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First AML raises $21M for global expansion of biometric verification in Series B

First AML raises $21M for global expansion of biometric verification in Series B

New Zealand-based anti-money laundering firm First AML, which also provides biometric identity verification, has raised NZ$30 million (US$21.4 million) in Series B funding led by its own customer, Blackbird Ventures, with support from Headline Ventures and existing investors Pushpay Founder Eliot Crowther, Icehouse Ventures, and also again from U.S.-based Bedrock Capital, which led the company’s Series A last year.

The firm has digitized the onboarding process for business clients in addition to individual end users. It is creating a growing network of verified firms and individuals. With a client’s consent, these records can be accessed immediately, which is the case for 25 percent of all checks. The service is effectively performing due diligence for clients on other firms or deals by automating identity verification of customers.

The platform includes biometric identification for remote verification and visual tools to give an overview of complex company structures.

First AML expanded into Australia this year where it already has more than 15 staff and plans to use part of the funding to continue this move with eight new hires by year end and also expand into the UK, Europe and Singapore. The firm wants to double its team worldwide from 90 to 180 by the end of 2022.

“We know that customer due diligence is a time consuming and intrusive process for your clients, and it can be very hard to get right as a reporting entity,” wrote First AML Co-founder and CEO Milan Cooper in a blog post about the funding.

“We’ve raised this money so we can keep innovating, and build a solution for a very tricky and mundane problem that affects reporting entities across the globe.”

First AML is targeting law firms, real estate agents, accountants and other sectors such as financial services providers which have to perform due diligence but for whom it is a major undertaking.

Commenting on the funding, Cooper said, “First AML’s customers love our solution and it’s proving to be the best approach to streamlining customer due diligence. The market for AML has grown nearly 20 percent in the past year to US$214 billion – there is a massive global market opportunity for us now.

“With groundbreaking investigations around tax havens and money laundering across multiple countries, the AML compliance regime is now shifting to non-financial businesses globally.”

Leading the Series B is Sydney-based Blackbird Ventures, a customer of the platform for several years. Blackbird Partner Samantha Wong, who is also joining the board at First AML, said, “Blackbird heavily relies on First AML. That is partly what is special about this deal – how intimately connected we are to the customer pain point, our love for the product roadmap, and the network effect beginning to emerge in the product and business model.”

In September 2020, First AML raised $5.4 million in Series A funding ahead of the planned release of a new version of its platform with enhanced biometric identification for remote verification. The firm has now verified 350,000 entities onto its platform on behalf of more than 300 customers.

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