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Onfido, a pioneer in the realm of identity verification using computer vision and other AI tools, is set to be purchased, according to sources. Entrust — the privately held company that offers a variety of certification and verification services relating to payment cards, passwords, network and website access, device access, and more is acquiring the London-based startup, reportedly for a sum “well above” $400 million.
Despite the fact that the deal is still undergoing regulatory approvals with no completion date disclosed, the two companies have revealed that formal talks for exclusive negotiations are underway. Once this phase concludes, the plan is to incorporate Onfido’s tools into Entrust’s broader technology stack, said Todd Wilkinson, CEO and president of Entrust, in an interview.
“With the amalgamation of Onfido and Entrust, we are well-positioned to be a leader across that identity lifecycle,” he stated. Entrust has a long history dating back to the 1990s, and Datacard (which acquired Entrust and rebranded the business under the latter name) goes as far back as 1969. Therefore, one of the significant aspects it is gaining is the comprehensive addition of AI-based tools. “Tools like Onfido’s Atlas AI, it’s no surprise that AI is a big draw for us, right?” he added.
The price and other financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Wilkinson confirmed. He indicated that Entrust itself is financially prosperous and has been so for many years, generating “just under $1 billion” in annual revenue with approximately 10,000 customers, including public sector entities, major banks worldwide, and large corporations. It is privately owned by a German family and has no shareholders, he added.
Meanwhile, Onfido was established by Husayn Kassai while he was still a student at Oxford, and later joined by Eamon Jubbawy and Ruhul Amin as co-founders.
Often echoing other significant developments in the tech industry, its early days coincide with the last significant surge in AI in the 2010s (having been founded in 2012) and receiving funding from investors such as TPG, Salesforce, Microsoft, and nearly 50 other firms and well-known individuals. In the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, its prominence grew, as all transactions shifted to digital and the need for digital-based identity verification tools became an even higher priority. (Its last disclosed funding round was $100 million in 2020, at the peak of that time.)
While many other tech companies faced challenges amid the post-pandemic recovery and return from “the new normal”, Onfido was also affected. Kassai departed from the company a couple of years ago, and rumors suggested it had informally been seeking a buyer for the last few years.
Entrust’s move to purchase Onfido comes at a critical juncture in the tech industry. With widespread security and data breaches at the forefront of many consumers and businesses’ concerns, and a slew of regulations aimed at enhancing data protection, identity verification and certification technologies face mounting pressure to keep pace with the surge of cloud-based digital services that are now integral to global operations but have also enlarged the attack surface for malicious hackers seeking vulnerabilities to exploit.
The company already provides an extensive range of services, including work in highly sensitive sectors such as government and financial services, but acquiring AI technology will elevate its ability to address the challenges of providing services that are equipped for the demands of today and, likely, tomorrow.
It also underscores the broader trend of consolidating point solutions on larger platforms.
“It’s a perplexing market for many end users, due to the multitude of players in the space,” Wilkinson remarked. “While it has been beneficial from a creativity and competitiveness standpoint, it has also been challenging from an end user perspective. What we’ve observed in the past year or so is that for companies like ours with robust financial underpinnings, we had the opportunity to thrive.”
We have requested comment from Onfido for this story and will update when received. Currently, we only have a prepared statement from a press release:
“We’re enthused about the potential to enter into preliminary and exclusive talks with Entrust to make valuable and secure digital identity verification solutions more accessible on a global scale,” said Mike Tuchen, Onfido’s CEO, in a statement. “Digital identities are enabling new levels of simplicity and access for people across the globe. The potential of Onfido’s powerful AI and machine learning-driven identity verification and Entrust’s proven identity security solutions would make a new world of digital trust possible.”