As global regulations governing financial transactions continue to expand and evolve, sectors and businesses that previously operated in regulatory grey zones are now facing an urgent need to be compliant.
Know Your Customer (KYC) processes are an integral component of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorist Financing (CTF) protocols. Companies offering financial or other regulated services – such as crypto companies or other Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) – are expected to have robust KYC processes in place to vet potential individual customers.
But what about businesses that sometimes, or mostly, count other businesses among their customer base? That’s where Know Your Business (KYB) or ‘Corporate KYC’ comes in.
Corporate KYC involves gathering verified information on a business’s identity and operations, and is an essential process for companies that are regulated by global AML/CTF regulations.
Basic Corporate KYC information can include:
- Understanding who controls a corporate entity – its Ultimate Beneficial Owners (UBOs) or Persons of Significant Control
- The jurisdiction it is registered in
- Whether it is a fully licensed and registered entity
Additionally, it is also often important to carry out Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) on businesses that are flagged as potentially risky. EDD in a Corporate KYC process can include analyzing whether a corporate entity:
- Is connected or does business with any sanctioned parties or in sanctioned jurisdictions
- Has a history of legal sanctions or fines
- Is featured in any adverse media or watchlists
Inefficient Corporate KYC: Expensive and Time-consuming
The traditional approach to corporate KYC taken by banks and other regulated organizations has involved carrying out due diligence on potential corporate customers using time- and resource-intensive manual processes.
This tends to involve a company’s internal compliance team(s) conducting manual research of multiple government registers, sanctions watchlists and adverse media databases in order to identify whether a prospective corporate customer poses a risk from a regulatory standpoint.
As well as being heavily time-consuming, the process can also be complex and difficult. This is particularly the case when dealing with small or new businesses that have less of an identifiable history or track record.
When compiling KYC reports on a potential client – whether it is an individual or a business – the pressures of time on compliance teams can also lead to inconsistent documentation and analysis. This data then needs to be compiled, made uniform and entered into digital databases.
The process provides plenty of opportunities for human error. And when it comes to compliance and regulation, ensuring the integrity and quality of data on customers is not just a matter of managing risk – it can be critical for a company’s very survival in the face of increasingly strict regulations.
The inefficiencies of manual KYC checks haven’t gone unnoticed. In research carried out by Thomson Reuters, the organization found that the average annual expenditure of financial institutions carrying out Customer Due Diligence (CDD) and corporate KYC was around US$48 million per institution, with some of the larger firms even reaching US$70 million.
Of the over four hundred compliance leaders interviewed as part of the survey, the majority also reported that accessing UBO data was the biggest obstacle facing their teams when conducting CDD and corporate KYC.
Other major challenges of manual CDD/KYC are drawn-out periods of onboarding. According to a February 2021 article in Finextra, it takes FIs an average of 3-4 months to successfully onboard a corporate customer.
This can lead many potential customers to abandon the process before it is over, with estimated losses to the global corporate banking market in 2019 in the eye-watering region of US$3.3 trillion.
For companies seeking to establish a relationship with a FI, the demands for information placed by FIs on their own compliance teams can also be inconsistent and highly draining on a small company’s limited resources. The security and privacy of sensitive data is also a major concern.
While KYC-Chain is known for its advanced KYC checks for individuals, our end-to-end workflow solution also boasts powerful Corporate KYC features to ensure the corporate customers you onboard are not going to cause you any regulatory problems. It also makes the process incredibly fast.
Let’s take a look at how KYC-Chain’s Corporate KYC capabilities work.