Ottawa's Fastest Growing Companies: WorldReach sees sky-high growth potential in digital passport verification tech

Gordon Wilson
Editor's Note

Each year, OBJ recognizes the region’s rapidly growing firms with its Fastest Growing Companies awards. The aim is to honour the city’s top performers for substantial, sustainable and profitable growth. Recipients are ranked by their three-year revenue growth. They must have had revenues of at least $100,000 in the first of those three years under consideration. Revenues must have risen to at least $500,000 in their most recent fiscal year.

While millions of people are champing at the bit to jump on planes again once the pandemic abates, it’s safe to say no one is looking forward to one aspect of international air travel: long lineups at airports.

But an Ottawa company believes at least some of those annoying queues will soon be a thing of the past thanks to its technology. 

WorldReach has become an international leader in digital software that speeds up the process of checking travellers’ passports. The company – which was acquired by ID authentication powerhouse Entrust earlier this month – has become one of five major firms to offer digital passport verification services.

Users complete a form on their smartphone, which is sent to the appropriate customs agency for approval. Customers then simply scan their passports and walk to their gate. 

WorldReach

In 2017, the company won a contract to include its identity verification service for EU citizens registering to stay in the United Kingdom after Brexit. President and CEO Gordon Wilson says the U.K. contract has helped springboard the company’s growth as other countries jump on board. 

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic grounding flights around the world, Wilson is optimistic about WorldReach’s future.

“In a sense, it’s a perfect time to implement the technology” in pilot projects, he says. Canadian airports have begun testing the technology, with the European Union expected to follow suit soon. 

Airports across Canada are now set to adopt WorldReach’s technology on a pilot basis. Expanding its base in North America and Europe could mean the best is yet to come for the local firm.

“The next customers I’m expecting to sign in the coming year could increase our transactions to five to 10 million in a year, compared to two or three million over (the past) two years,” says Wilson. 

Since starting with a team of 12 people, WorldReach has grown to include 50 staff and plans to add more.

“It has been an amazing ride,” Wilson says.

Fastest Growing Companies list