The problems of securing primary ‘know your client’ information were the driving force behind Mehul Kotedia’s launch of KYCme.com in 2009. Kotedia (pictured), a Channel Islands based accountant and tax adviser had observed the laborious process of gathering a potential client’s primary ‘know your client’ information to fulfil due diligence requirements for anti-money laundering and other regulations.
“It’s a laborious exercise,” he says as clients have to provide passports, utility bills and other documentation. “We said there must be a simple way to do that where people can secure their information on line on a platform, and we created the KYCme platform where you can store all your information and share it securely with people.”
For private clients there are other benefits to signing up, including if they lose their passport on holiday, they can simply login to their account and retrieve the scanned and authenticated copy. Any lost documents around significant investments or purchases such as taking out a mortgage can be stored in the virtual vault and access can be given to authorised intermediaries to complete the KYC authentication process, saving valuable time.
Beyond that, the platform allows a client to ensure that the information belongs to the client only. “We have certified intermediaries, certified people such as lawyers, accountants or advocates who are our members who can be certain that a client has provided originals which have been certified, encrypted and stored.”
In developed countries, this is a useful tool but Kotedia explains that in emerging economies such as Asia and Africa, this becomes even more useful.
“In these countries, you ask, how do you identify people? So we built our portal not to restrict on the type of identification proof that you would put on it. It could be a birth certificate or a driving licence to make it a global proposition.”
In terms of allowing people on the corporate side onto the platform, KYCme vets people and then allows them to join which creates a trust network among professionals. The exchange process enables secure certification and transmission of documents to vetted and approved members (“certified intermediaries”) of KYCme using their trusted network. Members will include banks, laws firms, accountants, government bodies and any institutions affected by the ID verification and authentication process.
Launched two years ago, the platform has about 100 plus individual users who pay an annual fee of £20 to £100 a year with banks and financial institutions taking up multiple channels. “We want to be the gold standard of identification,” Kotedia explains. “When you look at who needs this information, the trust network becomes very powerful.”
Kotedia personally meets with each institution on the platform providing third party potential proof on the corporate side. Kotedia said that KYCme is looking to work with the UK government’s Cabinet office on its virtual ID programme and Open Identity Exchange of which it is a member.
“KYCme plays a significant role in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing,” says Kotedia. “KYCme will continue to evolve and develop to remain one step ahead of AML and KYC legislation.” He also mentioned that he is excited to receive various collaboration opportunities, which can only be good for business and a better way to do business.