Smile Identity Raises $20 Million in Series B  

by Kay Aloha Villamor in February 20th, 2023

Smile Identity, a South Africa-based startup that enables ID verification and KYC compliance through artificial intelligence (AI) designed for African faces and identities, secured a $20 million Series B funding round to help it expand across the continent.

The round was led by Costanoa and Norrsken22, with participation from Commerce Ventures, Courtside Ventures, Two Culture Capital, Valuestream Ventures, Intercept Ventures, Latitude, Future Africa, and 500 Fintech.

Smile Identity will use the funding to expand its product and engineering team, accelerating the development and specialization of its AI-powered biometrics, document verification, anti-fraud and compliance solutions tailored for African markets. 

The company is growing its existing teams in East, West, and Southern Africa and completing its pan-African reach with plans to enter Francophone and Arab-speaking markets through localized sales and support. 

In addition, the company will continue working closely with regulators and ID authorities to build consumer consent standards into software, enforce African data protection laws, and share data on fraud and financial inclusion trends. 

“We believe the majority of people are honest,” said Mark Straub, CEO and co-founder of Smile Identity. “The challenge in the digital age is to prove this, regardless of how a user onboards – whether via agents, apps, tablets, the web, blockchains or paper forms. We are thrilled to have the support of our partners and investors as we solve this problem across IDs, devices and compliance regimes to ensure Africans are among the most trusted consumers in the world.”

Smile Identity works with local ID authorities and has built a platform that combines ID validation with proprietary face verification and liveness checks to support non-surveillance, consent-based access, and financial inclusion. 

Lexi Novitske from Norrsken22 will join Smile Identity’s board as part of the round.

Company: Smile Identity, Inc.

Raised: $20.0M

Round: Series B

Funding Month: February 2023

Lead Investors: Costanoa and Norrsken22

Additional Investors: Commerce Ventures, Courtside Ventures, Two Culture Capital, Valuestream Ventures, Intercept Ventures, Latitude, Future Africa, and 500 Fintech

Company Website:

Software Category: ID Verification and KYC Compliance

About the Company: Smile Identity provides solutions for real-time digital KYC, identity verification, user onboarding, document verification, liveness checks, face verification, anti-fraud, know your business (KYB), and identity data deduplication across Africa. Its artificial intelligence and identity verification tools have been specially designed for African faces. Smile Identity has now completed an estimated 50 million KYC and identity verification checks for hundreds of clients, solidifying our position as Africa’s experts in digital identity. The company has integrations with more ID databases and provides compliance and anti-fraud solutions in banking, lending, payments, remittances, cryptocurrency, and the shared economy. Its technology is used by fast-growing companies in a wide range of industries across Africa, including Chipper Cash, Paga, Paystack, Twiga, Opay, and many more.


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