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SA fintech sets FICA record

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Fintech startup ThisIsMe has set an African record for the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment (FICA) process. Instead of the more usual two days to two weeks, it has completed the process within three minutes.
“ThisIsMe has set a new African record for the compliance process known as Know Your Customer (KYC) and in doing so have also set a new record for the fastest FICA in South Africa,” says Mark Chirnside, CEO of ThisIsMe. “Consumers that have used ThisIsMe are delighted to skip queues and register new accounts within minutes instead of days, from anywhere in the world.”
The more stringent, risk-based FICA Act 2017 was signed into law, after much delay, in April 2017. The Act is more onerous on accountable institutions (AIs), slowing down the process and making it more expensive.
the key amendment is a shift from a rules-based approach to a risk-based approach in ensuring FICA compliance. This means that AIs must consider the potential risk involved with establishing a business relationship or concluding a single transaction with a client. The intention of the new regulations is to combat financial crimes such as money laundering, terrorist funding and fraud.
The process to establish and verify the identities of clients has largely been paper based with clients having to arrive at a bank branch, for instance, for face-to-face identification. This tedious process of FICA onboarding has increased costs for institutions to between R300 and R1 500 for each client.
Chirnside EXPLAINS: “ThisIsMe’s digital platform makes it faster, more cost effective and there are fewer errors. The entire process is completed digitally, with machine learning technology ensuring that documents aren’t tampered with.
“In addition, we are able to ensure that a client’s information is regularly updated and secured. With a client’s permission, we are able to verify that a client is indeed who they say they are.”
In the past, clients typically had to provide simple information like proof of identity, address and bank account but the new regulations require a more in-depth investigation to evaluate the risk of the client. Institutions need to check aspects such as whether their clients come from a higher risk country, the nature of their business relationships and connections to influential people like members of government.
Institutions need to take this very seriously – if they are proven to do business with a criminal client, the institution will be subject to legal action and fines (not just the client).
ThisIsMe is a gold member of AlphaCode, a club for fintech entrepreneurs.
Dominique Collett, head of AlphaCode, SAYS: “ThisIsMe is a great example of how fintech businesses can add real value to financial services businesses. They have developed a business model around solving a real pain point for banks, asset managers and insurers. The product not only solves regulatory issues and reduces back office costs for these institutions but also improves overall customer experience. This is a great win-win.”