An African identity verification start-up is looking to expand after bringing in $7 million in a recent Series A funding round. Smile Identity was founded in 2017, and has now brought in a total of $11 million in start-up investments.
The latest round was led by Costanoa Ventures and CRE Venture Capital, with additional input from a roster of firms that includes LocalGlobe, Intercept Ventures, Future Africa, Khosla Impact, ValueStream Ventures, Beta. Ventures, 500 Startups, and Story Ventures. Costanoa will be the most involved of those companies moving forward, with Smile revealing that Costanoa partner John Cowgill will be taking a seat on the Smile board.
For its part, Smile plans to use the funds to increase its employee headcount, and to improve is face and document recognition technology. The company’s solution currently recognizes 15 document types, but Smile is hoping to raise that number as it enters new markets in Africa. Smile already offers services in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda and Uganda.
Smile Identity’s broader goal is to eliminate the racial bias found in other facial recognition systems. The company’s platform is designed primarily for customer onboarding, matching a face to a photo ID to verify someone’s identity when they open a bank account, register for a welfare program, or sign up for services like ride-sharing. In that regard, it is comparable to other onboarding solutions that have emerged in the past few years.
However, most of those competing solutions were developed in other parts of the world. Smile Identity’s offering is one of the few that was developed locally in Africa, which allows it to perform better for people with darker faces. The company has rapidly gained traction on the continent, and now processes more than one million identity checks on a monthly basis.
Source: Techpoint Africa
July 9, 2021 – by Eric Weiss