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Fintech breakthroughs that identify,validate and augment customer data help financial services organizations head off fraud, operate within the rules


One of the most pressing issues facing the financial services industry today is the prevailing emphasis on security and fraud prevention. Big data and analytics are leveraging the power of the Internet, but also offering big, juicy plums for hackers, credit card fraudsters, money launderers and terrorists.

 

In response, many countries including the U.S. have established Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements, intended to guide financial institutions in heading off fraudulent transactions. A key way for banks to do this is to clearly Identify legitimate banking clients and their business relationships so the bad operators become more obvious and identifiable.

 

But it can be a challenge. Legitimate customers often have multiple banking relationships with a single institution, with identifying information stored in different formats in a multitude of databases. Various family members also may be account owners, but have different names and live at different addresses, possibly even in different countries.

 

Linking all these threads together while at the same time correcting name misspellings, standardizing mailing address formats, and parsing precise geolocation IDs can be the stuff of banking compliance nightmares.

 

Not doing this due diligence, however, can be catastrophic. To be hacked and have millions syphoned out of your customers' accounts is one thing, but to have the government ready and willing to fine you for failing various KYC tests can be just as damaging. Can you say "Loss of reputation and customers?"  

 

A WORLDWIDE PROBLEM


Most notably non-compliant of late have been banks based or doing business in India, but it's a worldwide problem. A New York-based broker-dealer recently was charged with KYC violations and for negligently allowing illegal trading by one of its customers. Perhaps the highest profile case most recently was Morgan Stanley Smith Barney running afoul of a variety of KYC violations. The main charge: Morgan Stanley failed to properly identify an assortment of "red flags" that signaled illegal activity.

 

Thankfully, technological breakthroughs increasingly are offering their own solutions. Just as the digital world has enabled bad players and victimized banks worldwide, technology is fighting back with sophisticated Know Your Customer tools.

 

A big step forward is the ability to accurately verify names and addresses. In a global world without borders, technology that verifies, cleans, completes and standardizes names, addresses, phone numbers and emails, and does so globally, immensely aids the process of knowing one's customers.

 

Technologies also exist that adds in missing contact fields, finds census and area-specific statistical details, and provides precise demographic information. When banks are able to combine census and area-specific details with accurate names and addresses, they'll know pretty closely if a variant player is really a customer or a bad guy.

 

KYC guidelines are very specific about risky areas prone to scams and schemes. A wide variety of countries are identified by the U.S. State Department for being prone to ignoring money laundering, tolerating suspicious transactions, and generally lacking adequate know-your-customer requirements. Ignoring this, in fact, was one of the issues that burned Morgan Stanley, permitting criminal activities to continue unchecked.

 

While IP lookup that identifies exactly where a digital communication has come from has been around for a while, new geocoding breakthroughs are able to convert IP addresses into precise latitude and longitude coordinates around the world. Most European and international identify cards also can be verified, along with mobile phone numbers and driver's license information.

 

One of the essential elements in all this is updating customer data. It's been estimated that accurate contact information deteriorates severely and regularly, and good customers who merely move across town can confuse inadequate screening processes and raise red flags (false positives) when it shouldn't. Today there are a variety of modules banks can use to update customer information quickly and accurately.

 

The bottom line is this: Financial services institutions now have lots of new reasons to love fintech technology that mitigates KYC concerns by identifying legitimate customers, and flagging the ne'er-do-wells before they can be effective.




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