Today we’re announcing our participation in a seed financing round into Smile Identity, a mobile-focused identity and KYC solution for Emerging Markets. In much of the western world, we take identity for granted. We are all issued some form of National ID that allows us to be uniquely identified and tracked throughout our lives. Though the anarchists amongst us may not appreciate being tracked, a nationally-recognized unique identifier does unlock some pretty amazing benefits—including credit.
In many Emerging Markets, however, there are no unified national identity systems. This makes fraud difficult to manage, as consumers can apply for loans under multiple aliases without any way for a lender to verify that the applicant is or is not who he says he is.
Smile Identity provides a complete, end-to-end Identity Validation and Authentication solution using facial recognition technology designed for low power devices and low bandwidth networks. You’ve probably seen similar technology, such as the iPhone X’s FaceID authentication; Smile not only optimizes this technology for the mobile devices most commonly found in Emerging Markets, but also goes further into validation integration, establishing a unique identity for consumers and verifying that identity with government databases and other institutions where possible.
By expanding identity validation options in these high growth markets, institutions can begin to build credit histories, reduce fraud rates, increase credit limits, and offer services that would otherwise have been too risky in such low-trust environments.
The team’s initial focus is on the African continent, where 1 billion people operating in a low-trust economy is slowing the development of consumer and financial services. We’re excited to partner with the team to facilitate accelerated development of these economies.