Building secure infrastructure for Digital Africa: Smile Identity's 2022 report on KYC trends and best practices

January 30, 2023
3 min read

Smile Identity, a leading provider of digital identity verification solutions for Africa, has released its highly-anticipated end-of-year 2022 Know Your Customer (KYC) report. Using data from nearly 50 million KYC checks from different industries, this comprehensive report provides in-depth insights into the current state of KYC trends, policies and best practices across the region.

Despite the economic challenges faced by Africa and the world in 2022, the continent saw sustained investment in technology, demonstrating the importance of digital identity infrastructure. As businesses prepare for a potential global recession in 2023, they are focusing on maximising profitability and capital-efficient growth. 

Against this backdrop, Smile Identity's report highlights the crucial role of tailored onboarding processes. By collaborating closely with ID authorities and clients, the company has achieved high pass rates while preventing fraud, safeguarding user data, and ensuring compliance with new data protection regulations. The report also notes that fraud rates stabilised in the second half of 2022 due in part to increased security measures in online spaces, stronger KYC checks and more conservative marketing efforts in the face of economic headwinds.

Regulatory enforcement of user consent through digital channels has increased as privacy concerns rise over the proliferation of personal data. The Smile Identity report, in its "country deep dives" section, highlights new initiatives by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) and National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to introduce consent layers called iGree and virtual NIN (vNIN), respectively, which aim to transfer the process of collecting user consent from businesses to ID issuing authorities. These Nigerian policies create standards for using digital identity credentials and aim to give users a higher level of security and control when interacting with businesses.

Other African nations are also modernising their ID infrastructure to harmonise data, reduce fraud, improve service delivery, and increase inclusion.

Selected topics discussed in this report:

  • From Downtime to Uptime: How Document Verification can solve the database downtime challenge seen across Africa.
  • The Importance of Biometric Checks in Combating Fraud: How 50% or more of fraud goes undetected.
  • Exploring the Markets of Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, and Ghana: An In-depth Analysis of Country-Specific Trends.
  • The quick transition of NIN to virtual NIN in Nigeria for Smile Identity customers. 60% of usage has shifted to the new, virtual NIN (vNIN) within two months of its introduction.

"At Smile Identity, our mission is to make it safe and easy for anyone to prove their identity online. To achieve this, we are building infrastructure to onboard and secure Digital Africa," said Mark Straub, CEO of Smile Identity. "Our products help pave honest paths for success, and we are proud to have played a role in helping businesses across the continent achieve their goals in 2022."

Click here to download the full report from Smile Identity’s website.

About Smile Identity 

Smile Identity is the leading identity verification, and digital Know Your Customer (KYC) provider for Africa. We help companies scale rapidly across Africa by confirming the true identity of their users in real-time, using any smartphone or computer. Our technology is powered by proprietary Machine Learning algorithms designed specifically for African faces and network connections. We have developed solutions for identity verification, digital KYC, user onboarding, biometric authentication, deduplication and anti-fraud checks. Backed by Costanoa, Norrsken22, CRE Venture Capital, Khosla Impact, LocalGlobe, Courtside Ventures and Angel Investors from across Africa, Smile Identity is enabling the growth of tech ecosystems across the African continent while providing infrastructure to build trust online. For more information, please visit

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