African identity verification startup, Smile Identity, says it has hit the 60-million identity check mark, a number which equates to doing ID checks on about 4% of the entire population of Africa.
'Smile Identity now powers 4% of Africa.' – CEO, @SmileIdentity pic.twitter.com/RVTXT1khxB
— BitKE (@BitcoinKE) April 21, 2023
Smile Identity, which has integrations to more ID databases than any other KYC provider in Africa, provides compliance and anti-fraud solutions to many of the continent’s champions in banking, lending, payments, remittances, cryptocurrency and the shared economy.
Some of Smile Identity’s leading African clients include:
- Standard Bank – the largest bank in Africa
- YellowCard – African crypto exchange
- Paystack – a leading payment gateway in Africa
- Bolt – a leading ride-hiring app in Africa
- Chipper Cash
According to a 2022 analysis, there has been an increase in usage of remote KYC services by fintech and crypto service providers across the continent by about 30%. Interestingly, according to Smile Identity, crypto experienced the lowest cases of fraud despite increase in KYC on-boarding.
Out of the 60 million checks achieved so far:
- 72% were approved, while 25% (15 million) were rejected as fraud, suspected fraud, or incorrect ID numbers
- The remaining 3% are checks that failed or were re-run due to ID authority downtime or other technical reasons
The startup, which launched in 2018, adds that it has come a long way in terms of efficiency and speed since then.
“Our KYC checks at Smile Identity now have a median processing time of just 2 seconds, with a record low of 1 second in Q1 of this year.”
The proportion of identity verifications done by women has reached a record high of 31% in Q1 2023, growing from an average of 23% in 2022.
“These verifications most often take place at the point of signing up for a new service. While this data on gender representation suggests that this gender gap may be narrowing, the implication that only 31% of online account openings are being initiated by women means there is still work to be done.”
While Nigeria remains the largest market, Smile Identity claims to have run a statistically significant number of verifications across 16 countries in Africa. The average quarterly volume of checks run outside Nigeria is said to has grown 350% over the last year, surpassing 1 million / quarter for the first time in 2022.
The startup, which raised $20 million in a Series B round in February 2023 intends to cover more ground thanks to its Document Verification product that covers 96% of the African market.
The Document Verification product lets you verify the authenticity of identity documents submitted by your users and confirm that the document actually belongs to the user by comparing the user’s selfie to the photo on the document. All that is required is a selfie of the owner, an image of the document, and document type.
The recent raise brought Smile Identity’s total funding to over $30 million since its founding. At the time, the company said it had doubled its customer base and tripled revenues in 2022 and completed an estimated 50 million Know Your Customer (KYC) and identity verification checks for hundreds of clients, as the sector continues to expand.
“Identity is becoming the new currency of the digital economy” – Mark Straub, CEO of Smile Identity
NB: BitKE got an exclusive with Mark Straub, CEO and Founder of Smile Identity, to talk about the company’s growth, experiences as startup founder, and milestones hit so far. Look out for the interview dropping soon.