For many financial institutions in Southeast Asia, verifying new customers takes a week or two, said the founders of Verihubs. The startup cuts that time down to as little as five seconds, using AI-based identity authentication technology and APIs that let companies continue verifying returning customers through SMS, WhatsApp or flash calls.
Verihubs announced it has raised $2.8 million in seed funding for its goal of becoming "the one-stop for verification in Southeast Asia." The round was led by Insignia Venture Partners, with participation from CCV (Central Capital Ventura, the investment arm of Bank Central Asia, the largest privately-owned bank in Indonesia), and Armand Ventures. The round also includes angel investors from notable Southeast Asian startups like Shipper co-founder Budi Handoko; Payfazz co-founders Jefriyanto and Ricky Winata; Gotrade co-founder Rohit Mulani; BukuWarung founder Chinmay Chauhan; and Modalku ex-chief product officer Pramodh Rai.
The startup recently finished taking part in Y Combinator’s summer 2021 batch and says it is the first YC-backed AI startup from Indonesia.
Based in Jakarta, Verihubs was founded in 2019 by Rick Firnando, who has more than nine years of experience in the B2B industry, and Williem Williem, an AI researcher who holds a PhD in computer vision from South Korea’s Inha University. The company currently has 46 customers, including major banks and fintechs, and the founders say it is on track to hit 100 customers soon. While most of its current clients are in the financial space, Verihubs technology can also be used for e-commerce, rental marketplaces and hospitality (one of its clients is a hotel that uses Verihubs for its check-in process).
Before adopting Verihubs, many of its clients were still verifying customers manually, said Firnando. Verihubs serves as an end-to-end verification solution, “because integrating with multiple vendors is painful for developers to do,” he added. That is why it enables clients to perform KYC (know your customer), offers phone number verification using WhatsApp or SMS and also verifies customers’ financial data.
When end users log onto an app that uses Verihubs for the first time, they are prompted to take a selfie and then upload a photo of a government-issued photo ID. Then Verihubs AI-based technology compares the two photos to see if they match, and also cross-references the ID with telecom credit scores and Indonesian government databases, including criminal records.
Verihubs serves two kinds of end users — those who have traditional bank accounts and “unbanked” people. The startup’s new investment from Central Capital Ventura will help it develop its services for users with bank accounts, since it will be able to partner with BCA to access their customers’ data. For unbanked users, Firnando said Verihubs is working closely with Payfazz, which lets customers deposit money with local agents to use for online payments, and BukuWarung, a bookkeeping app for SMEs, to access transaction data.
The startup’s product pipeline also includes building its own credit scores, based on data like transactions and account balances. Verihubs is currently focused on Indonesia, with plans to expand into other Southeast Asia markets eventually.
“For the ID verification system, we found that there is already a product-market fit in Indonesia, but we would like to expand into new products,” Firnando said. “We consolidate financial data from multiple sources, not only for banks, but also unbanked populations. And we’re also exploring expanding into new markets, like the Philippines and Vietnam.”