Smile Identity has raised $7 million in Series A funding to make it easy for Africans to prove their identity online, by unifying ID verification and KYC compliance infrastructure across Africa.
Costanoa Ventures co-led the investment with pan-African venture firm CRE Venture Capital. Other investors that took part in the funding include Intercept Ventures, Future Africa, Local Globe and undisclosed angel investors. This is Smile Identity’s second major fundraising since it launched 4 years ago in 2017.The first funding was for the sum of $4 million and was raised in 2019.
Founded by Mike Straub and William Bres,Smile Identity provides provides an ID verification and KYC compliance infrastructure for companies in different fields including fintech, banking ride-hailing and cryptocurrency. Its tech solutions are used in 6 countries which are Nigeria, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Ghana and Kenya.
As more parts of commerce shift online, being able to digitally verify one’s identity is becoming increasingly important in order to access the many services and financial products available. According to the World Bank, over 1 billion individuals throughout the world have difficulty identifying who they are online.
According to data, 81 percent of this group of people live in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, and 47 percent are under the age of their country’s national id. Even when Africans have formal identification, they spend an inordinate amount of time verifying that they are who they claim to be, whether it is for business or travel.
Smile Identity verifies identities with 15 ID authorities across the 6 countries, with its identity validations covering more than 250 million people.
Smile Identity’s innovation builds on the advancements that governments and non-profits have made and creates a “technology layer that makes Africa’s new and old ID systems accessible and useful for the next generation of African technology companies.”
This technology will make processes like onboarding new customers or employees easier for companies across Africa. Before its latest investment, a number of other investors have believed in and funded the business. They include Story Ventures, 500 Startups, ValueStream Ventures and Khosa Impact. These investors also participated in its new round.
With this funding, the startup will improve and scale its innovations as well as expand into more markets. Smile Identity will add verification support for more ID types in order to offer customers an even more diverse solution set. The startup already has 80 customers which include Twiga, Paystack, Umba, Paga, ChipperCash and Kuda Bank, Binance, Luno, Paxful and Stanbic IBTC.