An idea that got the taxman interested

Monday October 29 2012

PHOTO | FILE Lands ministry officials scrutinise old, tattered title deeds at Ardhi House, Nairobi. Soon, an application that  verifies official documents — targeting banks, employers, Kenya Revenue Authority and other entities — could be in the market.

PHOTO | FILE Lands ministry officials scrutinise old, tattered title deeds at Ardhi House, Nairobi. Soon, an application that verifies official documents — targeting banks, employers, Kenya Revenue Authority and other entities — could be in the market. NATION MEDIA GROUP

By CHARLES WOKABI

In November last year, Mr Patrick Mutahi and Mr Samuel Kimani walked into Co-operative Bank to open a bank account for their company, ICT Solutions. This did not happen as fast as they wanted.

The bank asked them to give the application several days as it verified their firm’s registration documents.

While this was a normal process by the bank, for the two IT graduates this added misery to cashing their first cheque for money they urgently needed.

Disillusioned, the two retreated back to their “workshop” and, as the days ticked by for the bank to verify their status, their restless brains begun to work a little fast. One morning, an idea on how to shorten the process struck the team.

And they came up with an application that would reduce the amount of time taken to verify official documents targeting banks, employers, Kenya Revenue Authority and other entities. mVerified App was born.

Last week during the Demo Africa forum, the pair took to the podium to pitch to investors, hoping to capture their interest and get funding to commercialise the idea.

The app passes as one with the potential to solve one of the greatest concerns for many people across the world when carrying out business transactions.

Its users can ascertain the authenticity of documents required in signing deals, including title deeds, logbooks and Personal Identification Numbers.

It has the potential to deal a fatal blow to job cheats who have been parading fake certificates during interviews, for instance, while seeking promotions.

“With this app, you can verify the originality of a degree certificate by keying in the name of the holder and certificate number since we have entered partnerships with universities.

In future, one will also be able to check whether a person (prospecting employee, business partner or otherwise) has a criminal record,” said Mr Kimani.

The company has concluded discussions with Kenya Revenue Authority to allow the app access the authority’s data so that users can verify owners of cars they intend to buy to avoid cases of con which have been rampant recently.

For the case of cars, a user gets response with the car model, chassis number and colour. Traffic police might also find good use of it in verifying fake driving licence as is those searching for homes or buying property as it will cut short the period taken to verify authenticity of title deeds.

They say they only thing that is holding them back is the slow process of government partnership approvals. They are currently waiting to sign a contract with KRA. Users are charged a certain fee that the company then shares with the institution.

“In five years, we aim to have the ability to verify many more documents including degree certificates from all universities in Kenya, Kenya National Examination Council, and professional licences,” said Mr Kimani.

Coming to Demo Africa, the company which has since acquired two more directors- Jamal Haji and Jacob Mwema- to handle the marketing aspect of the business is pursuing investment to scale up its business or strategic partnerships to improve their products.