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European biometric firm expanding in London since Brexit deal signed

Kalila Sangster
·3-min read
Ondato uses photo and live video identity verification, data monitoring on a unified platform to capture a biometric three-dimensional map of a person for user identification. Photo: Getty
Ondato uses photo and live video identity verification, data monitoring on a unified platform to capture a biometric three-dimensional map of a person for user identification. Photo: Getty

European digital and biometric authentication company Ondato is expanding to the UK, naming London as the site of its new HQ.

The tech startup will be based in London’s Canary Wharf district, using technology developed at its research and development centre in Vilnius, Lithuania, where the firm was founded.

Over the next year, the company plans to expand in Germany, France and Spain, after raising $2m (£1.46m) seed capital from Startup Wise Guys and OTB Ventures, Europe’s largest venture capital firm investing in tech start-ups with a strong base in Central and Eastern Europe.

The move comes as the EU and UK signed a historic post-Brexit trade agreement on Wednesday. The deal was finalised on Christmas Eve, after negotiations were held up for months with the two sides at loggerheads over the issues of fisheries, ‘level playing field’ agreements to prevent unfair subsidies, and the enforcement mechanism of any deal.

The full details of the deal have not yet been published so the impact on UK headquartered businesses is not yet fully clear. However, it will mean big changes for business, with the UK and EU forming two separate markets, and the end of free movement.

However, Ondato’s move to the UK has been “undeterred by Brexit,” said Liudas Kanapienis, founder and chief executive of Ondato.

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Ondato has been one of the winners of COVID-19, with the pandemic accelerating the growth of digital economy businesses — for transport, food delivery, e-commerce and consumer services — and creating significant demand for rapid uptake of users to Ondato’s platform.

Ondato uses photo and live video identity verification, data monitoring, screening, due-diligence, risk scoring and case management on a unified platform to capture a biometric three-dimensional map of a person for user identification. This provides a “higher level of identity assurance than those previously used by large gig economy businesses,” according to Ondato.

The growth of the digital economy business in the face of the coronavirus pandemic has also increased the need for bank, insurance providers, merchants and sole traders undertaking new roles as a result of the pandemic to put effective Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance measures in place.

KYC procedures are critical to assessing customer risk and a legal requirement to comply with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws. KYC involves knowing a customers identity, their financial activities and the risk they pose.

The rapid digitisation of business has led a wide range of industries requiring user verification, identification and risk management to turn to Ondato’s products.

Ondato now has over 150 clients across 24 countries, from gig economy startups to major corporate banks, according to the company.

The company’s annualised revenue has tripled since the start of 2020, Ondato said.

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“I am thrilled to be expanding the Ondato business after our seed capital raise. The UK remains a business capital for Europe and we are excited to call London our new home — undeterred by Brexit,” said Kanapienis.

“Amid the unprecedented global disruption of 2020, agile startups such as Ondato have rapidly grown to meet the new needs of an increasingly digitised economy. New consumer trends and business processes have been formed and we look forward to further growth in the year ahead with the backing and expertise of OTB Ventures.”

Adam Niewinski, managing partner at OTB Ventures said: “We see huge potential for Ondato in this vast market for user identity and compliance. Many businesses from financial institutions, insurance companies, online retailers or car rental businesses — they all face the requirement in the digital economy to know your customers, meet compliance and combat fraud. Ondato is already a vastly international business, and I look forward to seeing its global footprint expand further.”

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