Asean consortium in KYC blockchain first

OCBC Bank, HSBC and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), together with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), has become the first consortium in Southeast Asia to successfully complete a proof of concept (PoC) for a Know Your Customer (KYC) blockchain.

The development raises the possibility of using blockchain technology to make one of the most complex and highly-regulated of financial processes more efficient and secured, thereby combating anti-money laundering (AML) and the financing of terrorism (CFT).

The existing KYC process consists of submitting a set of identification documents each time an individual or corporate customer starts a new relationship with a bank. New relationships include opening an account, applying for a credit facility or buying an insurance policy.

KYC is currently conducted individually by banks, requiring customers to provide the same information to different institutions. It is a manual and paper-based process that can take weeks, as resources are spent validating multiple physical documents to ascertain the identity of the customer.

The KYC blockchain – running on a distributed ledger technology platform which enables structured information to be recorded, accessed and shared across a distributed network using advanced cryptography – allows banks to collect, validate and share customer information – with the customer’s consent .

The prototype’s performance was tested between February and May 2017 for its functionality, scalability and security. It remained stable even with a high volume of information flow, was resistant to tampering by third parties and maintained confidentiality by permitting access to the ledger’s information only with legitimate authentication.

Pranav Seth, head of e-business, business transformation and FinTech and innovation group at OCBC Bank, said: “This partnership fans the spirit of cooperation among competitors as well as regulatory and government bodies, and we hope this will help foster and inspire more of such collaborative innovation initiatives. Our pioneering efforts have resulted in a KYC process that will not only enhance customer convenience, but will improve the industry’s operating efficiencies while reducing financial fraud and crime.”

Beaver Chua, head of financial crime compliance at HSBC Singapore, added: “Financial crime has in the past had connotations of being ‘low impact’ but this belies the devastating effect it has on people and societies: it threatens livelihoods, ruins companies and bankrupts individuals. In the fight against financial crime, banks play a key role and sharing information is vital.”

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