FlexID will get Algorand funding to supply self-sovereign IDs to Africa’s unbanked

A lot of the world’s consideration round blockchain is on the highs and lows of cryptocurrency values. Startups like FlexID remind us that distributed ledger expertise has the potential to play different roles, together with providing trusted information of identities with out the necessity for a centralized authority.

One in all the startups working in the direction of this imaginative and prescient is Zimbabwe’s FlexID, which is constructing a blockchain-based id system for these excluded from the banking system on account of their lack of id paperwork. FlexID’s thought has received it funding from Algorand, a blockchain protocol created by Turing Award-winning cryptographer Silvio Mical. The 2 events didn’t disclose the scale of the funding.

African international locations have made nice strides in selling monetary inclusion over the previous decade, however it’s nonetheless early days. Greater than 60% of adults in sub-Saharan Africa are unbanked, based on World Financial institution estimates for 2021.

A number of years in the past the numbers had been starker. In Zimbabwe, as an example, solely 30% of the grownup inhabitants had entry to any monetary companies as of 2014. The variety of financial institution accounts within the nation stood at 1.5 million in 2016.

There’s a normal conception that growing entry to monetary companies in a rustic results in enchancment in folks’s financial welfare. And that’s what the Zimbabwean authorities sought to perform when it launched a monetary inclusion scheme from 2016 to 2020.

The hassle achieved some success: the proportion of the Zimbabwean grownup inhabitants with entry to monetary companies elevated to 55% whereas the variety of financial institution accounts rose to eight.5 million in 2020.

Nonetheless, there’s nonetheless loads of work to be achieved on this regard. When folks have little or no confidence within the economic system, or they don’t know sure monetary companies that meet their wants exist or they don’t have formal identification paperwork to hunt these companies, attaining optimum monetary inclusion can show herculean.

These are points that have an effect on Africa and rising markets, not only Zimbabwe. FlexID’s self-sovereign id (SSI) platform takes a decentralized method and provides customers management over their private info — not frequent in Africa the place different upstarts present centralized options, reminiscent of Smile Id, YC-backed Identitypass and Dojah.

With funding from Algorand, FlexID goals to make its decentralized id community accessible in rising markets the place over one billion persons are estimated to lack formal identification, the startup mentioned in an announcement. Zimbabwean serial entrepreneur Victor Mapunga based FlexID in 2018 out of his frustration with the banking system.

FlexID is giving customers a blockchain pockets that shops their verificable credentials. Verification is completed on-chain by Algorand, which payments itself as an answer to the blockchain trilemma of safety, scalability, and decentralization. FlexID can even be integrating with different Algorand decentralized apps (dApps).

FlexID’s funding from Algorand comes at a time when African blockchain startups are pulling in large sums from buyers. A current report mentioned over 40 African blockchain startups raised a complete of $127 million in 2021. This yr has already seen some eye-popping investments reminiscent of Mara’s $23 million seed spherical from buyers like crypto alternate giants Coinbase and FTX.

Although FlexID gives service within the id house, the overarching sector its resolution and most blockchain platforms fall below is fintech. Firms like FlexID are decreasing folks’s dependency on money and remittance charges by way of crypto, decreasing limitations to establishing an account by way of crypto wallets, and addressing the continent’s documentation problem.

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