April 23, 2024

When it comes to proving who you are, you can trust the experts at Smile Identity. It makes a system that can be used by mobile apps for facial recognition and ID verification by giving them software development kits (SDKs) and application programming interfaces (APIs) (APIs). The organization also offers analytics dashboards to make sure that customer data is correct.

Since 2017, they’ve been driven by the idea that every African should be able to quickly and easily prove who they are, no matter where they are. Mark Straub, one of their co-founders, went to India and saw how hard it was to show enough identification.

Later, when he was traveling around Africa with a backpack, he had the same thing happen. He saw a chance to make it easy for Africans all over the world to prove their identity while Aadhar was still in its early stages in India. To do this, they must first find out who they are as a Smile.

They are now making software and hardware that will make it much easier for hundreds of millions of Africans to check their identity online. Their AI and identity verification systems are 99.8% accurate and were made with African facial features in mind.

Chipper Cash, Paga, Paystack, Twiga, Opay, and many more businesses in Africa that are growing quickly use their platform.

Their Smilers come from all over the world and live in 11 different countries and 18 different time zones. Even though they all work in different places, they have many professional and social chances to talk to each other.

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They can look at the problems they are trying to solve from many different points of view because they have people from all over the world on their staff.

Additionally, their motivation comes from the fact that they want to change the way Africa checks people’s IDs.

How it Works

Biometric Authentication

When you use biometric authentication, you can be sure that users are who they say they are during log-ins and secure transactions. This makes your platform safer and makes fraud less likely. Account takeovers are the most common type of online fraud, so making sure that only trustworthy users can use your platform protects you from them.

Customer Onboarding

New users of your platform expect the onboarding process to be easy and quick. Ninety percent of customers think that firms should improve how they bring new customers on board. Using Smile Identity’s verification platform, you can keep fraudsters out of your system while still meeting your KYC requirements, which will lead to a better experience for your customers.

Document Verification

Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, you can read the KYC information printed on government-issued IDs to verify them. In addition to security and forgery checks, their document verification technology compares the ID papers to a library of official documents.

Fraud Detection & Prevention

As more businesses have moved online, cybercrime and cyber fraud have grown. If you can find fraud and stop it before it does any damage to your platform, the fraudsters will have been defeated. Smile Identity lets you offer a safe and reliable platform to your customers.

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KYC Compliance

Less loose Know Your Customer requirements are being put in place because digital service delivery is becoming more important. If you want to stay above these laws, you need a partner who can help you follow the rules not just now, but also in the future.


Mark Straub

Mark Straub:
CEO, Smile Identity

Mark Straub took over as CEO of Smile Identity in 2017. Since Mark switched from investment banking to micro-lending in 2006, he has been a strong believer that market-based solutions can help fight global poverty.

When Mark joined Lok Capital in New Delhi, he was the first American to work for the company and one of the first people to join. He was a big part of Lok’s first big investment in Spandana, and he started a program for fellows to help the company’s portfolio.

Mark’s most recent job was with the $300 million Draper Fisher Jurvetson Growth Fund, which invests in market-leading technologies. The fund has a staff of six people.

Mark put money into companies like TrialPay, Gilt Groupe, Admob, betaworks (bit.ly), TremorVideo, Tesla Motors, BrightSource Energy, Silverspring Networks, and SpaceX while he was at DFJ. 

These companies are changing e-commerce, consumer media, clean technology, and aerospace aviation.

Mark Straub studied at the University of Virginia.

William Bares

William Bares:
Co-Founder, former CTO at Smile Identity.

William Bares is the Co-founder & CTO at Smile Identity.

William Bares studied at the City University of New York.

Investors & Funding Rounds

ValueStream Ventures, Susa Ventures, Story Ventures, Intercept Ventures, 500 Startups

Venture capitalists from Silicon Valley and angel investors from Africa each put in $4 million.

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Since it was founded, the company has spent more than $4 million building an identification platform that can recognize and verify the identities of more than 200 million people in Africa.

Smile Identity has registered and checked more than 300,000 people for a dozen African companies in a wide range of fields, such as financial services, security guards, and motorbike taxis.

At town hall meetings in Lagos and Nairobi that Smile Identity co-hosted with TechPoint and the LawyersHub, people talked about how data protection laws are changing and how global investors are becoming more interested in African Fintech.

Main Competitors

Even.com: This is the most trusted on-demand payment platform, and it is changing the way businesses get paid so that more people can have the financial freedom to pursue their passions.

SimpleNexus: It focuses on making software for the real estate business. Their platform makes it easier for loan officers, borrowers, real estate agents, and settlement companies to talk to each other.

Oriente: It is building a new digital financial services infrastructure so that poor people in Asia can get access to economic opportunities.


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