You Can Now Verify Your Digital Identity Under 3 Minutes, Thanks To A SA Start Up

In 2016, South African identity solution firm ThisIsMe secures R37.4 million funding and sets sights on internationally expansion

By Staff Writer

A South African startup is simplifying the process to establish and verify the identities of clients.

This South African start-up ThisIsMe, which has innovation that’s “giving a heartbeat to your identity” is making it easy and affordable for corporates and clients to comply with the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment (FICA) Act 2017.

Conceptualised in 2013 and formally established in 2014, ThisIsMe verifies an individual’s identity to other individuals, businesses, financial institutions, and regulators. It does so using links to Home Affairs data and the major banks.

ThisIsMe has set an African record for the FICA process, which used to take anywhere from two days to two weeks.

The innovative startup has ensured that the process is now completed within three minutes.

In the past, clients typically had to provide simple information like proof of identity, address, and bank account but the new regulations require a more in-depth investigation to evaluate the risk of the client. Institutions need to check aspects such as whether their clients come from a higher risk country, the nature of their business relationships and connections to influential people like members of government.

Institutions need to take this very seriously – if they are proven to do business with a criminal client, the institution will be subject to legal action and fines (not just the client). ThisIsMe now offers solutions that allow accountable institutions the ability to be fully FICA compliant with each customer, within minutes.

“ThisIsMe has set a new African record for the compliance process known as Know Your Customer (KYC) and in doing so have also set a new record for the fastest FICA in South Africa,” said Mark Chirnside, CEO, ThisIsMe.

The more stringent, risk based FICA Act 2017 was signed into law, after much delay, in April 2017. The Act is more onerous on accountable institutions (AIs) slowing down the process and making it more expensive.

The key amendment is a shift from a rules-based approach to a risk-based approach in ensuring FICA compliance. This means that AIs must consider the potential risk involved with establishing a business relationship or concluding a single transaction with a client. The intention of the new regulations is to combat financial crimes such as money laundering, terrorist funding and fraud.

The process to establish and verify the identities of clients has largely been paper based with clients having to arrive at a bank branch, for instance, for face-to-face identification. This tedious process of FICA onboarding has increased costs for institutions to between R300 and R1500 for each client.


“ThisIsMe’s digital platform makes it faster, more cost effective and there are fewer errors. The entire process is completed digitally, with machine learning technology ensuring that documents aren’t tampered with,” Chirnside says.

“In addition, we are able to ensure that a client’s information is regularly updated and secured. With a client’s permission, we are able to verify that a client is indeed who they say they are.”

ThisIsMe solution and app, which is available on Apple and Android app stores, ‘conclusively’ proves that, not only are you who you say you are, but that you are still alive – assisting in preventing identity theft and other instances of fraud.

The startup also automate the compliance process known as Know Your Customer checks, improve onboarding, and increase revenue while providing an on-demand, seamless customer experience.

This startup is expanding into African and international markets and counts CompuScan, Investec, PaySoft, Sanlam, Silica and TrustLink, etc, as customers.

ThisIsMe was ranked one of the best global regtech companies by the CB Insights team in 2017.


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