KYC (Know Your Customer) is today a significant element in the fight against financial crime and money laundering, and customer identification is the most critical aspect as it is the first step to better perform in the other stages of the process. The global anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) landscape raise tremendous stakes for financial institutions. International regulations influenced by standards like The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) are now implemented in national laws encompassing strong directives like AML 4 and 5 and preventive measures like "KYC" for client identification. Let's start with a definition of KYC and eKYC and discover how advanced ID verification systems can better support KYC processes.

What is KYC?

KYC means Know Your Customer and sometimes Know Your Client. KYC or KYC check is the mandatory process of identifying and verifying the client's identity when opening an account and periodically over time. In other words, banks must make sure that their clients are genuinely who they claim to be. Banks may refuse to open an account or halt a business relationship if the client fails to meet minimum KYC requirements.

Why is the KYC process important?

KYC procedures defined by banks involve all the necessary actions to ensure their customers are real, assess, and monitor risks. These client-onboarding processes help prevent and identify money laundering, terrorism financing, and other illegal corruption schemes. KYC process includes ID card verification, face verification, document verification such as utility bills as proof of address, and biometric verification with your country of Origin. Banks must comply with KYC regulations and anti-money laundering regulations to limit fraud. KYC compliance responsibility rests with the banks. In case of failure to comply, heavy penalties can be applied. In the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and the Asia Pacific, a cumulated USD26 billion in fines have been levied for non-compliance with AML, KYC, and sanctions-fines the past ten years (2008-2018) - let alone the reputational damage done and not measured. According to the United Nations, criminals are laundering between $1.6 to $4 trillion (between 2 to 5% of global GDP) annually. Stricter KYC/CDD processes are helping to stop that.

KYC documents

KYC checks are done through an independent and reliable source of documents, data, or information. Each client is required to provide credentials to prove identity and address. In May 2018, the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) - added a new requirement for banks to verify the identity of natural persons of legal entity customers who own, control and profit from companies when those organizations open accounts. Bottom line: when a corporate company opens a new account, it will have to provide Social Security numbers and copies of a photo ID and passports for its employees, board members, and shareholders.