaded the app or has a horrible computer camera, or doesn’t have access to a speaker, or any other issue that might lead to a dropped call or invalidate their identity, they can use various communication avenues such as SMS voice to transition to mobile and vice versa to complete the notary transaction.
“We’ve built this sophisticated system of alerts, and the ability to go between systems for us to meet our compliance obligations and deliver on enterprise SLAs,” said Kinsel.
Notarize’s faith in Twilio is paying off due to Twilio’s reliable security and uptime, which has helped Notarize manage its 99.9 percent uptime and 600 percent increase in customer growth since March 2020.
While the pandemic may have brought businesses to Notarize because of their need for reliable remote online notarization, Cristin Culver, head of communication at Notarize, surmises they’ll stay because of the convenience, speed, and self-service the platform provides.
“Now that people know they can use Notarize so easily, they're never going to go down to the bank and wait an hour for the notary to come back from lunch or pop into a copy and print store and find a random notary. Not when they can do this from their house in three minutes at 10 p.m. or 3 a.m. Our platform already delivered this ‘magic button experience,’ the pandemic just accelerated that realization for our customers,” she said.
Beyond that, the pandemic has highlighted the security benefit of notarizing digitally, including the ability to audit using video recordings and compositions. Kinsel said he also sees potential for growth beyond notarizing, into broader secure business transactions with new policy updates that have been fast-forwarded because of the pandemic.
“As we go beyond notarization into more business process transformation, there's other companies that really have domain experience in reaching those markets, and we want to enable them to serve their clients. We're trying to take our technology into different types of transactions and different services as well as go deeper with our existing partners in different markets,” he explained.
Regardless of what’s next for Notarize, their history speaks for itself. With a customer retention rate of 99.9 percent, they credit their success to the benefits of an in-person interaction in a high trust online transaction. That, and a reliable and consistent infrastructure.
“Because we're built on the framework of Twilio, our partners and customers consider us best-in-class,” Kinsel said.