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May 24, 2018

ID Verify Vendor Mitek Acquires AI-Based Authenticator

(fatmawati achmad zaenuri/Shutterstock)

To get a sense of which AI capabilities beyond chatbots are most likely to have an immediate commercial impact, it’s useful to monitor which AI developers are being snapped up by established technology vendors.

Another clue surfaced this week when Mitek Systems Inc., a specialist in digital identity verification for banks, announced a deal to acquire Paris-based A2iA, a developer of software tools used to capture data, process official documents and automate workflows.

Mitek will acquire Paris-based A2iA for €42.5 million in cash ($50.8 million) along with Mitek common stock, the company announced Wednesday (May 23).

The San Diego-based buyer (NASDAQ: MITK) said its acquisition of A2iA would create nothing short of an image analytics leader with “the largest private research group of PhD scientists in computer vision, machine learning and AI for the digital identity verification industry.”

Mitek said the acquisition of A2iA’s research team would double the size of its existing research lab, which it claims is already the largest corporate research group of computer vision and machine learning experts. Mitek’s software is currently deployed in more than 6,000 U. S. banks while A2iA’s technology is widely used in ATMs across France, the U.K. and Brazil.

The French company’s proprietary algorithms are used to process millions of checks, IDs and documents daily for banks, retailers, insurance companies, mobile operators, healthcare providers and government agencies.

Mitek CEO James DeBello said A2iA’s machine learning technology will be used to enhance its Mobile Verify digital identity verification technology. The platform is used primarily to read government-issued identity documents. The addition of A2iA’s AI algorithms would help authenticate documents, DeBello said.

“Verifying identity and creating trust in digital channels at scale is vitally important and a continuing challenge,” DeBello added.

The deal for A2iA also demonstrates how printed and handwritten data are increasingly being captured by mobile devices. The vision analytics specialist provides add-on features to automate the process of scanning documents. Those handwriting recognition, text extraction and document classified tools are combined with frameworks provided by system integrators and independent software vendors to gather printed and handwritten, or “cursive,” data that is deposited in a structured, searchable database.

Identity verification is seen as among the fastest-growing market segments as the financial services sector scrambles to comply with cross-border data regulations. AI-powered solutions are seen as another way to accelerate current identification processes that are relatively slow and expensive.

Along with banking-related acquisitions, the sector is also drawing investors eying the emerging retail sector. For example, SheerID, a digital verification startup based on Portland, Ore., closed an $18 million funding round in January. SheerID’s customers include Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Costco (NASDAQ: COST), and Target (NYSE: TGT). These and other retailers are looking for new ways to quickly verify identity before impatient customers jump to a competitor’s e-commerce site.

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