ID verification software scale-up Data Zoo raises $35m

ID verification software scale-up Data Zoo raises $35m

Data Zoo founder and chairman Tony Fitzgibbon (left) with the company's new CEO Charlie Minutella (right).

A Sydney-headquartered company that provides automated know your customer (KYC) software to a rapidly-growing clientele including eToro, Experian and FXCM has raised $35 million in Series A funding from an Ellerston Capital fund, helping Data Zoo further its position in a "fiercely competitive market".

The raise represents the first outside investment for the previously bootstrapped Data Zoo, founded in 2011 by Tony Fitzgibbon and now with more than 80 staff and a global presence with offices also in Amsterdam, New Jersey, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Singapore.

Fitzgibbon transitioned out of the CEO role into the position of chairman in February, making way for New Jersey-based CEO Charlie Minutella, formerly an executive at London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) where he spearheaded the Refinitiv risk division.

The raise is expected to drive adoption and innovation of Data Zoo's identity verification software, which also covers know your business (KYC) compliance and fraud prevention.

"There’s been a long-standing need for a more efficient and secure way to verify identities," says Fitzgibbon.

"Data Zoo has spent years refining its solution – the result has been incredible innovation, UX (user experience) optimisation, and growth in a fiercely competitive market, putting us head-to-head with today’s most established identity providers.

"“Ellerston JAADE spotted an opportunity in Data Zoo’s proven ability to help global firms verify consumer and business identities, reduce fraud, and meet global compliance standards."

The company's software gives customers direct access to authoritative data from over 170 countries, featuring advanced data sequencing to improve efficiency and maximise conversions, while priotising data protection and privacy by eliminating identity data storage.

"Data Zoo is well-positioned to expand its footprint because of its patented ability to efficiently onboard a more diverse and global set of customers, meet compliance standards across jurisdictions, and enhance data privacy and protection," says new CEO Minutella.

"The investment from Ellerston JAADE will supercharge our capacity to operate in key markets, attract new business, and enter new strategic partnerships."

Ellerston JAADE investment director David Leslie says the decision to invest was influenced by Data Zoo's innovative platform and success in expanding its operations internationally, especially into challenging markets like North America.

"Data Zoo’s impressive growth, solidifying itself as a trusted identity provider against well-established competitors – all without prior funding – is no small feat," says Leslie.

"We are pleased to support them as they continue to scale in the identity verification industry."

During its bootstrapped expansion phase, Data Zoo also successfully entered the heavily regulated European market, going head-to-head with established global identity providers to become the trusted provider for major customers, including an Australian “Big Four” bank, a global social media brand, and three of the top global payment providers.

Today's news comes within two years of another Australian fraud detection and identity tech company, FrankieOne, raising $45 million in an extended Series A+ round.

Based in Melbourne, FrankieOne provides a single API (application programming interface) to access leading identity and fraud prevention providers globally, and counts the likes of Westpac (ASX: WBC), Afterpay, Shopify, Pearler and Zipmex among its customers.

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