Wednesday, 4 March 2020 – Omnisient, a Cape Town-based Privacy-by-Design startup that specialises in secure data sharing for businesses, has landed pre-Series A funding from Nedbank CIB, Investec and Compass Venture Capital.
With the vision of democratising data, Omnisient’s intersect.ai platform enables businesses to unlock the transformative benefits of data collaboration – while protecting customers’ data privacy and intellectual property. Since launch, the intersect.ai platform has gained major traction amongst SA businesses, including leading banks, insurers and retailers.
“Nedbank CIB is at the forefront of investing in disruptive technologies that make a meaningful difference to people’s lives – including data privacy initiatives that leverage Nedbank’s strategy of being financial experts who do good. Our investment in Omnisient will support the company’s scaling of their team to capitalise on their first-mover-advantage in Africa. We are confident that the intersect.ai platform will be beneficial to our corporate clients that are looking to monetise their data or improve unique client value propositions, in a safe and compliant way,” says Janade Du Plessis, Head of Alternative Investments and Venture Capital at Nedbank.
“Consumers now demand speed, ease and convenience in every sphere of life – and businesses can only meet these needs if they have seamless access to data on consumer behaviour, interests and purchase decisions,” explains Jon Jacobson, Chief Executive & Technology Officer at Omnisient. “The critical business challenge is that consumers want this convenience without compromising on privacy. At Omnisient, our intersect.ai platform follows the principle of Privacy by Design, which speaks directly to this challenge – enabling swift and affordable data sharing while removing any trace of customers’ personal information from the process.”
In addition to propelling business growth through data collaboration, the pioneering Omnisient platform critically ensures that customers remain compliant with complex data privacy regulations such as the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Leveraging unused data
“According to a 2016 report by Forrester, up to 73% of all data within an enterprise goes unused for analytics. Leveraging and monetising this massive amount of data is what makes the difference between market leaders and laggards,” says Bastien Maucet, partner at Compass Venture Capital.
Investec’s mandate for Emerging Companies is to identify and invest in innovative, early stage-companies that demonstrate high-growth potential.
“Our strategy is to invest in and enable the growth of established, reputable entrepreneurs,” says Akash Maharaj, of Investec Emerging Companies, an equity mandate, which forms part of Investec Private Capital. “Our investment in Omnisient is informed by the strength of the team and the innovation we believe they will bring to the tech ecosystem and the increasingly important field of data protection and privacy. More importantly, our partnership seeks to leverage Investec Private Capital’s expertise and experience to empower Omnisient’s team in unlocking the potential of their unique vision.”
Notably, when investors conducted due diligence, they received compliance validation of the Omnisient platform from leading law firm ENSafrica (Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs).
“Ensuring that intersect.ai was compliant with POPIA and GDPR was a major concern to Compass as a Mauritius – based investor. Enforcing the highest security and privacy standards on the platform is paramount to driving its adoption amongst global companies operating from Mauritius,” added Maucet.
Balancing compliance with agility
Currently, South Africa’s information regulator is pushing for the remaining provisions of POPIA to be finalised and to come into effect by 1 April 2020. After the commencement date, companies will have 12 months to get their systems and processes in place to comply with the Act.
In addition to POPIA, many large businesses within SA, including banks, insurers and retailers, have to comply with GDPR, which came into effect in 2018. Essentially, GDPR regulations apply to the processing of personal data by “controllers” and “processors” based in the EU, as well as those located outside of the EU if they provide services and goods to EU customers. GDPR penalties can be up to 4% of an organisation’s global annual turnover, while POPIA carries a maximum R10 million fine or time behind bars for non-compliance.
“With rigorous new data privacy regulations coming into effect, businesses across sectors have to put secure data sharing systems and infrastructure in place,” says Jacobson. “Savvy business leaders are quickly recognising the imperative to act now, and are looking to integrate world-class technology that simultaneously drives growth through data monetization.”