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Innovative KYC compliance sculpted in Africa

Sibongakonke Fumba (aka KK)
Head of Major Accounts – Africa, Thomson Reuters

The adoption and roll-out of Thomson Reuters client onboarding and Know Your Customer (KYC) service in South Africa delivers a transformational solution for the country’s biggest banks to deliver KYC compliance benefits for corporations right across Africa. 

The regulations governing Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance and client onboarding are increasingly onerous, with South Africa being no exception.

Remaining compliant, while dealing with regulatory change, has become a significant operational burden for clients and financial institutions (FIs).

This challenge led Standard Bank, along with ABSA and Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), to seek a workable KYC solution for South Africa.

With a requirement to standardize KYC compliance policies and procedures, their aims were realized when they partnered with Thomson Reuters to design and manage the South African KYC Service.

This has opened up real opportunities for the service to solve a problem not just for South African financial institutions but for African corporates as well.

Best-in-class platform

Samuel van Niekerk, Head of CIB Operations at Standard Bank, South Africa, explained how the Thomson Reuters client onboarding platform offered the richest functionality. It was also user-friendly and able to be deployed internationally.

The platform has successfully been implemented in South Africa, but Van Niekerk is quick to point out that the challenges experienced by Standard Bank are prevalent throughout Africa.

He says that the onboarding solution must now be rolled out across the continent, taking into account different country nuances regarding onboarding and KYC compliance.Meet current and future regulatory challenges by embedding best practice rules, workflow and trusted data across the client lifecycle using Thomson Reuters Client On-Boarding

Industry-driven KYC solution

Along with key design partners ABSA and RMB, Standard Bank realized that there was an opportunity for the industry as a whole to implement a KYC solution that would benefit all stakeholders.

Van Niekerk said: “Prior to the launch of the South African KYC service, we had no effective process for capturing client KYC information and matching documentation with requirements.

“When Thomson Reuters initiated this journey in South Africa, it immediately resonated with Standard Bank, because we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of innovation and delivering progressive banking solutions.“

Van Niekerk points to three key drivers behind Standard Bank’s adoption of the South African KYC service.

  • The client experience was suffering as multi-banked clients were being contacted several times by each bank during their onboarding processes.
  • Client facing staff were spending too much time assisting operations teams with gathering client KYC information.
  • The operational burden at the backend was becoming increasingly onerous.

Empowering Africa’s success

Van Niekerk highlights that this solution has already delivered a win-win situation. Clients are able to provide their KYC compliance information once and then grant consent for all their banking partners to access the central repository.

At the same time, client-facing staff within the banks can withdraw from information-gathering tasks. Additional benefits include reduced costs, quicker onboarding processes, and less of an operational burden for banks and FIs.

Van Niekerk sums up: “Looking ahead, a solution such as this needs to achieve critical adoption levels and the main drivers are likely to be cost reduction, efficiency, regulatory compliance and security.

“The next steps are to include all South African banks and then continue the roll-out into Africa. We hope to see widespread adoption as this journey continues.”

Discover an interactive platform that streamlines the distribution of due diligence documentation with KYC as a Service from Thomson Reuters