Veridium and Wala bring blockchain power to Africa’s unbanked
Biometrics firm Veridium has teamed with Wala, a blockchain-powered financial services platform, as they target the unbanked and underbanked population in Africa.
The duo will collaborate on a pilot programme in sub-Saharan Africa to demonstrate their digital model offering “zero-fee banking”.
This pilot is funded by a grant awarded to Veridium from the Digital Financial Services (DFS) Innovation Lab, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to develop and field test biometric authentication technology on unmodified Android smartphones.
Wala is deploying a totally digital model, and in collaboration with unnamed microfinancing partners, its Android-based mobile platform sits between customers and banks, allowing them to sign up and transact through an app.
Wala CEO Tricia Martinez says it uses Ethereum blockchain to “eliminate the high costs of banking, and bring financial services to the unbanked and underbanked through mobile devices”.
Wala’s platform will integrate Veridium’s proprietary biometric solution, 4 Fingers TouchlessID, which captures four fingerprints at once, contactlessly, and by using a phone’s rear camera and flash.
Veridium says its tech is compatible with Android phone models up to ten years old and that it is the “first” company to develop a multi-finger touchless biometric authentication system that works on unmodified smartphones.
It adds that the quality of the prints are the equivalent to those captured on traditional flatbed scanners, “making this the most reliable option for remotely enrolling and authenticating customers”.
Wala will also be using the VeridiumID platform to manage and store this data – a solution that uses a distributed data model to secure biometric templates.
The pilot project will roll out in January 2018 and its findings will be presented to the Gates Foundation at a conference in February 2018.