BY: ONOME AMUGE
OkHi, a smart addressing startup for emerging markets, has secured a seed extension round of $1.5 million, bringing its total seed funding to $3 million following a seed round of the same amount in 2020.
The seed round is supported by new and existing investors, including Chapel Hill Denham, Betatron, Interswitch, Founders Factory Africa, EXFI (a syndicate of ex-Google employees) and Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave founder.
With the new funds, the startup is set to roll out its address verification technology in Nigeria and further focus on onboarding more institutions as it targets having one million verified addresses in its database by 2022.
A recent survey conducted by OkHi found that poor addressing infrastructure has been a challenge in Africa as financial institutions such as banks and fintechs in countries like Nigeria have difficulty in verifying accurate address information from customers while setting up their bank accounts.
OkHI observed that customers use inefficient processes like utility bills or send physical agents to the address, resulting in lengthy and costly procedures which have a broader impact on the socio-economic environment as it hinders access to finance.
To address this challenge, OkHi said it has developed a smart address verification service integrated into a mobile banking app or fintech application which enables financial institutions/fintechs to digitally collect the accurate addresses of their customers and verify them.
To activate this, consumers go to OkHi’s website and create addresses by dropping a pin on their map with a virtual representation of their street. OkHi collects this address and uses location data from the consumer’s phone to actively check how long the phone spends at the address that the consumer saved. Following this, OkHi builds up a profile using its AI-powered verification engine to determine if the consumer resides at that address or not.
Once consumers create and verify their addresses, they can use them across OkHi-partnered financial institutions, some of which include Interswitch via its Quickteller product and Stanbic IBTC, replacing the need for utility bills and in-person visits.
Timbo Drayson, OkHi’s founder and CEO said the company will invest the new capital to hire global talent across sales, product and engineering to meet increased demand emanating from the financial services sector.
Drayson further disclosed that the company is in talks with 15 other banks and fintechs, with plans to roll out with them in the coming months. He also mentioned that OkHi would provide its address verification and collection services for industries such as last-mile delivery, e-commerce, food delivery and emergency services in a bid to diversify its clientele.
“OkHi’s goal in Nigeria is to demonstrate to the world how a smart addressing system should work. Once we’ve achieved that, we intend to scale to every other emerging market,” he said.