Mastercard will pay $850M to acquire identification startup Ekata, which spun out of Whitepages

Rob Eleveld. (Whitepages Photo)

The news:Financial giant Mastercard announced today that it will acquire Seattle startup Ekata for $850 million.

Ekatas background:The company sells identity verification products to help more than 2,000 businesses such as Postmates, Alaska Airlines, and Lyft discern between good and bad actors. It spun out of Whitepages in 2019 and has around 200 employees across offices in Seattle, Amsterdam, Singapore, and Budapest.

Rob Eleveld, who became CEO of Whitepages in 2016, is Ekatas CEO. Whitepages founderAlex Algard is chairman of Ekata and Whitepages, as well as Hiya, another Whitepages spinout.

Whats next?Mastercard said it will use Ekatas 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. The deal is expected to close within six months.

Pandemic-driven trend: The past year has put a spotlight on security tech firms as companies accelerate adoption of digital services and connect with more customers in the cloud. Auth0, another Seattle-area identification tech startup, announced its acquisition by Okta for $6.5 billion last month.

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, Eleveld said in a statement.

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