Founded in December 2016 by Jonathan Dela Ayivor and Paul Damalie, the firm focuses on “connecting unbanked Africans to the global economy through a single identity verification API” by building platforms that allow financial institutions, and developers to reach out to their most remotely located customers.
Paul’s days at Ecobank, one of Africa’s largest banks, saw him witnessing one out of every three customers who applied for a bank account turned away due to lack of identification.
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“At the time, there was very little you could do about it and at that point, I didn’t understand the problem in that sense. I just thought of it, well, it’s just the situation. It just happens” – he relates.
The impacts of identification verification became a lot more pronounced to Paul, after he left Ecobank and started running a mobile loyalty app company called Loystar when customers wanting to redeem their reward from a loyalty program faced challenges in verifying their identity as there was no proper identity verification infrastructure in place.
Paul started spending time with industry leaders to understand the technical challenges around identity verification, in order to figure out a solution to the lack of identity verification infrastructure in Africa.
However, it would take a personal experience for Paul and his co-founder, Jonathan Ayivor, to actually start developing a product to solve the problem.
The inspiration took place late one night outside a club in Ghana. Paul and Jonathan who were both of age went out for a drink. Now here’s the catch: while Paul looks of age, Jonathan doesn’t. And there was no way to prove that he was of age — no trusted identity verification system. The lack of trust in Ghana’s national ID system and the in-person registration process for ID cards has compromised the success of this attempt at identity verification.
“I mean, you can show your card, but people don’t trust it. You need a system that people trust to prove you are who you say because right now, it’s left to the discretion of whoever is at the door” – Paul commented.
Having worked together on multiple projects before — including the POS system for one of the biggest food retail chains in Ghana, they began developing what is now Inclusive Financial Technologies, an identity verification API that works to onboard, verify, and monitor financial institution’s most remote customers through USSD, mobile and web channels.
“Now more than ever is the time to focus on building the infrastructure so that many innovators can build all kinds of financial services on the top of that underlying digital infrastructure for Africa,” Paul said.
And together with Jonathan, he’s doing just that with Inclusive Financial Technologies.
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