Tag Archives: Blockchain

Fintech & KYC (Know Your Customer)

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Each thematic area of the fintech ecosystem is important, but I believe that infrastructure will determine the fintech industry’s future.

Data is becoming more important every day, as is privacy. In addition, it is not possible to build a system and expect people to use it without proper security measures in place. Enhanced encryption and speed of execution is key for infrastructure.

The most challenging part of the job is getting through the ‘know your customer’ (KYC) process.

According to a recent Thomas Reuter survey, the average bank spends GBP 40 million a year on KYC compliance and customer due diligence 

Requests for an excessive number of documents and a lack of understanding of the client background from the KYC team gives out the wrong messages to new clients and means they are frustrated in their business relationship with the bank from the very start.

Fintech, with the help of blockchain technology, is a great opportunity for clients and financial institutions.

It currently takes a considerable amount of time and money to perform the necessary due diligence on people and companies.

An open source ledger, where data on HNW individuals and companies can be collected, verified and constantly updated will not only help financial institutions but also the client, as they will not have to give the same documents to each bank in which they want to have an account.

It will increase efficiency, reduce costs and make the client’s experience smoother. The idea is not particularly new and there are some companies which are already working in this space.

During the recent Singapore Fintech Festival in November 2016, IBM announced a blockchain project with Singapore fintech startup KYCK! to help enable financial institutions to have a more rapid on-boarding process

Another company, Slimpay, is also exploring opportunities in this space. It has broken down the process into steps, such as as ‘Paper KYC’ and ‘Internet KYC’ to help financial institutions.

In addition, a group of entrepreneurs have founded ComplyAdvantage in the United Kingdom with the aim of gathering better anti money laundering insights and helping banks to deal with the due diligence of customers.

All the best from Singapore.
Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Fintech business idea: SmartDeposit

I have a fintech idea ‒ actually I have more than one, but I will publish only this one as a start.

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The environment of low interest rates has pushed many investors to hunt for a yield, and this has led many super-risky asset prices to skyrocket.

Especially, the extended period of ultra-low interest rates has hit pension funds and insurance companies hard, since they have to generate a certain level of income to ensure their sustainability and the ability to pay their liabilities.

High-net-worth individuals and retail clients are not happy either, since their capital is not working for them for the first time in history. Some of them are even paying banks to deposit currencies such as the euro, yen and Swiss franc, since banks are demanding that these investors are charged interest instead of receiving interest from them.

There is nothing new until now …

Everybody who follows the financial markets knows these facts very well.

What if these investors still want to invest simply in plain vanilla deposits but are happy to take higher credit risks in countries such as Brazil, Turkey, Russia or India?

Because of their counterparts’ risk parameters, these pension funds and insurance companies are mainly stuck with high-credit banks, such as all tier 1 global banks, and tier 1 global banks cannot offer any sexy interest rates.

Here, my idea kicks in ‒ what if they could place their deposits with low-investment-grade banks or even banks with junk credit quality that pay a much higher level of interest if they are happy with the risk?

The reams of paperwork for all different types of different banks and the regulatory requirements are a big hassle at the moment.

What if we could create a platform that can place deposits with many different banks without opening an account in each bank and simply shift the deposits from one to another when another bank in the world becomes more attractive?

It may be hard to attract institutional money in the first instance, but I believe high-net-worth (HNW) individuals and retail clients would be happy to test the proposition.

To visualize the idea, let us say that we open an account with ICICI in India, Garantibank in Turkey, VTB in Russia and BTG in Brazil. Assuming that ICICI offers 2.5% p.a., Garanti offers 3% p.a., VTB offers 3.25% p.a. and BTG offers 4% p.a., we can compare these with a tier 1 bank’s 0.30% p.a. deposit rate.

The investor can choose to place his deposit with any institution on the platform, so the availability of different institutions is an important factor to be attractive to investors. Clients will be able to place a deposit in India for a month and then shift it to Brazil in the next month.

The platform would enable emerging market banks to have a diversified deposit base and access to non-conventional HNW and retail investors from all around the world.

Since we are not advising clients and the deposits are held in segregated accounts for the tech company, how should our fintech be regulated? Just like banks or differently? I believe we should be much more lightly regulated.

It is a kind of UBER of finance ‒ simply a technology company facilitating a service rather than a bank.

The main challenge for this fintech would be the KYC (know your customer). It should be possible to know who is placing deposits and that the funds are coming from legitimate sources. We can overcome this hurdle with the help of blockchain technology, which will enable each investor’s details and transactions to be stored safely.

In addition, there is a new business opportunity here to create a global KYC company in which the banks are also stakeholders so that a verified KYC could be used between different banks instead of providing each different bank with thick sets of paper.

Regulators are really the key in this business idea, and they will be the key in any fintech ideas. They will decide whether to kill the fintechs in favour of conventional banks or help them to thrive. Many regulators, such as those in Singapore, the UK and Switzerland, are really helping this industry to excel, so I am quite optimistic.

I will publish another fintech idea for retail clients next week. If you would like to exchange ideas and/or simply discuss matters, please keep in touch through my blog, twitter or email.

All the best from Singapore,

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: sukru_haskan

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