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Technology streamlines FICA, due-diligence

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With the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) Amendment Bill due to be passed in the next couple of months, Mark Chirnside, CEO at ThisIsMe, says continuing to invest in measures to ensure compliance as an accountable institution (AI) remains a top priority in the financial sector.
“In broad terms, FICA provides for the establishment of a regulatory body and introduces mechanisms aimed at combatting money laundering and terrorism funding, mandating compliance by institutions that might otherwise be exploited for money laundering purposes,” he says.
“This has seen a number of local banks and many other financial institutions actively putting compliance strategies in place through the FICA technology platform, that effectively allows them to streamline processes as well as save on overall costs.”
Chirnside explains that the first-to-market ThisIsMe platform is aligned with the proposed FICA Amendment Bill’s new risk-based focus on verifying the identity of each client, and in line with the forthcoming ongoing customer due diligence requirements.
“To remain compliant as an AI as defined by FICA, finance organisations will continue to be required to identify all customers, verify all the information gathered in the identification process, as well as keep records up to date of all this information and documentation.
“This naturally intensifies the administrative process for both financial institutions and consumers as they now need to gather and verify information from multiple and changing sources to ensure fraud, money laundering and other suspicious activities become more difficult to perpetrate,” he adds.
“In addition, the proposed ongoing due diligence requirements, means that all the customers’ data will need to be stored and reviewed, greatly adding to the already overwhelming administrative burden.”
The key benefit of ThisIsMe is its ability to leverage technology to reduce the administrative burden for both AIs and consumers.
“Essentially ThisIsMe has been designed to streamline the collection of compliance documents through verifiable digital channels, and then goes on to verify the collected documents and data using trusted data sources, in a process referred to as triangulation.
“In addition, the AI has access to multiple and evolving sources of intelligence to assist in assessments. The platform is also able to share intelligence resources with multiple AIs by flagging all accountable institutions when suspicious activity is detected,” he adds.
For AIs ThisIsMe’s technology is being used to leapfrog global standards when it comes to addressing the current FICA Act and the imminent Amendment Bill’s requirements.
“The majority of information collected by AIs is taken at face value. Ultimately we believe FICA should foster a modernised culture of compliance to include true identification of customers.
“Increasingly business is being done remotely, and as such the FICA Amendment Bill should also address non-face-to-face verification requirements. Due to technology being used to introduce alternative sources of information such as smartphone location and biometrics, it seems logical to embrace these technologies,” Chirnside says.