Identity Verification finds a new use-case in Africa

Two decades ago, the only fancy functionality the most popular handsets in Africa had was the Tetris game. These days, a farmer can use them to check market prices before selling to middlemen, and market traders can accept mobile payments in a single step process. With more than 420 million unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa, the precise impact of mobile phones on economic growth is notoriously difficult to measure. The region continues to grow faster than any other region; by 2020 the total number of SIM connections will rise to nearly 1 billion.

Before the rise of mobile money, it was time-consuming and expensive for families in the Sub-Saharan Africa to share money. People would take two or three days off work and catch a bus a thousand kilometers to deliver fifty dollars and then come back. Being able to send and receive money using mobile transfer services like M-Pesa and Airtime has lifted 200,000 households in Kenya out of poverty, according to a study published in the journal Science. Nurses in Tanzania can now register births using a mobile phone, giving parents a birth certificate in a couple of days. With the spread and growing sophistication of the continent’s digital economy, it is likely that some aspects will need to be examined to yield implicit compliance. Take identity verification solutions, for instance.

The identification gap in Sub-Saharan Africa is acute even though governments, require mobile network operators (MNOs) to register the identity of their customers. With more than 400 million people across the continent lacking an official identity document, comes compounding challenges such as gaining access to mobile banking services and financial subsidies. This has resulted in the rise of identity fraud. As a result, the ability to verify the identity of a customer has become a catch-22 situations for MNOs.

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Here, traditional identity verification methods are subject to manual error and provide a frustrating customer experience. The transformative potential of digital and automated identity verification solution can accelerate the scale and reach of digital identities that empower citizens and stimulate economic and social growth.

Orange, France’s leading MNO, has greatly benefited from this approach to reduce fraud and the resulting financial ramifications. It introduced legacy scanners operated by sales assistant to securely connect to the Internet and automatically send the scanned identity documents to a secure server for instant verification. Upon verification, the sales assistants receive instant reports confirming the identity of the individual.

A robust identity verification solution can enable MNOs to streamline and digitize workflows, reduce manual entry and ensure that consumers get a smoother and faster onboarding experience. While there are a number of associated benefits of instant identity verification solutions, here we highlight the key ones:


MNOs offer customers a growing range of value-added services such as mobile payments, Internet of Things services, and peer-to-peer payment solutions. Using instant identity verification solutions, mobile operators in Africa can greatly benefit from a unique digital identity that covers all services. For instance, when existing customers decide to buy a new service, it can be done speedily using their digital identity without any additional inconvenience such as paperwork. Similarly, for all subsequent interactions, the digital identity can be used to authenticate the customer.


A powerful pre-built framework for instant identity verification would allow staff to focus on customer case rather than pending administrative tasks, helping to build stronger relationships. Moreover, real-time identity-verification would allow MNOs to save hundreds of hours every day complying with daily verification requests, and through improved personalization.


Since Orange introduced real-time identity verification tool, fraud in some stores was reduced by 100 percent. In some cases, performing identity verification in front of customers discouraged fraudsters from attempting identity theft.

A multi-channel identity verification solution can provide an opportunity for MNOs to position themselves as trusted partners. What’s key is that it will provide access that allows citizens in rural areas to participate in mobile transactions as those who live in developed countries.

The biggest challenge in the identity verification process, however, lies in the identification documents itself. Even though MNOs are in a much better position to tackle identity fraud, fraudsters are notoriously inventive and much harder to beat.

Experts at IDMERIT have spent years spotting fake documents in a quest to develop a smart intelligence system to verify the authenticity of an identity document. We are in regular touch with identity fraud experts and law enforcement agencies such as the border patrol, primarily to strengthen the security against fraudulent use of IDs.

IDMERIT’s live ID Scanning technology ‘IDMscan’ is available 24/7 and verifies government issued IDs from over 90+ countries. The ID scan application is capable of performing optical character recognition (OCR), face recognition, data recording, barcode reading and personal data verification. Depending on the type of document, the barcode data, holographic security features and ID photo along with the digital information stored on the identity document’s chip or magnetic stripe is run against pre-stored data on IDMscan’s database to verify IDs virtually and instantly. IDMscan is designed to save time and costs associated with Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements, increase customer conversions and reduce fraud.


IDMERIT is a global consumer and business verification portal. We help customers across industries and government sectors predict, assess, and manage risks by combining next-generation risk management and anti-fraud services. Our warehouse of unique data and advanced analytics tools to address evolving client needs can help you automate decision making while upholding the highest standards of security and privacy.

We work closely with world-class niche organizations offering data warehousing and validity of contact data solutions to ensure they are compliant with the Foreign Nationals Employment Act, the Compulsory Identification Act, Counter-Terrorism Act, and the Anti-Money Laundering Act. Our company powers the global identity ecosystem for customers.

For more information on IDMERIT’s identity verification services, you can drop us a line through the Contact Us page or call us at (888)-378-9283.

Jay Raol
Jay Raol

Jay Raol has been a Media Manager, Entrepreneur, Political Analyst and an Environmentalist. He aspires to climb the mighty Himalayas, and learn a new language every year. He lives in the beautiful city of Carlsbad in Southern California and owns a great collection of books. He is on schedule to publish his first book; 'Thou Art, Dope'. Co-founded two companies that provide futuristic solutions to the world while being quite enthusiastic about helping and investing in technology startups.

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