Smile Identity has secured a $20 million Series B funding round and is planning to expand across the African continent.
The firm states it is expanding its existing teams in East, West, and Southern Africa and completing its pan-African reach with plans to enter Francophone and Arab-speaking markets through localized sales and support.
The Africa-focused startup which enables ID verification and KYC compliance through artificial intelligence (AI) designed for African faces and identities, raised $7 million in a Series A round in 2021.
The funding round was led by Costanoa and Norrsken22, with participation from Commerce Ventures, Courtside Ventures, Two Culture Capital, Valuestream Ventures, Intercept Ventures, Latitude, Future Africa, and 500 Fintech.
According to a report by Disrupt Africa, Lexi Novitske from Norrsken22 will join Smile Identity’s board as part of the round.
Smile Identity plans to use the fund to expand its product and engineering team.
The firm will also use the fund to catalyze the development and specialization of its AI-powered biometrics, document verification, anti-fraud, and compliance solutions tailored for African markets.
Smile Identity has committed to working closely with regulators and ID authorities to build consumer consent standards into software, enforce African data protection laws, and share data on fraud and financial inclusion trends.
Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Smile Identity, Mark Straub stated, “We believe the majority of people are honest. The challenge in the digital age is to prove this, regardless of how a user onboards – whether via agents, apps, tablets, the web, blockchains, or paper forms. We are thrilled to have the support of our partners and investors as we solve this problem across IDs, devices, and compliance regimes to ensure Africans are among the most trusted consumers in the world.”
The $1.5 billion identification and KYC market potential in Africa are expanding, and Smile is well-positioned to take advantage of it with a top-notch staff and a regional footprint.
Smile Identity claims it is driving financial service adoption and shaping the digital economy’s future by empowering the continent with a foundation for safe transactions.
The start-up was launched in 2017 and its mission is to make it easy for Africans anywhere to quickly and easily prove their identity online and provide businesses with the tools and software they need to automate customer onboarding, verify identities, and prevent fraud.
Smile Identity works with local ID authorities and has built a platform that combines ID validation with proprietary face verification and liveness checks to support non-surveillance, consent-based access and financial inclusion.
This promotes identity verification uniformity throughout the continent and offers a single remedy for a new wave of African businesses.