Onfido raises $30M for AI-based face ID recognition technology
This latest round was led by new investor Crane Venture Partners, with participation from Microsoft Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and other unnamed but existing backers.
The company’s technology helps websites verify users’ identities using a photo-based identity document, a selfie and artificial intelligence algorithms.
Onfido, which is not disclosing its valuation in this round, initially launched in 2012 with a focus on providing authentication solutions for background checks on behalf of on-demand businesses.
The startup has been slowly shifting its focus in the past year to financial services and e-commerce, providing identity checks for businesses in these verticals. Onfido currently has about 1,500 customers including Square, Revolut and Zipcar.
Onfido’s solution matches standard identity documents (recognizing about 600 formats including drivers’ licenses from dozens of countries, passports, identity cards and more) with a “selfie” on the user’s phone.
Users are then prompted to follow instructions for two or three different actions, such as a blink, a smile, saying a sequence of numbers or glancing over their shoulder.
The solution analyzes the user’s responses to these commands to ensure that they are not using a static photo, as well as to compare their face in the selfie to the photo on the ID card, while also running the ID card check at the same time.
The algorithms then generate a risk report for the user, assessing whether the images match, or to flag when the user is not the same person displayed in the photo of the document.
The system then sends the data to the company requesting the checks, both “compatible” checks and those that are flagged for additional checks.
“From our point of view, in Europe, Onfido is one of the leading data enterprise companies at the moment, and they are spending a lot of money right now to continue investing into tech and product, with one of the best machine learning teams that we have come across,” said Scott Sage, co-founder of Crane Venture Partners.
Even with revenues increasing five-fold in the last year, Onfido CEO Husayn Kassai still believes that 95 percent of the market is largely untapped in terms of using newer technologies like Onfido’s.
Though the company’s core focus is the U.K., U.S. and India, Onfido plans to expand into Latin America with a focus in Brazil and Mexico.
Kassai is also looking at other potential areas to apply its technology in the future.
“We think the future for us is in new applications and new use cases rather than new features,” Kassai said. “Look at voting, for making payments with your face. The main barrier in these has been really accurate facial recognition, but it won’t be in the future.”