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Payfone Raises $100 Million to Fight Fraud with Phone Intelligence

Identity verification and authentication company Payfone – which made its debut on the Finovate stage more than a decade ago – has announced a major fundraising of $100 million. The Series H investment, led by funds advised by Apax Digital (the growth equity division of Apax Partners), takes the company’s total funding to more than $217 million, according to Crunchbase. Although no valuation information was provided in last week’s announcement, TechCrunch noted that Payfone had earned a previous valuation of $270 million with its previous fundraising in April 2019.

Payfone’s customer identity platform helps financial institutions identify a range of potentially fraudulent activities – from the presence of a burner phone or a synthetic identity to spoofed calls and real-time SIM swap fraud. The company’s authentication solutions use proprietary “phone intelligence,” which processes behavioral signals in real-time to measure a phone number’s reputation and risk. This gives the authenticating party a Trust Score that helps them separate potentially suspicious activity from legitimate transactions. In addition, Payfone provides call verification solutions that run in the background of the phone call, making it easier and faster to resolve any authentication issues that arise.

“The mobile phone is rapidly becoming the secure passport for navigating our digital lives,” Payfone CEO Rodger Desai said. “With one in three U.S. consumers already authenticated by Payfone, this investment accelerates our ability to set the standard for the authentication process. As we build out a cross-industry consortium, more enterprises will be able to access Payfone’s real-time fraud and risk signals to prevent account takeovers while passing more transactions.”

In addition to helping the company build the forementioned industry-spanning consortium, the additional capital will be used to acquire strategic assets, and bolster the machine learning capabilities of its digital identity and authentication technology.

Also participating in the Series H round were new investors Sandbox Insurtech Ventures, and individual investor Ralph de la Vega, former Vice Chairman at AT&T. Existing Payfone investors MassMutual Ventures, Synchrony, Blue Venture Fund, Wellington Management LLP, as well as individual investor Andrew Prozes, former CEO of LexisNexis, were also involved in the fundraising.

Headquartered in New York City and founded in 2008, Payfone launched in the U.K. this spring with its Mobile Authentication product. The solution gives financial institutions in the U.K. a secure and easy-to-use alternative to one-time, SMS-based passwords for activities like customer onboarding, login, and two-factor authentication.

Payfone VP Keiron Dalton explained that while one-time passwords (OTP) have a role to play in the authentication process, they often fall short of what is required in the financial services industry. “(The) market demands placed on financial institutions in the U.K. are particularly acute,” Dalton said, “leading to a clamor of activity as these institutions search for what’s next in terms of authentication.” He called Mobile Authentication a “game-changing experience” for customers that provided a superior level of security against fraud, and added that the solution has seen “huge success in the U.S.”

Named one of the fastest growing companies on Deloitte’s 2019 Technology Fast 500 last fall, Payfone earned similar commendations this year from the Financial Times. The U.K.-based publication featured the company in the top 500 of its inaugural, The Americas’ Fastest Growing Companies 2020 roster.

Photo by NEOSiAM 2020 from Pexels