Smile Identity, an Identity verification startup, has announced the raise of $7 million in a Series A round co-led by Costanoa Ventures and pan-African venture firm, CRE Venture Capital.
Other investors that participated in the round include LocalGlobe, Intercept Ventures, Future Africa, and other unnamed angel investors. Exiting investors such as Khosla Impact, ValueStream Ventures, Beta Ventures, 500 Startups, and Story Ventures also participated in the round.
Following the raise, John Cowgill, a partner at Costanoa Ventures, will be joining the board of Smile Identity.
With the new investment, Smile Identity plans to improve its services and expand across more markets. It will also add support for more ID types as well as hire more engineers and support staff across Africa.
Smile Identity was founded by Mark Straub and William Bares in 2017. The company has since established operations in six African countries, which include Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda, and Uganda.
The company’s software is currently used by companies in several sectors such as banking, fintech, ride-sharing, worker verification, and telecommunications. Smile Identity charges its customers on a per-query basis.
Its suite of about 80 clients includes payments companies like Paystack, Paga, and Chipper Cash; digital banks Kuda and Umba and traditional banks like Stanbic IBTC; cryptocurrency exchange platforms like Binance, Luno, and Paxful; and supply-chain businesses like Twiga Foods.
“We are an accelerant of the growth of fintechs and shared economy companies because they know when they spend money on customers, those are real customers because they have actually done verification with us,” he said.
According to data on the company’s website, Smile Identity connects to over 15 different ID authorities and its ID validation covers over 250 million identities across Africa.
This funding brings total investments raised by Smile Identity to $11 million. It secured a $4 million seed round in 2019.
According to a World Bank report, over 1 billion people have no official proof of identity in the world, and 81% of this number live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Smile Identity’s verification solution has made it easier for Africans to be verified.