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Our priority is to ensure that digital businesses are secure and safe on the internet- Ogungbe

Prembly merges with Kenyan KYC firm to enhance global data

Lanre Ogungbe is the Founder/CEO Identitypass Prembly, which won the Fastest Growing KYC & Verification Company Award during the 2022 NBLA Awards organised by BusinessDay. In this interview with TELIAT SULE, he identified the factors that got Identitypass noticed for the award. Excerpts:

What is Identitypass by Prembly all about? For how long has it been in business?

Identitypass by Prembly is Africa’s leading verification, compliance, and security infrastructure company which has been in existence since 2020. We offer the ultimate KYC and Compliance experience across Africa, helping businesses verify, gain deeper insights about customers, detect and prevent fraud using data directly from authentic issued identifiers and AI-powered technology.

Your firm recently won the Fastest Growing KYC & Verification Company Award. What does this award mean to your firm, and what unique product or service did your firm introduce that got you noticed?

The NBLA has a long history of highlighting the best companies in the country, and for us, this means we are on the right track to championing the next growth phase for other African businesses. It also helps us cement our commitment to providing simple yet effective verification tools/solutions to digital businesses across the globe.

In terms of unique products, we have quite a number of them. One major one with the highest coverage is our document verification endpoint, which allows businesses to verify over 6500 documents across hundreds of countries and regions. There are also others, including our facial authentication technology which has one of the fastest accuracy rates in Africa.

How big is the verification services industry in Nigeria relative to other leading African economies?

The verification industry in Nigeria is still relatively new, even though we’ve witnessed an incredible increase in the need for verifications by other sectors and gradually the introduction of more and more verification service providers. Dealing with customers’ data is an enormous task.

Banks, fintech, e-mobility service providers, crypto spaces, and many other sectors are gearing up to the fact that keeping their customers and businesses safe online requires leveraging digital verification services like Identitypass. The verification ecosystem is gradually meeting up with other leading African economies.

What role is technology playing in that sector, and how can Nigeria catch up?

Technology makes up digital identification. From enrollment to verification, validation, and other types of verification such as biometrics, data, document, behavioral, social data, and a lot more. Literally, every verification process and product built involves the huge use of technology. From making it easy for people to secure a digital identifier and reusing the identifier. Our technologies cut across the mix of Artificial technologies, biometrics, and data matching. We converted these into APIs so our customers can easily plug it into their existing software/apps.

This is in a bid to keeping the end-users’ customers’ data safe and secure, as we can guarantee the encryption and how the APIs are used. It is important to stress that digital verification is built to make the customer onboarding process for businesses seamless and ultimately prevent fraud while ensuring compliance with various local and global regulations. With the use of AI-powered technology such as Biometric authentication, among others, digital verification has significantly cut down the onboarding time and workload and help businesses scale faster into emerging markets.

Nigerian businesses are catching up well with global KYC/KYB practices as we now have many Nigerian-owned apps adopting multiple user verification technologies and prioritizing the importance of digital verification services for their day-to-day activities. Quite a good number of businesses are already integrating digital KYC / KYB checks in their onboarding processes. More needs to come onboard as the benefits are numerous.

What are the sector’s challenges, and how are industry players surmounting them?

So, there are some major challenges faced in the identity verification space as far as Africa is concerned. The first is that many Africans still lack a valid means of identification, which means it is quite difficult to verify their identities through government-approved identifiers. However, with biometrics, which mainly allows verification through an individual’s physical attributes, the identification gap in Africa has a potent solution.

Secondly, keeping up with the ever-changing compliance regulations from different countries can also be another major challenge. Data protection has to be in line with a government’s requirement, and periodic and sudden changes occur in these requirements, making it quite difficult to keep up with all these regulations. At Identitypass, we are always ahead of the uncertainties in the data protection and compliance space. This is credited to our various licenses and certifications and being members of reputable compliance organizations such as OSIA.

Read also: How 38m unbanked Nigerians can join digital economy

What is the impact of government regulation on industry players?

In the past year and more, we’ve witnessed some periodic and sudden changes in data collection and verification processes; a suitable and recent example is the introduction of virtual NINs by the Nigerian government. These new developments mandate stakeholders to quickly make a switch in their operations, and sometimes this can cause some minor distortion in the normal flow, leading to customers dropping off your platform.

There are still other changes that different governments will announce. However, one major way we have been able to tackle this is by working closely with regulators and ensuring we also assist them in best global practices around digital identities. Just like government agencies, our priority is to ensure people are secure and safe on the internet across Africa.

What is the outlook for the sector in 2023 and beyond?

Undoubtedly, the verification sector has witnessed significant growth over the past two to five years. In 2023, certain new developments will be introduced into the verification space. Of course, there will be more fraudulent activities and more sophisticated means of committing online fraud by internet bad actors, so these require that the verification space will need to develop and deploy more stringent methods of verifying identities online.

More emphasis will also be placed on compliance, as we have recently seen how some big businesses had a huge hit of compliance fines due to missing out on certain compliance requirements. This means more businesses will prioritize KYC compliance better than they used to.

There will also be changes to government regulations and systems on data and privacy protection. This will require stakeholders in the identity verification space to quickly develop cushioning strategies to alleviate these new developments.

Overall, the identity verification space will continue to witness growth, and more African businesses will become enlightened to the fact that they need to implement digital identity verification solutions.