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$20 M Series B funding secured by Africa-focused KYC startup Smile Identity

A US $20 million Series B investment round has been secured by the Africa-focused firm Smile Identity to support its growth throughout the continent. Smile Identity uses artificial intelligence (AI) built for African faces and identities to allow ID verification and KYC compliance.

In addition to giving companies the tools and software they need to streamline client onboarding, verify identities, and avoid fraud, Smile Identity was founded in 2017 with the goal of making it simple for Africans everywhere to quickly and simply establish their identity online.

Smile Identity collaborates with local ID authorities and has developed a platform that combines ID validation with proprietary face verification and liveness checks to support non-surveillance, consent-based access, and financial inclusion. This platform aims to standardise identity verification across the continent and offer a single solution for a new generation of African businesses.

The firm secured a US $20 million Series B financing after raising a US$7 million Series A round in 2021. Costanoa and Norrsken22 served as the round’s lead investors, and 500 FinTech, Commerce Ventures, Courtside Ventures, Two Culture Capital, Valuestream Ventures, and Intercept Ventures also contributed. As part of the round, Lexi Novitske from Norrsken22 will join the board of Smile Identity.

In order to speed up the development and specialisation of its AI-powered biometrics, document verification, anti-fraud, and compliance solutions suited for African markets, Smile Identity will use the money to grow its product and technical staff. In order to complete its pan-African reach, the firm is expanding its current teams in East, West, and Southern Africa. It also has ambitions to access the Francophone and Arab-speaking markets through localised sales and support.

The business will also keep up its strong collaboration with regulators and ID authorities to enforce African data protection laws, incorporate consumer consent standards into software, and exchange information on trends in fraud and financial inclusion.

“We believe the majority of people are honest,” said Mark Straub, CEO and co-founder of Smile Identity. “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.”

According to Novitske, Smile Identity is paving the road for Africa’s digital revolution by giving millions of people safe, verified IDs.

“Under the leadership of CEO Mark Straub, a top-notch team, and an on-the-ground presence across the continent, Smile is positioned to capture a significant share of Africa’s growing US $1.5 billion identity and KYC market opportunity. By empowering the continent with a foundation for safe transactions, Smile is driving financial service adoption and shaping the digital economy’s future,” she said.




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