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Smile Identity Launches Enhanced Document Verification in Africa, Europe and North America

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​​Smile Identity, the identity verification provider, has launched Document Verification, its new product set to enable businesses to accept and verify 142 ID types across 100 countries in Africa, Europe, and North America for KYC and user onboarding.

Document Verification will help businesses in lending to remittances, digital banking to cryptocurrency trading among others to reinforce trust in a digital-first environment as African businesses and platforms experience a surge in demand for proper Know Your Customer (“KYC”) checks.

According to Kay Sulyman, Product Manager for Compliance at global remittance provider Chipper Cash, “We are excited about Document Verification. It promises to help us with regulatory changes in Africa, like supporting the new Ghana Card. It’s great to know that Smile Identity’s coverage extends to all of Africa.”

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With the new platform, Smile Identity can verify documents to onboard their customers by confirming the authenticity of over 140 ID documents across 100 countries in Africa, Europe and North America, and leverages Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to read the KYC information on the document itself. Users simply snap a selfie and photo of their document to prove their identity online; Smile Identity takes care of the rest.

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In July last year, Smile Identity raised $7 million in Series A funding co-led by Costanoa Ventures and the pan-African venture firm, CRE Venture Capital, along with participation from LocalGlobe, Intercept Ventures, Future Africa Ventures, and Angel Investors from across Africa and around the world. Existing investors, including Khosla Impact, ValueStream Ventures, Beta Ventures, 500 Startups, and Story Ventures also participated.

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The round, which marks the largest investment into an identity verification company focused on Africa, brought Smile Identity’s total funding to over $11M to help it improve its services, expand across more markets, add support for more ID types and hire more engineers and support staff across Africa.

Launched in 2017, Smile Identity makes it easy for Africans anywhere to quickly and easily prove their identity online, while providing startups and established enterprises with the tools and software they need to automate customer onboarding, verify identities, and prevent fraud. The startup provides Identity Verification, Digital KYC, User Onboarding, Document Verification, Liveness Checks, Face Verification, Anti-fraud, and Identity Data Deduplication tools powering the rapid growth and expansion of businesses and startups across Africa.

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Using Artificial Intelligence designed for African faces and identities, Smile Identity enables ID verification and KYC compliance for Africans who spend an inordinate amount of time trying to prove or verify their identities in order to gain access to financial accounts, loans, SIM cards, address proofs, and social services.

The company performs over 1 million identity checks every month across Africa and its software is used in banking, fintech, ride sharing, worker verification, public social welfare programs, and telecommunications. Some of its customers include Paystack, Paga and Chippercash; neo-banks like Kudabank and Umba; traditional banks like Stanbic IBTC; cryptocurrency exchanges like Binance, Luno, and Paxful; and even supply-chain businesses like Twiga.

“With Document Verification, we can now verify national IDs, passports, and more,” said Salami Abolore, CEO of Riby, a digital platform offering financial services to cooperatives and trade groups in Africa, adding. “Smile Identity helps us onboard individual and small business users quickly, allowing us to focus on getting them the financial services they need to thrive.”

A core feature of Document Verification is the use of SmartSelfie™, Smile Identity’s proprietary facial verification technology, which compares a user-submitted selfie to the image on the document. SmartSelfie™ is a debiased biometric solution for face detection, matching and liveness confirmation that has a 99.9% accuracy rate on African faces. This renders Document Verification one of the most secure offerings of its kind, helping businesses and platforms combat fraud and promote trust.

Document Verification complements Smile Identity’s core products that run KYC on the basis of an ID number, rather than a document scan. Document Verification helps businesses retain a record of the IDs they checked, a regulatory requirement in key countries.

By giving businesses more options across continents to conduct their KYC process in a secure and compliant manner, Smile Identity is contributing to growth in trade and remittance corridors between Africa, Europe and North America. Smile Identity fosters trust and positive user experiences, which strengthens the African digital economy as a whole while meeting customer, business and regulatory needs.

With subsidiaries, branch offices and engineers in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda and counting, Smile Identity’s growing team is made up of people from 12 countries, including 8 African nations. To standardize identity verification across the continent and provide a single solution for a new generation of African companies, 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.

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Sam Wakoba
Sam Wakoba
Taking you on tour through Africa's tech and business ecosystem, one story at a time since 2010! Based out of Nairobi, Kenya, Sam is the founder and managing director of Moran Media, which runs, various other digital platforms and a startup incubation hub for Kenya's youthful entrepreneurs. Drop me a mail at [email protected]

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