Know your business helps companies understand every aspect of the businesses they work with. KYB prioritises getting to know the company’s owners, shareholders, and suppliers before focusing on the customers. That is why, in the modern age, it is considered an integral part of compliance assurance across various industries, not just regulated ones.
Approximately 19% of all online purchases by B2B merchants are fraud attempts. In Australia, B2B invoice fraud cost $91.4 million in the last financial year, according to the ACCC’s Targeting Scams report.
Thus, Know Your Business practices are helpful since they assist an organisation in verifying corporate and personal information related to the higher management of the client organisation. By utilising a KYB system, one may be able to detect red flags for the financing of terrorism or money laundering if suspicious activity is detected. In other words, having up-to-date information in one location can assist in identifying and mitigating AML risks and ensuring compliance with all relevant regulations.
Why is KYB Verification Important?
Financial institutions need KYB verification to assess fraudulent activity associated with corporate clients. For a company to be able to do business with another company, KYB compliance is essential. Business owners, shareholders, or money launderers who misappropriate or launder their income should be identified by companies.
To determine whether they are dealing with legal or shell corporations, KYB applications verify the legitimacy of companies. Corporate clients are more complex to work with by their very nature than individual clients. A more comprehensive research approach is required, and it usually involves a variety of people, which enables the framework for understanding to be broader.
Financial institutions are also required to verify KYB. It should be regarded as a high priority considering the consequences of failing to perform KYB verification processes correctly.
Know Your Business (KYB) vs Know Your Customer (KYC)
It is important to note that Know Your Business and Know Your Customer have many similarities. Their common objective is to comply with AML regulations to ensure the safety of financial transactions and prevent money laundering. Customers or consumers must comply with KYC regulations and procedures if they are named individuals. Furthermore, KYB regulations have been developed to address cases involving corporations or businesses. This KYB regulation will apply to any business-to-business service provider.
How do KYB Checks Help With Compliance?
Before beginning the onboarding process, these checks assist firms in assessing an individual’s or business’ suitability. Also included in KYB checks are persons of significant control, politically exposed persons, and ultimate beneficial owners, all of whom have the potential to be classified as high-risk customers. An organisation may be required to adjust its approach if it decides to work with a client or customer who represents a greater risk. To keep track of any status changes, you may need to perform enhanced due diligence or conduct more comprehensive ongoing monitoring.
What is Required to Verify a Company?
A company’s identity verification is a complex and delicate task. The KYB process must be adapted to each entity based on its unique characteristics. Know Your Business verification procedures generally involve the following:
Document Verification of Company Registration
To determine whether the business is legitimate and active, the KYB reviews the business registration and license. Providing as many details as possible will make it easier to verify the company’s existence.
Verifying the Beneficial Owner (UBO)
Understanding the company’s context requires gaining a deeper understanding of its members. Specifically, the Know Your Client (KYC) process must be utilised to identify the owners. Identifying the nature of the Ultimate Beneficial Owner network and its activities will enable the detection of illegal activity and the possibility of the company serving as a cover.
Investigate Adverse Media Coverage
When researching a company, it is essential to understand how it interacts with the environment thoroughly. For instance, knowing their relationship with suppliers or customers can help measure their risk.
Determination of PEP
The term PEP refers to politically exposed individuals. These individuals hold public positions, making them vulnerable to fraud, corruption, blackmail, and other abuses. Therefore, companies are exposed to greater risks (mainly if they are UBOs). Thus, verifying whether this type of profile is present in a company verification is necessary.
Checking for Blacklists
Data of individuals and businesses involved in illegal activities (or who have carried out illegal activities) is collected on sanctions lists. Checking whether a corporate client is included on these lists requires the analysis of large amounts of information and the cross-referencing of company names, aliases, and the identities of individuals. For KYB verification, however, this information is extremely valuable.
Why does KYB Matter?
Compared to other fraud mitigation techniques, Know Your Business is relatively new. Despite KYC regulations being in place since 2002, there was a loophole: business relationships received different scrutiny than individual relationships.
It was, therefore, possible for criminals to establish shell companies to defraud businesses or, more commonly, to disguise their identities by using legitimate businesses. Since business records were only briefly reviewed, fraudsters can launder money, fraud, fund terrorism, and commit other illegal activities without being personally screened.
As part of its Customer Due Diligence Requirements in 2016, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN) introduced new regulations regarding KYB. The standardised method of verifying the legitimacy of another company allows any business to work with another company.
What are KYB Procedures?
No specific instructions are provided in the CDD Rule regarding how each organisation should conduct KYB checks. The Know Your Business verification process includes the following:
- Business verification
- Identification of the UBOs
- Ongoing monitoring of risk and maintenance of updated customer information
AML laws, including the CDD Rule, are complied with due to the KYB process. The following data points must be collected and verified by companies to ensure compliance:
- The legal name of the company.
- The place where the company is located. Business operating addresses may differ from the registered address.
- A business entity’s registration status indicates its eligibility to conduct business.
- An entity must complete licensing documentation for legal operation.
- Verification of a corporation’s UBOs.
Who Needs KYB?
Following the 5th anti-money laundering directive, KYB is required for the following entities subject to AML regulations:
The identities of beneficial owners do not need to be verified for some corporate customers. Among them are:
- Markets within the European Economic Area (EEA) that are regulated, or those on non-EEA markets that are regulated;
- It has also been found that KYB verification services are advantageous for sectors that are not regulated, such as e-commerce and car sharing. A verification of this type aids in exposing shell suppliers and their owners.
Automated & Manual KYB
KYB involves a complex process that involves companies collecting, analysing, and managing vast amounts of data about businesses with which they are affiliated. It is typically more time-taking and hard to do this manually since it requires the following:
- Developing in-house compliance infrastructures;
- The screening of a multitude of watch lists, sanction lists, and PEP lists is often performed with a guarantee that the desired outcome will be achieved.
An automated workflow ensures compliance and seamless onboarding while verifying companies in real time. It is also important to note that human intervention is possible when tailored solutions are required. A hybrid approach considers the complex nature of certain company structures and the specific nature of certain industries.
Benefits of KYB
A new client or company registration is a time-consuming and costly process, both economically and in terms of personnel. It generally takes many hours to verify a company manually. Even so, it cannot be guaranteed to be error-free. By automating Know Your Business, verification time can be sped up, costs can be reduced, and much of the inefficiency and human error can be eliminated.
As KYB solutions can recognise digital modifications, they reduce the risk of counterfeit document fraud.
Using Know Your Business, the necessary information is extracted automatically from national and international databases. Additionally, it simplifies tracking users and entities due to the reduced work involved.
KYC and KYB are becoming increasingly expensive. Having to Know Your Business verification automated allows employees to focus on relevant and important tasks.
KYB must be performed continuously, not just during the registration process. With this automated solution’s help, you can access databases and create custom reports in real time. A company’s situation continuously changes, and its performance needs to be updated regularly. Controlling all stakeholders in an organisation is complex and requires considerable investigation.
Moreover, KYB can greatly facilitate the activities of banks, as they will have access to precious information regarding their clients due to the KYB. A deep understanding of customers to know which product or service business should be adapting.
Learn More About KYB Industries
The failure to implement a KYB process can put businesses in risky industries such as fintech and cryptocurrency. It is possible to experience significant financial, reputational, and regulatory risks due to ineffective Know Your Business measures and losses due to fraud and other criminal activities.
It is important to note that the potential for illicit activities is one of the main risks associated with not implementing a KYB process. Businesses may unknowingly facilitate illegal activities if KYB measures are not in place to protect them from being used as a front for criminal activity by criminals. Regulations may sanction the company, fine them, and damage its reputation.
Business entities may also be exposed to financial losses in the event of fraud, other criminal activity, and regulatory risks. If Know Your Business measures are not in place, fraud can be detected by using stolen identities or fabricating fake companies, which cannot be detected by businesses without KYB measures. Customers and the business may suffer financial losses as a result.
Furthermore, failure to implement KYB measures can damage a company’s reputation. Due to the rapid spread of information via the internet and social media today, any negative publicity can quickly spread across these platforms. When a company’s reputation is damaged, it may lose business, lose customer confidence, and be difficult to attract investors.
Lastly, businesses may also be subject to legal action if they fail to implement adequate KYB measures. The business may be held liable for damages if it facilitates money laundering or other criminal activities. Financial losses and legal fees may result as a result of this.
Challenges of Know Your Business
Companies do not wish to be found non-compliant with KYB, as they do not want to be penalised and may even be forced into bankruptcy. Know Your Business is, however, a rigorous and complex process, and there are legitimate obstacles that prevent companies from complying with it. The following are some of the challenges that banks and financial institutions face when it comes to KYB:
One of the main challenges in achieving high-performance in-life monitoring is the existence of silos within financial institutions, where not all information is shared equally among the staff. The division of retail banking and corporate banking may sometimes require a compartmentalized approach. However, siloed approaches often result from existing operating patterns, with Know Your Business and risk management teams being isolated from one another regarding information exchange.
KYB’s Complexity and Unwillingness to Adapt
As a result of the growing digitalisation of financial services and constant regulatory changes across numerous jurisdictions, organisations in the financial services industry have had difficulty managing to Know Your Business. In some circumstances, RegTech has been gradually adopted to automate KYB processes, but its adoption has been slow. Using new technology may be difficult for businesses due to a desire to avoid disrupting service and losing high-value clients. The issue may also be one of trust.
KYB is Time-Consuming
Numerous banks automate KYB verification to comply with Anti-Money Laundering requirements and secure their business clients. Electronic authentication is made simple by several KYB compliance programs. Even with automation, KYB remains time-consuming. This is because banks continuously verify the information of their business clients and continuously monitor their activities without disrupting the services offered to their clients online. Further checks are conducted on the ultimate beneficial owner’s identity and watchlist to confirm that they do not appear on sanctions lists. Client satisfaction and compliance take time, and many banks need help to strike a balance between the two.
Cost of KYB
According to 58% of financial institutions, obtaining data on the Ultimate Beneficial Owner is the greatest challenge. In contrast, banks claim to spend around $70 million (64 million euros) on global customer due diligence and Know Your Business yearly. It is common among financial institutions that excessive contact with customers, inconsistent demands, and security issues are their most significant pet peeves, while they are also concerned about clients not cooperating, conflicting regulatory requests, and penalties for non-compliance.
What are KYB Verification Documents?
Anti-money laundering laws stipulate a set of documents that must be submitted for a particular jurisdiction. Typically, the KYB checks obtain and verifies the following documents on behalf of legal entities:
- Incorporation or registration certificate
- Extracted from a state company registry
- Incumbency certificate
- Good standing certificate
- The incorporation/association/registration memorandum
- Similarly structured documents
In the Nutshell
KYB automation has historically been a challenging process for a variety of reasons. At different stages of the Know Your Business chain, various providers are required to obtain exhaustive data or perform checks. Bringing these solutions together, maintaining, and orchestrating them comes with several technical challenges, as well as friction in contracting and negotiating with vendors. Furthermore, the specificities of regional regulation and risk profiles add yet another layer of complexity. There are still certain instances in which human intervention is required, such as dealing with a back-and-forth with customers and reviewing unstructured documents.
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