KYC Compliance Checklist for Financial Industries.

Financial fraud and identity theft is an ever-present threat in financial industries. With more and more financial transactions occurring online and an overall digitalization of the field, this problem has become even more apparent and imminent.

KYC, or Know Your Customer, is a set of regulations that ensures the prevention of this unlawful activity. Different variations of these regulations exist worldwide, yet they are still enforced in most major financial systems. For example, in 2020, financial institutions were fined for more than $10.4 billion relating to KYC and data privacy violations. If you don’t want to become one of them, here is what you need to know about KYC.

What You Need to Know About KYC Components

The whole process that ensures the KYC compliance of the organization consists of several components. Each of them can be done with a certain level of scrutiny, with higher levels reserved for suspicious customers. While closer inquiry guarantees better security, it takes much more time and is more troubling for the customers. The KYC components, or steps, go as follows:

1. Customer Identification Program

The first step consists of determining a customer identity and financial background. This is usually done through the forms of identification approved by a state or country. The main tools used for that are state-issued documents, like passports, driver’s licenses, social security numbers, etc.

The amount of data needed for identification is determined by the institution. Still, it usually consists of the customer’s full name, date and place of birth, current address, and a unique ID. The document confirming this data should be thoroughly examined in terms of being relevant and valid.

When it comes to the CIP of a company, the identification should be made with the help of an official business license issued by the government. If the information provided is not enough, the financial institution should not hesitate about requesting additional information or relevant documents.

2. Customer Due Diligence

This step is meant for financial companies to determine how trustworthy their potential customer is. This is the primary step meant to prevent any fraudulent activity from happening; thus, it requires the most time and resources to be completed.

The first step in CDD is to determine the initial risks. Usually, this step is meant to filter out trustworthy customers with a long history of cooperation and great financial history that pose no substantial threat.

The next part of due diligence is to ask the customers to provide the information that will allow the financial institution to investigate their financial history. This information is usually then tracked and used to determine the risks for any future transaction.

In the cases of high-risk customers, the institution may request further details on their financial activities. This is considered an Enhanced Due Diligence, and the data gained here is often used to categorize the customer profiles based on the potential for suspicious activity.

3. Customer Monitoring

Last but not least, the Know Your Customer compliance should continue after the transaction is completed, up till the customer discontinues their account. This requires continuous monitoring of the customer’s financial activity.

The procedure behind it is different for each financial institution. However, most of them try to focus on unusual deviations of certain variables. Special attention is paid to offshore transactions and transactions to unidentified parties.

While the previous steps prevent suspicious activities at the moment, customer monitoring ensures security in the long run. However, the surrounding procedures are often tedious and require a lot of human resources to complete.

What You Need to Know About KYC Components

The whole process that ensures the KYC compliance of the organization consists of several components. Each of them can be done with a certain level of scrutiny, with higher levels reserved for suspicious customers. While closer inquiry guarantees better security, it takes much more time and is more troubling for the customers. The KYC components, or steps, go as follows:

KYC Compliance Checklist

To help you ensure your conduct is compliant with the KYC, here is a checklist on how to actually know your customer and protect yourself from fraud:

Customer’s Proof of Identity

The first item on the list is an integral part of the CIP. The essential documents needed to complete it include:

  • Government-issued documents with proof of identity (driver’s license, voter ID card, passport, etc.)
  • A Permanent Account Number card. Make sure that the picture on the card matches the customer’s appearance;
  • A currently active credit or debit card, issued by an accredited bank.

Business’ Proof of Operations

If you’re dealing with an organization instead of a person, the CIP is still an essential process, but the documentation required is different. Among the documents you can ask for are:

  • Business license;
  • Certificate of Incorporation;
  • Company Tax Number.

Proof of Address

The next step is to confirm the physical address of the customer. The documents used to achieve this goal include:

  • Utility bills (water, electricity) with a verifiable address;
  • Driver’s license (make sure to confirm the conformity between the picture and the appearance);
  • A copy of the sale (or lease) agreement;
  • The same identification documents made in the name of a spouse.

Supporting Documents

If you feel that the information provided is not enough to ensure the security of the transaction, ask for one of the following supporting documents:

  • IRD number;
  • Tax files;
  • Proof of identity of a close relative or a first contact person.

KYC Automation Solutions

Manual KYC has a wide variety of problems. These include high costs, a high rate of errors due to the human factor, customer frustration, long hours, lack of standardization, and many more. Process automation can solve a lot of these issues. The existing technological solutions that can be used in the area include:

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence, and especially its branch in machine learning, has a great potential in automating a significant number of processes in KYC. Machine learning is based on data analysis, pattern identification, and improvement with experience.

Machine learning is a highly versatile tool. It can be used to analyze the data we have on fraudulent activity to determine specific patterns and recognize them in future transactions. It can also be “trained” simply to discover the missing information and automatically request the client to provide it. Right now, it is popular to use it for quality check automation, with the algorithm detecting the low-quality images and informing the customers of the need to provide another one.

Natural Language Processing

Natural language processing is a branch of artificial intelligence, which is also connected to linguistics. It deals with algorithms that recognize human speech and successfully translate it to a computer. It deals with word recognition, context clues, and other specifics of the natural language.

NLP can be effectively used to recognize and categorize large volumes of data you gain from the customers. It can be used in combination with virtual chatbots to pick the most useful and relevant information gathered in the conversation.

Intelligent Character Recognition

Intelligent character recognition is another branch of artificial intelligence that deals with text digitalization. This tool analyzes large pools of data to recognize the text on paper or the image and turn it into a text document.

As you might’ve noticed, KYC compliance requires the analysis of many documents, and they are often presented by clients in the form of a photocopy. ICR is a great tool to digitize such documents to simplify their further analysis, quality assurance, relevancy analysis. Furthermore, advanced algorithms are even able to recognize and digitize handwriting, which can be even more helpful in document analysis.

Software Robots

Another effective method of process automation is simply to mimic the repetitive actions humans perform with the help of the software solution. This is one of the easier-to-realize solutions, as, unlike artificial intelligence, it doesn’t need to be “taught” – the automation is the result of a straightforward code.

Such solutions greatly improve the efficiency of the KYC processes, especially if you consider that, unlike humans, such software robots can process the applications 24/7, without any breaks. They also don’t get fatigued by tedious tasks as humans do, which can often result in minor errors that are difficult to weed out.

Biometric Scanners

Moving from software technology trends, let’s take a look at hardware solutions that have become increasingly more popular in the financial industry. Biometric scanners, including fingerprint scanners and facial identification, are a part of most modern mobile devices. Their availability to the users makes them easy to utilize for KYC compliance.

Biometric scanners have a high fidelity rate, meaning that it is doubtful that a person can fake the biometric data read through such a scanner. However, the challenge is to get access to the database that contains the biometric data of your customer. Fortunately, there are certain other ways to confirm the person’s identification through biometric data, but the process needs to be worked on and improved.

Choose Exbsoft

Exbsoft is a web and mobile software development company committed to providing high-quality services from the start of product development to its quality assurance. What makes us especially relevant to this discussion is our experience developing an online banking system for small and medium enterprises. Not only was the system equipped with a well-designed UI and UX, with a wide variety of features, including different types of transfers and currency exchange, but the team is also KYC compliant.

If you need to develop a similar system, or you require any other type of KYC-compliant software solution, contact us to discuss our possible partnership!