Onfido, a UK technology startup cofounded by three Oxford graduates in their twenties, is hoping to sign Airbnb as a major new customer now that rival firm Jumio has filed for bankruptcy.
Onfido’s identity checking platform helps businesses verify that people are who they say they are. It aims to simplify the way contractors, sharing economy users, and employees are vetted, as well as reducing the amount of time it takes to bring them onboard.
Eamon Jubbawy, Onfido COO and cofounder, told Business Insider last week that Onfido wants to try and secure Airbnb as a customer, adding that Onfido has been in correspondence with the San Francisco-based home-sharing platform.
Jubbawy suggested that landing the $24 billion (£17 billion) company as a new customer would be a big win for Onfido, which has been backed with more than $5 million (£3.5 million) from Wellington Partners (one of Spotify’s early investors), Dan Cobley (a former Google MD), and Brent Hoberman (lastminute.com cofounder.)
Airbnb is under pressure to improve the safety of its platform after reports suggested a number of guests have been raped by their hosts. There have also been reports of guests holding wild drug-fuelled sex parties in Airbnb properties.
Onfido’s customers include large corporates like recruiters Morgan McKinley and Hays, and newspapers like The Daily Mail and The Evening Standard. The company’s customers also include an increasing number of sharing economy businesses like Hassle.com and BlaBlaCar who want to check that the people letting out their homes and offering services are legit and trustworthy.
Unlike many other identity verification platforms, Onfido’s operations are almost entirely online. Employers and sharing economy platforms send an email via Onfido to prospective employees or sharing economy users asking them to provide proof that they, for example, hold a valid driving licence. Onfido’s platform then automatically cross-checks these with the appropriate databases and reports back to the employer or sharing economy platform.
Onfido, which employs 90 people across London, Lisbon and San Francisco, is hoping to raise additional investment in 2016 so that it can further expand its business. Onfido CEO Husayn Kassai told Business Insider in January that he was in talks with several venture capital companies but was unable to say which ones.
An Airbnb spokesman confirmed that Airbnb has held talks with Onfido. He added that there were no plans to sign a deal in the near future.