Smile Identity, a company that provides ID verification and KYC compliance for African faces and identities has closed a $7 million Series A funding.

The round was co-led by Costanoa Ventures and pan-African venture firm, CRE Venture Capital. Other investors that participated include VCs like LocalGlobe, Intercept Ventures, Future Africa, and unnamed angel investors.

Existing investors, including Khosla Impact, ValueStream Ventures, Beta Ventures, 500 Startups, Story Ventures, participated as well.

Founded in 2017 by Mark Straub and William Bares, Smile Identity makes it easy for Africans to prove their identity online, by unifying ID verification and KYC compliance infrastructure across Africa.

In Africa, identity is not just a risk and compliance function, it is a key building block for commerce. Identity is essential to accessing financial accounts, social services, loans, SIM cards, and property.

Smile Identity is building a technology layer that makes Africa’s new (and old ID) systems accessible and useful for the next generation of African technology companies while maintaining best-in-class security and enabling local consent and compliance standards.

The company is present across six markets in Africa: Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda, and Uganda and reportedly covers more than 250 million identities and verification for 15 different ID types while performing over one million identity checks every month.

Its software is used in banking, fintech, ride-sharing, worker verification, public social welfare programs, and telecommunications.

According to TechCrunch, Smile Identity says it has about 80 customers who are charged on a per-query basis. They include payments companies like Paystack, Paga, and Chipper Cash; neo-banks like Kuda and Umba; traditional banks like Stanbic IBTC; cryptocurrency exchanges like Binance, Luno, and Paxful; and supply-chain businesses like Twiga.

What you should know

  • In 2019, Smile Identity secured a $4 million seed round. With this Series A, the company has raised a total of $11 million.
  • The company plans to use this 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.


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