Facts and patterns in networks

Putting Metadata to Work

Building knowledge and fostering trust in a fragmented digital world

Factern specialises in the creation of shareable metadata layers to support collaboration, decision automation and insight development. We thrive on use cases which demand coherent, trusted, traceable and repeatable outcomes, but which draw on data and processing that is fragmented both across organisational and procedural boundaries, and over time.


Our Services

Factern was founded by business leaders with decades of experience in both regulated industry and consulting. We believe that understanding and managing the complexity inherent in any use case comes first: technical implementation choices flow from these fundamentals.

Our teams use creative collaboration techniques to help business and policy owners abstract the key concepts and core business logic that cut to the heart of their problem. We help technology teams draw on common standards to define the capabilities needed to represent and persist this knowledge. And we work with policy modellers and data scientists to develop powerful, flexible and scalable solutions that exploit it.

We are technology agnostic and specialise in early stage projects to develop, prove and implement an initial instantiation of the capabilities our clients need. We also work as part of larger teams with preferred delivery providers or integration specialists to develop enterprise grade solutions.

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Market and Thought Leadership

Factern has successfully delivered ground-breaking projects for UK clients that include Government Departments, high street banks and Digital Identity Providers. We have collaborated with the Competition and Markets Authority, the Department of Media, Culture and Sport and the Payments Strategy Forum – to name a few – to promote the role of shared knowledge bases in solving for issues such as banking competition, personal data portability and financial crime. We regularly co-author articles with other market participants and are active members of the Open Identity Exchange (OIX).

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Understanding, assurance, insight

Managing a knowledge base, not just a data base

We engage with business and policy owners to model their own deep domain knowledge and abstract their core business logic so that the key concepts that cut to the heart of the problem can be represented – and managed – as metadata. We help technology teams to set up capabilities to create a persistent and growing knowledge base, managed as a highly valuable resource. And we work with data scientists to develop powerful, flexible and scalable solutions that exploit it.

Modelling your Business


Within any organisation, there are some domains of activity – such as identity proofing, data quality assurance and customer due diligence – that are common concerns of all units of operation. And yet, often for good reason, not every unit of operation shares the same implementation of that activity, leading to duplicated costs and frustrated user journeys.

Factern’s consultants will work with your own domain experts to model the key concepts that are central to such use cases, regardless of how they are implemented, and to codify them as a flexible, extensible metadata model. In doing so, we will help you to create language that your software engineers can also engage with directly, fostering a creative collaboration between your domain and technical experts that speeds up development cycles and delivers better solutions.

Establishing a Corporate Memory


A metadata model provides the foundation of a knowledge base that can act as a common and ongoing point of reference across the organisation, so that granular activity undertaken on a distributed basis can be consistently mapped and recorded. A shared ‘corporate memory’ provides the basis for trust between operational silos and allows their overlapping efforts to be easily identified.

Our teams will help you to establish machine-readable ontologies to govern the evolution of a knowledge-base that straddles boundaries within – or beyond – your organisation, and to architect the infrastructure needed to capture, store and manage access to a record of the events that represent an audit trail of the activity taking place within the domain or use case over time.

Automating Policy; Developing Insight


A persistent and granular audit trail of activity is not only valuable to demonstrate compliance to internal and external stakeholders, but also to serve as a rich input into decision engines that automate policy and strip out costs, as well as analytical models that derive new insights and expand opportunities.

Factern has experience of working with policy automation software to define policies that draw on the presence of events in the metadata layer to satisfy the conditions you need to meet. We also have the expertise to work with your analytical teams to define, refine and validate mathematical models that are authorised to exploit the ‘big data’ that constitutes the knowledge base.


12 December 2019
OIX Workshop

Participate in the discussion as Ben joins a panel to discuss the forthcoming OIX Whitepaper “Building a Trusted Environment: Event-based Attribute Assurance”

29 September 2019
Supplier to gov.uk digital marketplace

We are proud to have been selected to supply services to the Crown Commercial Service under the Digital Outcomes and Specialists 4 Framework. For more information about these services and how to procure, please register as a ‘buyer’ on the Digital Marketplace.

20 September 2019
OIX Workshop

Ben presents initial findings from the Factern-led OIX Discovery Project “Building a Trusted Environment: Event-based Attribute Assurance”

31 January 2019
OIX Workshop

Factern’s CEO Ben Helps joins HSBC’s Alastair Campbell to present and discuss the benefits of an Event-based approach to digital identity.

16 October 2018
Smart Payment Forum

Join Ben as he ruminates on why Cloud-based software solutions might be turning to tokenisation to account and settle for ‘work done’.

28 March 2018
Un-blocking Identity in a Digital World

Factern is proud to have worked with UK Finance and the Whitechapel Think Tank on the excellent report they have just published, documenting how metadata management can play a key role in digital identity solutions.

28 February 2018
Customer Due Diligence

Hear Factern’s CEO Ben Helps present his thoughts on the role of metadata in Customer Due Diligence solutions to the MLROs Conference in Birmingham.

31 July 2017
Trusted SME KYC Solution

Factern welcomes the Consultation Document published by the Payment Strategy Forum, and is delighted to have played a role on the Working Group for a “Trusted SME KYC Solution”.

12 June 2017
Digital Identity Attribute Sharing

Mvine’s Frank Joshi announces his company’s collaboration with Factern to develop a digital identity attribute sharing platform that will reset the bar in financial services and retail banking.

30 April 2017
Future-Proofing Privacy

Factern is proud to have co-authored the recently published perspectives paper “Future Proofing Privacy: GDPR Compliance in a Networked Banking System” with Oliver Wyman

31 March 2016
Banks Respond to CMA Provision Remedies

Lloyds Bank and Santander both highlight the role that could be played by Factern in their response to the CMA’s provision remedies for SME banking.


Talk to us

Email us at discovery@factern.com

Call us on +44 20 3219 5180

Visit us at 55 Baker Street, London, W1U 8EW


Interested in working with Factern? We are always on the look-out for business developers, conceptual modellers and software engineers who love to think deeply and to deliver fantastic outcomes for our clients.

Email us at discovery@factern.com


Our story

Factern was born of frustration: frustration with the difficulty of getting low cost access to high quality, private information on UK small businesses, and frustration with the problems that this was causing the UK small business financing market following the 2008 crisis.

That frustration was shared by Santander, Experian, Oliver Wyman, KPMG and AgFe. These institutions launched the Business Data Initiative and collaborated to develop a prototype solution to be showcased to the UK financial services community at a roundtable hosted by the Cabinet Office. The reaction to the prototype was enthusiastic, to the extent that it was adopted by several banks as an input into the Competition and Market Authority's review of the UK retail and small business banking market.

But we realised that the fundamental issue – that data continues to be trapped in silos – is a universal one: it is not specific to the UK, to small businesses or to lending. And this insight was confirmed through conversations with over 150 institutions in the UK and beyond, across a range of different industries.

Factern was formed as a commercial venture in November 2015, and since then we've worked closely with clients, peer institutions and policy makers to develop the flexible, accessible metadata layers that form a key part of the common infrastructure needed to manage understanding, assurance and insight across organisational boundaries.

Our people

Paul Rolles
Paul is a mathematician, entrepreneur and financier who has been involved in the European and International financial asset markets for over 25 years.
Ben Helps
Ben is a business and thought leader with over 20 years of experience working in commercial banking, with a focus on strategy development, customer engagement and process improvement.
Richard Atterbury
Richard has 28 years of investment banking experience in both Europe and the US, and is a board member of Soros Economic Development Fund, and Chairman of New Philanthropy Capital.
Chris Lowrie
Advisor - Product Management
Chris brings over 25 years of technology, operational and product management experience to Factern, where he advises on technological innovation.
Mike Janzen
Advisor - Software Architecture
Mike has over 25 years in software development, including founding and developing start-ups, with deep experience hiring, training, coaching, managing, and leading research and engineering teams.
Rolf Hickman
Advisor - Business Data
Rolf founded pH Group in 1987, which developed the UK’s largest business database (the pH Megafile). Having led the business from its inception, Rolf left in 2012, subsequent to Experian’s acquisition of pH Group. Rolf is an active advisor to several companies, including Factern, AgFe and Thincats.