Airtel snaps up local startup AuthMe to ramp up AI offerings

Airtel snaps up local startup AuthMe to ramp up AI offerings
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Reuters
3 Oct, 2018

Bharti Airtel, the country’s second-largest telecom company, said on Wednesday that it has acqui-hired Bengaluru-based startup AuthMe ID Services, which specialises in artificial intelligence solutions.

The value of the deal was not disclosed.

In a statement, Airtel said the deal was struck with a view to boosting its AI-focussed initiatives.

As part of the transaction, the core team of AuthMe will join Airtel and be part of Airtel X Labs, a digital innovation lab that works on emerging technologies such as AI, internet of things (IoT), augmented reality and virtual reality in Bengaluru. Airtel did not specify the number of members in AuthMe's team.

“We are rapidly scaling up Airtel X Labs, our digital innovation factory, and these new solutions will accelerate our journey towards rolling out intuitive digital products, particularly in vernacular languages, for our 430 million-plus customers,” said Harmeen Mehta, global chief investment officerat Bharti Airtel.

Airtel has also acquired the intellectual property rights of AuthMe’s two flagship solutions - Callup AI and Fintech OCR.

Callup AI is a chat and voice assistant that uses AI to resolve customer queries over email, chat and phone calls. Fintech OCR is an end-to-end optical character recognition pipeline designed for processing KYC documents, and bank, credit card and loan statements, among other purposes.

The startup was part of the accelerator programme launched by private-sector lender YES BANK last year.

Bharti Airtel has invested in startups in the past, most recently last week when it backed a news video app started by veteran journalist and former NDTV chief executive Vikram Chandra.

Last December, it acquired a strategic stake in Juggernaut Books, a digital platform that helps users read affordable books and submit amateur writing.

In February 2017, Airtel picked up a stake in Goa-based financial technology startup Seynse Technologies Pvt Ltd.