Africa-focused startup Smile Identity, which enables ID verification and KYC compliance through artificial intelligence (AI) designed for African faces and identities, has secured US$7 million in Series A funding to improve its services and expand across more markets.
Smile Identity launched in 2017 with a mission to make it easy for Africans anywhere to quickly and easily prove their identity online and provide businesses with the tools and software they need to automate customer onboarding, verify identities, and prevent fraud.
To standardise 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. The company performs over one million identity checks every month across Africa and its software is used in banking, fintech, ride-sharing, worker verification, public social welfare programmes, and telecommunications.
The US$7 million Series A round brings Smile Identity’s total funding to over US$11 million. The company plans to use the new funding to improve its services, expand across more markets, add support for more ID types and hire more engineers and support staff across Africa.
The investment was co-led by Costanoa Ventures and the pan-African venture firm CRE Venture Capital, along with participation from LocalGlobe, Intercept Ventures, Future Africa, 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.
“We believe anyone should be able to prove their identity easily, anywhere in the world and that access to a modern digital lifestyle should not depend on the origin of your ID card or IP address,” said Mark Straub, Smile Identity’s co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO).
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.