Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Innovation Hub

Hot startup of the month: South Africa's iiDENTIFii

Article Image
South African-based digital identity startup iiDENTIFii's mission is to be Africa's biometric authentication app of choice. The app is designed to stop identity theft and fraud.

With everything moving online, people are opening bank accounts without physically going into a branch and doing their shopping without going into a physical store.

Remote digital identification is key and that is where iiDENTIFii comes in, says co-founder and chief strategy officer Lance Fanaroff, in an interview with Connecting Africa.

Established in 2018, the company has created a face authentication technology that safely authenticates users via their cell phones or computers within seconds.

The digital identity startup recently raised US$15 million in funding. The round was led by African investment company Arise; other participating investors include growth-stage private equity firm Sanari Capital and veteran US tech entrepreneur Bill Spruill.

How does it work

"We have created an app that can prove the identity of a person within 30 seconds, with only a phone and an identity document, iiDENTIFii can determine whether a person is alive, by using patented liveness detection technology that proves biometric 3D and 4D liveness," he added.

"During the liveness detection process, a selfie is taken, and then it triangulates the selfie taken, with the facial image on the identity document, together with the biometric facial image at the respective government database," said Fanaroff.

"We extract all the data and then verify that with the information we get from the government. We then compare the individual on the selfie with the picture on the identity document as well as the information at the government entity. Using that, we can then prove that the person is who they say they are," Fanaroff continued.

Fanaroff added that iiDENTIFii's technology ensures that the person attempting to get authentication is alive and if they don't have that person's facial features the authentication won't work.

iiDENTIFii works with high-profile institutions such as Standard Bank, ABSA Bank and Investec Bank, and works in several other industries in South Africa.

The startup's technology is used by banks and other corporations as a way of authenticating both their customers and employee. The opt-in technology minimizes fraud.

The startup added that it minimizes the false accept rate as well as the false reject rate. The false accept rate occurs when a financial institution will onboard the wrong individual and in turn enable identity fraud. The false reject rate is when the institution rejects the correct individual.

Addressing the digital divide

The co-founder acknowledged that there is still a long way to go when it comes to making sure that South Africans are all connected and have fast Internet.

Fanaroff said the platform uses a reverse billing mechanism so the businesses pay for the data used by the customers. The company also introduced browser based alternative where customers just click on a link to do the authentication process as opposed to downloading the app. iiDENTIFii's technology will work as long as a cellphone that has a camera is used. In some cases, geo location is also used for onboarding purposes.

"All this is opting in; we want to prevent the inconvenience of going to a branch and queuing, with a seamless experience on their mobile phones," he said.

Face authentication technology. (Source: iiDENTIFii).
Face authentication technology. (Source: iiDENTIFii).

The co-founder added that another key factor of the authentication technology is to help fight identity fraud.

"I think they say that every two seconds in the world someone's identity is stolen and that is what we want to prevent. We want to prevent the financial burden it costs individuals when someone hacks into their phones and does a transaction," he explained.

The onus is on the person that has been hacked to prove that they have been hacked, he continued.

African expansion

The co-founder is excited by the funding the company recently acquired as it will support expansion into more countries on the continent.

Cybercrime in the financial sector is huge and Fanaroff explained that the company's biometric authentication can play an integral part in fighting cybercrime within the sector.

"The funding is going to help us in expanding into other African markets as well as globally. It going to help us create more jobs in different departments within the company and will further solidify our goal to authenticate every face in Africa as well as be the app of choice," he added.

Filling cybersecurity skills gap

The funding will also help the company fill some of the vacant positions in the cybersecurity space.

According to the global Fortinet 2022 Cybersecurity Skills Gap Report, the cybersecurity skills gap has contributed to 80% of documented breaches in organization surveyed.

In addition, 60% of executives surveyed confessed that their organizations were struggling to recruit qualified individuals and keep current cybersecurity staff.

While the number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs went down by around 400,000 in 2021, there are still 2.72 million unfilled cybersecurity positions, the report added.

Holder of many accolades

The company has won many awards including the Best Enterprise Solution at the MTN Business App of the Year Awards 2021. It was also named the New or Emerging Independent Software Vendor (ISV) Partner of the Year in the Microsoft South Africa Partner of the Year 2021 Awards.

iiDENTIFii also won the KPMG Tech Innovator in Africa award this year and will go on to compete in the global event taking place in Lisbon, Portugal in November 2022.


Want to know more about African startups and new innovations on the continent? Check out our Innovation Hub here on Connecting Africa.


Fanaroff added that they are grateful for all the accolades that they have received as iiDENTIFii wants to get to a point where its technology helps fight identity fraud as well as fight human trafficking.

The company is also subjected to strict privacy laws by the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines.

Related posts:

*Top image is of iiDENTIFii CEO Gur Geva and CTO Marco Wagener. (Source: iiDENTIFii).

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub

Story

SA's Teraco to power data centers with 120MW solar plant

Teraco, the vendor-neutral data center provider, is planning the construction of a 120 megawatt (MW) utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) energy facility in the Free State province of South Africa.

Story

Botswana prohibits Starlink, imposes penalties for lawbreakers

The Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has warned the public against the importation, use and resale of SpaceX's satellite Internet service Starlink's devices in the country.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Upcoming events

Africa Tech Festival 2024
November 11-14, 2024
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Uber's Marjorie Saint-Lot on inclusion and sustainability in Africa

Uber's Country Manager for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Marjorie Saint-Lot, shares how the ride-hailing company is approaching public-private partnerships, environmentally friendly initiatives and gender inclusion in Africa.

Story

The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.

Story

Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

More Africa Tech perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: September 2023

By Omdia Analysts

Highlights in September 2023 in the Middle East and Africa included more 5G spectrum licenses, vendor and operator strategies, and partnerships – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

Story

Omdia View: August 2023

By Omdia Analysts

Highlights in August 2023 in the Middle East and Africa included a commercial 5G launch from Ethio Telecom and the signing of a virtual wheeling agreement between Vodacom South Africa and Eskom – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up
Tag id test-002