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SA biometric authentication startup Iidentifii claims to be market leader in Africa

Statistics released by the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) in September show a 99% increase this year over 2018 in the number of cases in South Africa involving identity fraud. One startup reckons it’s come up with a way to tackle this.

Lance Fanaroff, the co-founder and co-CEO of award winning Cape Town biometric digital authentication startup Iidentifii (stylised iiDENTIFii and recently called 1IDENTITY) — now claims his company is the market leader not only in South Africa, but in Africa as well.

Iidentifii, which won the Digital Innovation Award at this year’s Sunday Times Top 100 Company Awards which were held earlier this month in Johannesburg, provides a remote biometric digital authentication and automated on-boarding technology platform.

The startup was founded in 2017 by Fanaroff together with Robert Sussman and Gur Geva. Prior to Iidentifii, Sussman and Fanaroff founded ICT management and managed services firm Integr8 Group in 2001 whose subsidiary Integr8 IT was acquired in 2012 by BCX (then known as Business Connexion) in 2012 for R126-million (see this story).

The mounting global problem of identity fraud has given rise to a race for identity management solutions that are designed protect consumers and businesses from losing money to identity fraud.

In South Africa, as is the case in other countries, financial services businesses are required by law to carry out Know Your Client (KYC) processes which among other things seek to ascertain the identity of a prospective client.

Iidentifii was founded in 2017 by Lance Fanaroff, Robert Sussman and Gur Geva

A number of South African regtech startups have come up with identity management solutions that are being used to carry out KYC compliance. These include ThisIsMe, DocFox, StriderTech (see this story).

Process takes 30 seconds

Fanaroff’s platform makes use of mobile phones and official identity documents to match a selfie a user has taken of themselves, with the image that appears on their ID.

The platform then extracts information like the person’s name, surname and ID number off the ID. This data is then matched with a facial biometric at an issuing authority, after which it then completes the on-boarding process.

Crucially, Iidentifii’s platform uses three-dimensional analysis to prove that the individual online is really alive. Fanaroff claims the whole process is carried out in 30 seconds.

He says that while other companies might have components of the startup’s platform, is the only one with the complete solution.

“I don’t think any companies have the same end-to-end solution we have,” he points out, adding that “proof of liveness” is a major part of the company’s technology.

‘Everything is about credibility’

Iidentifii remote biometric digital authentication and automated on-boarding technology platform has won it a number accolades.

The startup was a finalist for the 2019 Africa Tech Week Best Digital Company Award as well as the National Business Awards’ Innovation Award and Digital Company of the Year Award, both held earlier this year.

Iidentifii also won the small enterprise category at the 2019 BCX Digital Innovation Awards, held last month.

Fanaroff says the startup operates in a space where “everything is about credibility” and that awards go a long way to win the company trust from potential clients.

‘Investor is very big group’

Fanaroff says up until last month, the startup which employs 15 people, has been funded internally through sales revenue. He says the startup struggled in its early days. “We battled for quite a while,” he added.

Iidentifii recently finalised a deal with an investor who acquired a minority stake. Fanaroff declined to disclose just how much the deal was worth or the name of the investor who he said is “a very big group”.

Although he also declined to share numbers on the company’s perfomance, Fanaroff says the company is “starting to do very well” and is at a stage where it is “all about growing the business”.

Pilots in South America

Iidentifii has secured pilots in Argentina and Mexico and is looking to secure more businesses in India where Fanaroff says there’s big demand for biometric digital authentication.

Locally, the startup is working with Bidvest and Standard Bank, including on the bank’s Shyft App and Online Share Trading App.

Fanaroff says Iidentifii now wants to move beyond on-boarding to handling other subsequent transactions in a bid to tackle online fraud.


Also published on Medium.

Published inStartups

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