Passbase seizes $ 3.6 million to fuel privacy-preserving online identity checks – TechCrunch

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Digital Identity Startup Passbase closed a $ 3.6 million funding round, led by Cowboy Ventures and Eniac Ventures, with participation from Seedcamp and other European investors.

The 2018-founded startup won a $ 600,000 pre-seed round earlier this year for its full-stack identity engine with a touch of privacy.

Final round of funding will continue to grow the team and sales channels in the US and Europe, said co-founder Mathias Klenk. “Our goal is to build an API-driven business, so it is essential to create a strong foundation organization so that we can fully focus on securing partnerships with complementary services,” he told TechCrunch .

“By the end of next year, we aim to roll out our consumer application so that individuals can leverage the core value proposition of our service and businesses can reap the rewards of seamless re-authentication.” , he adds. In terms of customers, our goal is to move upmarket and lead pilots with some of the biggest players in our target segment. “

Passbase launched an open beta in May and conducted testing over the summer, according to Klenk, who says aAbout 15 companies are actively testing the platform, claiming that more than 300 companies have “expressed interest” in the product.

Previous testers come from industries such as healthcare, odd-job economics and mobility, with “exciting use cases underway, from recruiting to financial services soon to be launched,” according to Klenk.

What is the product? Passbase nicknames it “Stripe for Identity Verification,” which means it offers APIs to allow developers to easily plug in and integrate a range of user-friendly identity checks into their digital services. Such as selfie video scans and ID document scanning. (Passbase itself connects to ID verification services from a range of partners, supplemented by add-ons like a vitality check.)

It touts “NIST-certified facial recognition, forensic ID authenticity analysis, and patent-pending zero knowledge sharing architecture” as part of its stack.

The overall goal is to later become a trusted intermediary exchange between businesses and end users – aka a “consent layer” – by creating a development platform to support the integration of verification technologies into. web services, while – on the consumer side – allowing the web to allow users to limit who has access to their actual data. Hence the promise of privacy.

“Our vision is to build an open identity system that encourages services to hold less information, while being confident of the quality of the output they receive,” adds Klenk.

Consumers can submit personal data to verify their identity, such as a facial biometric scan and ID document scan through their webcam, without having to rely on their data being exposed and potentially mismanaged by non-specialists. Instead, they need to trust the technology architecture of Passbase. .

It also plans to launch a (free) consumer app early next year that will allow end users to control what information they share for identity verification and will also provide insight into how it is used. . give people “a holistic view and analysis of their online data exposure,” as Klenk puts it.

Although it does not require such active participation from end users, to “claim their digital identity” by downloading its app.

“Our goal is to integrate your digital identity into the verification flow,” he says, adding: “If you don’t care enough about your digital footprint, you don’t have to claim your digital identity and can proceed through a transactional relationship like with any other identity verification provider. However, with a combination of your biometrics and unique identifier, we have the first building blocks for creating a universal digital identity.

Klenk says he expects access management and account recovery to become an important area for Passbase because – or, well, if – consumers embrace his idea of ​​a “verified digital identity” that they want. can control.

“As for companies that accept this, there are of course network effects at play,” he continues. “That being said, identity works like a stack and if we can successfully link the root identity to additional credentials (through partnerships) such as background checks, credit scores, etc., it It would be difficult to convey the use of such a system, so ultimately it comes down to who can offer the most complete solution.

There is abundant and growing competition in the digital identity management space – including for privacy-protecting connections, now Apple has its skin in the game – so Passbase certainly has its work cut out for it. ground. Although it targets more comprehensive identity checks, arguing that a username and password are inadequate for most of the authentication checks that digital services now require, given that there are today ‘hui a platform to connect you to just about anyone, whether they are a healthcare professional, babysitter, taxi driver, cleaner, delivery driver or potential life partner.

Klenk says that Passbase’s defensible “comes from the B2B2C approach whereby we create a useful service for businesses from day one, while enabling data ownership for consumers to create a safer and more respectful digital future. of privacy ”.

It also has patents pending in the United States.

“For some incumbents in the market, it is complicated to completely change the business model, while for new competitors, it comes down to the operating model and execution,” he also explains of the landscape. competitive.

If Passbase can make their full-stack stick stick, the plan is to monetize through the development platform where they will offer companies their first 50 checks for free.

“Next, our pricing includes platform access fees combined with a cost per check. The reason is that as we build more and more modules (verification of identity documents, phone number, residence address, email, work permit) we plan to evolve towards a SaaS model, offering businesses all kinds of identification services at a predictable cost, ”he says. “That’s why our pricing also reflects a lower variable cost and higher subscription fees, as volumes increase. “

A self-service b2b product will launch next month, which means any business will be able to leverage Passbase APIs and integrate their verification service. The mainstream application will naturally follow later.

“For the consumer, the product will always be free because we believe that the data should be returned and belong to the consumers,” adds Klenk.


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