Veridium launches partnership and pilot to deliver financial services to underserved populations

Veridium has announced a partnership with South Africa-based financial services platform Wala to provide universal and affordable financial services to countries with emerging economies in Africa, beginning with a pilot program in sub-Saharan Africa.

Wala is a blockchain-powered platform for people without access to adequate financial services, and the company will collaborate with Veridium to deliver accessible, zero-fee banking to consumers via biometric authentication technology on unmodified Android smartphones. Veridium’s biometric authentication technology is expected to work in developing nations because it is compatible with Android phone models up to ten years old, according to the announcement.

The pilot is funded by a previously reported grant Veridium was awarded by the Digital Financial Services (DFS) Innovation Lab, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Previous methods to deliver financial services to the underserved have had limited success because they relied on traditional banking methods, often requiring physical access to bank branches and onerous identity requirements, the companies said in a statement.

Wala partners with microfinancing organizations to sign up for services and perform transactions through a mobile app which connects to the Wala platform, providing an intermediary between customers and banks.

“Like Wala, we are building solutions that are easy to use but solve complicated problems, so we are thrilled to be partnering with them to bring access to financial services to the unbanked and underbanked,” said James Stickland, CEO, Veridium. “Using Veridium’s 4 Fingers TouchlessID to securely enroll and authenticate this population, Wala will be able to deploy their vision to scale. We’re excited to be on the ground with them through this pilot to prove out a model that can positively impact billions worldwide.”

In addition to enrolling and authenticating customers with 4 Fingers TouchlessID, which Veridium says captures prints with equivalent quality to traditional flatbed scanners with only the rear camera and flash of a smartphone, Wala will use the VeridiumID platform to manage and store sensitive biometric data.

The pilot project is expected to begin in January 2018, and its finding presented at the Gates Foundation conference in February.

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