Anonybit raises $3.5M to relieve biometrics providers of sensitive data storage
To hear Anonybit Co-founder Frances Zelazny tell it, the company’s $3.5 million funding round is just one in a series of carefully calculated steps towards revolutionizing the biometrics industry, online digital identity, and much of the internet.
It could also be viewed as the culmination of a series of votes of confidence for a privacy and security-preserving technology for biometrics and other sensitive data based on multi-party computation and zero-knowledge proofs.
“When you’re developing something like Anonybit, everything is invisible by definition,” Zelazny explains in an interview with Biometric Update. “And the demo is a facial match.”
Zelazny’s co-founders are Yaron Azizi, a veteran of the Israeli Defence Force’s 8200 unit and BioCatch platform design architect, and Shaked Vax, former Trusteer product manager and market innovation lead.
The funding round was led by Switch Ventures, with participation from NextGen Venture Partners, Industry Ventures, Preceptor Capital, and strategic angel investors.
Zelazny described Anonybit’s three-part vision of no data breaches, trustworthy identity without resort to passwords or knowledge-based authentication, and trustworthy stewardship for consumers’ data in an interview at the beginning of the company’s journey last year.
The company has long-term ambitions, but for now Zelazny is focused on “putting the building blocks together.”
Anonybit has also established an advisory board with impressive business leaders, experts in privacy and startup incubation, and BioCatch Co-founder Avi Turgmen.
The product suite
The past year for Anonybit was about taking an innovative technology and productizing it for actual use by partners and customers.
Anonybit knew its solution to the industry’s data privacy and security challenges, Zelazny says, needed to work with any modality, and support non-biometric assets (such as private keys and backup passwords). It needed to do so while meeting data residency requirements, and enabling different kinds of organizations, like those that require on-premise or cloud hosting.
The result was three products, each serving different customer groups.
Anonybit’s Decentralized Identity Cloud is the back-end product it is providing to FacePhi to bring Privacy-by-Design storage to its onboarding solution. It can be used by any biometric algorithm provider to remove the burden of storing complete templates.
The Turnkey Authentication product provides the authentication capability for secure online storage provider DropVault. The product includes biometric matching, liveness, decent storage, and integration, and can be used with an onboarding solution to add biometric authentication. Zelazny sees this product, announced along with the funding round, being deployed by customers in the banking and healthcare sectors.
“You’re getting all the benefits of FIDO without the restrictions of bring-you-own-device,” Zelazny explains.
The Digital Asset Vault is being used by password manager Abine for decentralized storage of master passwords, so that if Abine’s own customer database is breached, the data found will be indecipherable.
Each of the three products reached the market this year with a partner or customer. “This is really the big achievement of 2021; that validation,” Zelazny says.
The potential to serve a variety of use cases with distributed private key storage or a decentralized biometrics cloud, Zelazny says, has a lot of legs, both within the digital identity industry and beyond.
“The truth is actually its all the same product,” she confesses. “It’s just different aspects of the capability that we go to market with.”
The year ahead
The funds will be used by Anonybit to hire talent on the sales and marketing and development sides of the business and to enhance its network to accommodate scale.
“On the product roadmap are things that relate to accelerating implementation, things that have to do with addressing additional use cases.”
Market penetration and sales will be the top priorities for 2022, strengthening its partner channel and
Zelazny plans for the company to reach “concrete milestones” in 2022, which will become apparent as each step is announced.
The pitch to other biometrics and digital identity providers is clear: partner up to protect sensitive data or extend your services.
“I want the industry to join me on this journey. We have an opportunity to actually solve the problem around privacy and security- together,” Zelazny says.
“When the customer says ‘where are the templates stored?’ give them a real answer.”