Terror propaganda, data theft, fraud: tech companies like Facebook have been fighting for years with fake accounts. The German-American startup Passbase wants to solve the problem now – and gets first money from investors in Silicon Valley.
1.3 billion: Facebook biggest problem
One of Facebook’s biggest problems can be summed up in a single number: 1.3 billion. The social network deleted so many fake accounts in the first half of 2018 alone. A Sisyphean task – according to estimates, millions of profiles with fake user data are re-registered every day. For example, to spread or cheat terrorist propaganda. Other tech companies such as Amazon and Twitter have been struggling with the problem for years.
High hopes therefore lie in techniques that make logging in to online services more trustworthy. For example, via a face scan or an ID card, deposit the user once. This is faster and may be safer than a mere e-mail address and password.
Passbase wants to simplify Online Ident
Silicon Valley investors have now chosen a startup that could help bring the technology to a breakthrough: Passbase. The start-up company offers a software interface that will enable developers to provide websites and apps in minutes with a secure Ident method. Once verified by video-selfie and ID, users can conveniently log into networks via a button or shop in online shops. The operators, in turn, have the certainty that real people are behind the profiles.
Only a few lines of code are needed, promises Passbase founder Mathias Klenk. He compares his interface with those of popular payment providers: “Identity verification in the network is now where credit transfers were 20 years ago, long before there were providers such as Paypal and Stripe,” says Klenk. With Passbase it is now possible for companies to accept verifications online as well. The Munich has developed the login service together with Felix Gerlach and ex-Googler Dave McGibbon. The launch is scheduled for April.
Google managers and others invest
At the launch, Alphabet executives and the respected US fund Kleiner Perkins put some $ 600,000 into Passbase. Also participating in the first round are a professor from the elite university Stanford, Upheaval Investments and the London early-stage investor Seedcamp. “The digital world we live in needs a better identity system. Passbase is not the first company to use this great opportunity, but we believe that all the latest data scandals have brought the right time for a decentralized solution that allows control over sensitive data, “commented Seedcamp partner Sia Houchangnia Invest ,
However, the Passbase founders, who previously worked on the Crypto Startup Coinance, have a lot of competition. In the US, for example, Civic is active with a digital Ident method, the company was funded with $ 35 million. In 2018, the login service Verimi also started in Germany with partners such as Axel Springer, Deutsche Bank and Telekom. NetID was joined by another European provider in November.
However, Passbase founder Klenk does not see too much overlap: “Verimi and NetID’s solution is aimed primarily at consumers,” he says. Through advertising campaigns at stations, the providers would also have to struggle with high costs. Klenk therefore wants to sell his software directly to experimental developers who have problems with fake accounts. Passbase is currently in talks with around 200 companies. These include payment and travel providers as well as large platforms. Whether Facebook belongs to it? Klenk does not want to comment on that. Only so much: “Social networks would of course benefit greatly from our solution”.