SWIFT Introduces KYC Registry, Financial Crime Compliance Unit

Financial messaging provider SWIFT has announced the creation of its global know your customer (KYC) registry, a centralised utility for collecting and distributing standard information required by banks as part of their due diligence processes. Based on a collaborative industry-wide approach, the new utility is intended to help banks manage compliance challenges and reduce the high costs associated with implementing KYC-related regulations.

Currently under development, the KYC registry is slated to go live this year. The service will provide banks with access to a central repository of up-to-date institutional information collected by SWIFT from participating banks. SWIFT will host and manage the utility, verifying the accuracy of the data, while member banks will retain ownership of and responsibility for their own information. The KYC registry will initially focus on correspondent banking requirements, but SWIFT may subsequently extend the service.

The board has given SWIFT a strong mandate to address the financial crime compliance needs of banks worldwide,” said Yawar Shah, chairman, SWIFT. “This is a natural evolution for SWIFT as an industry-wide cooperative, extending its strategic offering beyond payments and securities into compliance services.”

Gottfried Leibbrandt, chief executive (CEO) of SWIFT, added that compliance with financial crime regulation is one of the major challenges that banks face globally. “Customers have been asking us to provide industry-wide solutions to streamline their associated processes, cut cost and reduce risk,” he said.

With financial crime compliance now at the top of the international regulatory agenda, SWIFT has created a dedicated compliance services unit to manage its growing compliance services offering. SWIFT has appointed Luc Meurant, head of banking markets and compliance services, to lead the unit. He is building a team of sanctions, KYC and anti-money-laundering (AML) industry experts to serve the needs of financial institutions worldwide.

“KYC compliance presents a major challenge for many banks,” said Meurant. “Collecting and maintaining up-to-date information about other institutions and performing due diligence checks on correspondent banking partners are time-consuming and duplicative tasks for banks. By developing a central, global KYC registry, SWIFT can help banks reduce KYC-related costs and mitigate compliance-related risks, enabling them to manage better their financial crime compliance processes.”

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