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Vinny Lingham’s digital ID firm Civic sets sights on SA

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 11 Apr 2024
The Civic global ID card is usable and receivable across 190 countries.
The Civic global ID card is usable and receivable across 190 countries.

US-based Web3 digital identity verification company Civic is exploring expansion plans into South Africa and the rest of Africa markets.

This was revealed by Chris Hart, CEO of Civic, in an interview with ITWeb after the company recently rolled out its physical ID card to combat artificial intelligence-based fraud.

Civic was co-founded by South African-born tech entrepreneur Vinny Lingham, who is now based in Silicon Valley.

Lingham was previously CEO of Gyft and Yola, and is co-founder of Silicon Cape, an NGO based in SA that aims to turn Cape Town into a technology hub.

He also founded and was previously CEO of global search marketing firm incuBeta and its subsidiary Clicks2Customers.

Civic is a provider of identity management tools for Web3, empowering users to manage their identities across chains with an on-chain representation of their reusable identity.

The company’s flagship product, Civic Pass, is an integrated permissioning tool that helps businesses enable secure access to their on-chain assets. Users may also manage their identity, presence and reputation with a dashboard.

Civic was co-founded in 2015 by Lingham and Jonathan Smith.

Late last month, the firm introduced its physical ID card, as part of the Civic ID System, marking a step forward in private, compliant, and user-focused identity solutions.

According to the company, its global ID card is usable and receivable across 190 countries.

“As a company with co-founders from South Africa, we’ve always held South Africa and Africa in high esteem,” Hart tells ITWeb.

“When we make our products available here, we know we are helping to enrich South Africa’s economy and expand the country’s financial services. The area is a natural fit for digital asset adoption because of the local economy. Identity has always been a big part of South Africa’s history, and we understand the importance of creating thoughtful digital identity products that empower individuals,” he adds.

Chris Hart, CEO of Civic.
Chris Hart, CEO of Civic.

While 190 countries are part of the Civic global ID ecosystem, Hart points out that there is currently a waitlist for interested parties from a variety of countries and backgrounds.

“We’re currently exploring partnerships, market research, and regulatory considerations for our rollout. We aim to provide a universally usable digital identity solution that will modernise outdated identity verification systems and improve access to services.”

He explains that one of the main purposes of physical ID cards is to enhance digital identity verification, especially by giving more control to individuals over their digital identity and allowing them to share only the information required by the service provider.

If paired with the digital identity of citizens, he believes that African governments could potentially make use of Civic’s global ID cards in several ways.

According to Hart, governments can utilise Civic’s ID cards for secure and efficient identity verification of citizens when accessing government services, voting, applying for official documents, or participating in online transactions.

“Governments can partner with Civic to promote financial inclusion initiatives by leveraging the global ID cards to provide citizens with access to online banking and financial services, especially in rural and underserved areas,” he notes.

On healthcare services, he says Civic’s ID cards can be integrated into healthcare systems to ensure accurate patient identification, facilitate electronic medical records, and improve the efficiency of healthcare service delivery via online systems.

He adds that Civic’s technology can enable governments to digitise and streamline the delivery of e-government services, reducing bureaucracy, minimising fraud, and enhancing citizen engagement.

“By integrating Civic’s global ID cards into their systems and services, African governments can enhance efficiency, security, and inclusivity, ultimately contributing to the socioeconomic development of their countries.”

Hart adds that since going live, Civic has had thousands of sign-ups and is looking forward to connecting with this new group of users.

“Adoption will vary depending on factors such as regulatory environment, infrastructure, and local partnerships but we are optimistic about the market potential.”