Nigeria’s Prembly is building security products for emerging markets businesses

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Not many in the African startup space will have heard of Prembly, which is best known for its Y Combinator-selected Identitypass product. But the company is much more than just one service.

Formed in 2021 when it commercialised Identitypass, a digital verification product, Prembly formalised as a parent company late last year after recognising the need for expansion beyond KYC, biometrics, and data verification.

This move was prompted by the increasing customer demand for enhanced digital security services and the need to bridge identified market gaps,” CEO and co-founder Lanre Ogungbe told Disrupt Africa.

“To address these needs, we’ve built a robust infrastructure under Prembly, to ensure top-tier data security, product stability, and seamless integration with advanced security agency networks – which will be launched in a few weeks.”

Prembly describes itself as a “comprehensive compliance and security infrastructure company building products to safeguard businesses in emerging markets”. Its flagship product Identitypass began with KYC/KYB services, and has since expanded to incorporate biometrics, data verification, document verification,and compliance solutions strengthening companies’ security and compliance efforts. But as Ogungbe said, the company is expanding its focus.

“To broaden our product portfolio, we launched Identityradar, an AI-powered identity verification system that focuses on Anti-Money Laundering compliance, screening, fraud detection and prevention, and transaction monitoring,” he said. “Most recently, we introduced Identity Form, a secure form generator designed to collect necessary information and automate verification and registration processes.”

The launch of these products comes after Prembly recognised a substantial market gap in the area of identity fraud and theft, where there was a pressing need for an effective security infrastructure tailored to the unique characteristics of each market. 

“Too often, companies implement fraud detection systems that were designed for other markets, neglecting the distinct characteristics and needs of emerging markets,” said Ogungbe.

“One major oversight we noticed was the failure to consider the distinct type of data present in different markets, such as information on politically exposed persons and criminal records. There was a clear need for solutions that addressed these unique challenges while also reducing reliance on manual processes that often hampered efficiency.”

Today, Ogungbe believes no other company offers a complete suite of digital identity solutions like Prembly does, especially with its security systems for emerging markets and integration into 100 government security agencies.

“Our journey since Identitypass’s inception has been characterised by continuous learning and adaptation. We initially envisioned our product to be API-focused, but the market’s response encouraged us to expand this vision and evolve into a full-fledged security provider. We take pride in powering some of the leading startups and banks across Africa,” he said.

What was known as Identitypass raised a pre-seed round of funding in 2021, and a seed round of US$2.8 million in 2022 having taken part in the W22 edition of the Y Combinator accelerator programme. Yet Ogungbe said the startup was focused on becoming sustainable by itself.

“We’ve found that the most sustainable way has been through our customers which also affirms the relevance and effectiveness of our products in the marketplace,” he said.

Prembly generates revenue by charging for each screening, identity check, or verification conducted using its platform. Fees vary depending on factors such as the size of the business, location, and the volume of services required, ensuring sustainable and customised pricing.

Its focus on self-sufficiency certainly seems to be working, with Prembly having so far provided tailored security solutions across 40 countries.

Our goal is to become the number one provider in developing markets,” Ogungbe said. “In the coming years, we’d like to establish a heavy presence in other developing markets, such as Latin America.”

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