Payment giant Mastercard to buy digital ID firm Ekata for $850m

In a move to leverage on the increasing demand for companies in the digital security space, global payments processor Mastercard acquires Seattle startup Ekata for $850m.

Operating in three industries including e-commerce, payments and financial services, Ekata essentially sells identity verification products to help more than 2,000 businesses such as Postmates, Alaska Airlines and Lyft track good and bad actors. Its products, which include Ekata Identity Graph and Ekata Identity Network, allows companies to combat online fraud.

It spun out of Whitepages in 2019 and has offices in Seattle, Amsterdam, Singapore and Budapest.

Commenting on the acquisition, Ekata CEO Rob Eleveld said, “The acceleration of online transactions has thrust global digital identity verification to the forefront as one of the biggest opportunities to build digital trust and combat global fraud.”

Indeed, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of e-commerce, therefore, boosting demand for services to safeguard against cyber fraud. As a result, the firm’s revenue surged in 2020 and it added 300 new customers including food and grocery-delivery startup Postmates.

The purchase of Ekata will boost Mastercard’s digital identity and security framework. Mastercard will use Ekata’s technology to “deliver a more comprehensive identity service that can power real-time decision-making needs, from new account openings to helping merchants assess potential fraud before a payment transaction is authorized,” it said in a statement.

Mastercard’s president of cyber and intelligence solutions Ajay Bhalla added, “The shift to a more digital world requires us to secure every transaction and protect trust in every interaction. Security and a seamless customer experience across entire cyber environments are real problems that deserve real solutions.

“We have an opportunity to ensure that the digital way to prove you are who you say you are and establishing that trust is as easy as it is with paper credentials today. With the addition of Ekata, we will advance our digital identity strategy as part of a broader effort to power the digital economy.”

The deal is expected to close within six months subject to regulatory review.

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