News Flash: Big Names Back Digital ID Start-Ups

SoftBank, Salesforce, Microsoft & PayPal make strategic investments in ID innovators

SoftBank Investment, Salesforce Ventures and M12 (formerly Microsoft Ventures) all participated in a US$50 million funding round for Onfido, a start-up that has developed an AI-based smartphone app to assess whether a user’s government-issued ID document is genuine or fraudulent. The user then takes a selfie or a short video, and Onfido’s technology compares their facial biometrics to the ID document using a “hybrid of AI and human experts” and provides a score indicating the likelihood of a match.

In an interview with TechCrunch, CEO Husayn Kassai said that Onfido has achieved sales growth of 342 per cent in the past year and has now verified “tens of millions” of IDs on behalf of 1,500 businesses, including Remitly, Zipcar and Europcar. Founded in London, the start-up now operates primarily out of San Francisco.

Meanwhile, PayPal participated in a Series A investment in Cambridge Blockchain, a Boston-based start-up seeking to give individuals control over their online identities. PayPal is exploring how it might use Cambridge Blockchain’s platform to let its users prove who they are while preventing personal information from being shared unnecessarily, according to a report by Forbes. Cambridge Blockchain is preparing to launch its first live product with LuxTrust, a firm backed by the Luxembourg government.

In an interview with Forbes, Cambridge Blockchain’s CEO, Matthew Commons: “We envision a future where users have a lot more direct control over their personal data, and we also believe in open, interoperable architectures…We want to get away from a world where people are really locked into one specific platform and are stuck with that.”

For more information, please see the TechCrunch report and the Forbes article.