December 8, 2021 | Portfolio

Passbase: Digital Identity Infrastructure for a Decentralized World

Greg Sands

Written by

Greg Sands

Passbase founders: Dave McGibbon, Mathias Klenk, & Felix Gerlach

Passbase is an innovative technological solution in a market that is exploding: identity verification for Fintech and DeFi (Decentralized Finance). Yet, as impressive as their technology is, what first drew me in was the people.

Co-founders Dave McGibbon, Felix Gerlach and Mathias Klenk combine technical insight, deep domain knowledge and design skills to create a huge leap forward in a rapidly growing market. It also didn’t hurt that CEO Dave McGibbon reminded me of a character in one of my all-time favorite movies: The Internship. An intern at Google when they were filming on campus, Dave does bear a slight resemblance (if you squint) to the Vince Vaughn character with an ever-present smile, the spring in his step and a founder’s fearless ambition.

But the need for Passbase’s identity verification solution is no joke. In a world where huge amounts of money are changing hands, both in traditional FinTech and the decentralized world of crypto, bad actors ranging from individual hackers to nation states are going after even small companies. Many incumbents and legacy solutions are rushing to fill this need, but with products that are cumbersome, expensive and brittle. They generally  deliver a terrible experience for the end customer – and often expose their clients to additional security risks at the same time. 

In contrast, Passbase delivers a novel identity solution that orchestrates and simplifies a complex process that’s made even more complicated by the different regulatory requirements from country to country. 

It reduces its clients’ attack surface by tokenizing sensitive end-user data, eliminating the need for its clients to store the information on their systems. Its low code platform can be deployed in as little as 30 minutes. Most important, it improves clients’ conversion funnel with an API-driven infrastructure that delights end users and delivers a better onboarding experience. If you’ve ever tried to set yourself up on a DeFi solution, you know just how frustrating that process can be.  

This combination of benefits is winning in the market, beating both legacy solutions and more recent entrants. Passbase is consistently beating plan and scaling to meet demand, with ambitious product plans to continue to improve the platform. On this foundation and Product Market Fit, Passbase is ready to scale its next generation identity verification infrastructure. We at Costanoa are thrilled to have led their Series A and to help add fuel and muscle to drive even faster growth. 

Some of the greatest innovation in API-driven products and developer infrastructure and tools more broadly is focused on the Web3 ecosystem. The pace of innovation, the willingness to adopt new technologies, and burgeoning end user demand are driving Web3 companies to scale at rates not seen since the early phases of the Internet in the late 1990s. Passbase is a great example of this trend, which we expect to see a lot more of and are excited to invest in.

Which brings us full circle back to the team. Like many great companies, Passbase has been global from the beginning and already operates in nearly 200 countries and 15 languages. With hubs in Berlin and New York, the team brings deep expertise to help DeFi and FinTech companies manage evolving regulations like GDPR and CCPA, especially in the US and Europe. As important, they’re setting themselves up to be one of the best startup tech employers in two of the world’s great cities. That’s one more  reason why we’re thrilled  to play a supporting role in what we believe is an amazing future for Passbase.


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