South African serial entrepreneur Vinny Lingham has just revealed that his latest startup, called Civic, has raised US$2.75-million in seed funding. Based in Palto Alto, Civic is described as an identity protection service that relies on bitcoin blockchain technology to secure consumer data.
“The key thing is that we are offering prevention of identity theft and fraud. The current solutions in the market only clean it up after the fact, with much hassle and losses,” Lingham told Ventureburn. Banks and other financial institutions that require Social Security numbers could ping Civic when there is an attempt to open an account. The consumer could then approve or deny the action using their mobile phones.
“We also think that citizen identity theft protection should be free — and no solutions in the market offer that right now,” Lingham said.
The funding round was led by Social Leverage, a notable early stage fintech investment fund. Other investors include Sound Ventures, a firm from Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary, Pantera Capital, Founder Collective, Future Perfect Ventures, Blockchain Capital and others.
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Social Leverage’s founding partner, Howard Lindzon, will also join Civic’s board together with Lingham and business partner Jonathan Smith.
Originally from South Africa and now living in Silicon Valley, Lingham is a serial entrepreneur who has served as founder and CEO of three prior companies, Gyft, Yola and Clicks2Customers. He sold his digital gift card company Gyft for over US$50-million to Data Corp in 2014.
Lingham, who remained head of product development at Gyft until November last year, has always been involved in bitcoin projects. He was also recently appointed to the board of the Bitcoin Foundation.
“I wanted to build something really meaningful that could impact the lives of potentially billions of people around the globe and protect them in ways never thought possible in the online world,” he told Ventureburn. “It all starts by us protecting their identities first but we have a long-term vision for the company, including rolling it out worldwide.”
Lingham estimates that the industry faces losses of over US$100-billion per year from identity theft in the US alone.