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Cambridge credit scoring startup Cignifi collects $1.5 million from eBay's founder

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 14, 2012 07:11 AM

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Cignifi has raised $1.5 million in new funding, led by Omidyar Network, the California investment firm created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Cambridge-based Cignifi helps banks, insurers, and retailers estimate the credit risk of prospective customers who don't have standard credit histories. Cignifi's analysis is based entirely on an individual's mobile phone usage patterns. (I profiled the company back in January.)

The company has just ten employees, but in addition to Cambridge, it has offices in Brazil, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Cignifi CEO Jonathan Hakim says that 2.7 billion people around the world use mobile phones, but have no formal credit history and thus little access to financial services like lending or insurance. Hakim says Cignifi is "actively recruiting both in technology and analytics." The company expects the first commercial deployment of its technology to take place in 2013.

Cignifi raised $600,000 from individual investors last year, and also received a $125,000 grant from the World Bank. The Omidyar Network has so far invested $550 million in for-profit companies as well as nonprofits; among its investment themes is "financial inclusion."

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Innovation and technology news that matters, on a new website from the Boston Globe, featuring Scott Kirsner and other original reporting.

About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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