Pan-African cyber security firm Smile Identity raises $20m Series B

Smile Identity, a South African company that offers identity verification and Know Your Customer (KYC) services has raised $20 million in a Series B funding round.

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.

The company was founded in 2017 by Mark Straub and William Bares and focuses on helping to keep fraudsters at bay by providing identification services for African faces.

“Our technology has been trained on over 5 million African faces. With a 99.8% accuracy rate, you can be sure you know who your customers are,” the company states.

The quickly-growing startup uses advanced AI technology to develop its tool and provide KYC services, coming to the rescue of hundreds of businesses that need such services across the continent.

The company said the funding round will help accelerate the development of its technology and facilitate hiring efforts across East, Southern, and West Africa.

“If you onboard a customer and don’t check biometrics, you may be missing 50% of the fraud,” Straub told technology publication TechCrunch.

“The biometric deduplication engine [our smart selfie], which is trademarked as our face recognition technology, can be used both at onboarding and at the stage of deduplication and authentication,” he added.

Among the most interesting innovations from the company in recent times is Document verification, where a photo on the document is scanned and compared to the user’s provided selfie. According to the CEO, this product can provide verification for over one billion people, meaning it can efficiently cover the whole of Africa.

In 2021, Smile Identity processed over 30 million identity verifications. The company says it’s providing services for 100 businesses in banking, fintech, education, agriculture, and e-commerce. It also reports that it performs between 2 to 2.5 million monthly identity checks, which comes in handy as the cybersecurity space continues to evolve.

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Simon W Nderitu

Simon is a tech enthusiast who keeps a close eye on emerging technologies, startups and the general business environment. You will often catch him totally immersed and drooling over Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, IoT and just about any other tech that promises to revolutionize the way we live. Send tips to

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