Data Science Investment Counter —Funding raised by UK data science companies in 2018.
£ 5.640 Million

Softbank’s AI fund to invest in British ID checking start-up Onfido

Tokyo-based financial services giant SBI Holdings is considering an investment in British identity start-up Onfido, The Sunday Telegraph revealed yesterday.

According to the paper, this would be the first time for a UK company to receive funding from SBI’s new artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain division.

SBI, which is a spin-off from technology investing powerhouse Softbank Group, has recently poured £341 million ($450m) into a new AI investing fund.

Onfido was founded in 2012 by Oxford students Ruhul Amin, Husayn Kassai, and Eamon Jubbawy. The trio built upon a technology Amin had designed for his university thesis: a computer vision tool able to spot wildlife in the jungle. The company then started using their proprietary machine learning technology for identity verification and background checks.

Talking to SHACK15 in 2017, Onfido CEO Husayn Kassai had mentioned how “the current process of identity verification is a big issue for underbanked and unbanked people.

“It’s also an insecure process,” he had added, “almost two trillion dollars every year are laundered as a result of identity frauds.”

Since then, the company has quickly grown thanks to its online verification technology, which is now used by fintech companies and banks, including Monzo and Revolut. Onfido currently has offices in London, San Francisco, New York and New Delhi.

At the end of 2017, the 150-employee company raised £22 million in a Series C round led by Crane Venture Partners and backed by Microsoft Ventures, and Salesforce Ventures. Onfido has so far raised about £45 million ($60.3m) in seven investment rounds.

On that occasion, Kassai has commented by saying that “As identity verification technology continues to evolve, it will become the key to remotely unlocking a huge range of products globally, from banking and travel services through to voting and healthcare.”

At the date of writing, Onfido declined to comment on a potential investment by SBI Holdings.


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