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SWIFT Opens Its KYC Registry to Corporates

– Global registry now open to SWIFT’s corporate customers
– Go-live follows testing period with 18 corporate groups supported by 16 global banks

SWIFT today announced the opening of its global Know Your Customer (KYC) registry to SWIFT-connected corporate groups, enabling them to manage and share KYC data with their banking partners across the globe. The go-live for corporates follows what the organization says was a successful testing period with 18 leading corporate groups including BMW, Spotify and Unilever which was supported by 16 global banks representing over 7,000 corporate to bank relationships on SWIFT.

“By participating in SWIFT’s working group, we were able to collaborate with our banking partners and other corporate groups to address challenges faced by both sides of the KYC process,” said Rosanna Summerville, Manager Global Transaction Banking & Processes at Unilever. “The result means we can now upload our data in a standardised format to SWIFT’s KYC Registry, reducing the need to provide data in multiple formats to each of our banking partners, who in turn will no longer have to request KYC data every time they need it, delivering efficiencies for us both,” she added.

KYC continues to be one of the biggest challenges in the compliance space, both for financial institutions and corporates. Over 90% of treasurers report that responding to KYC requests is more challenging today than it was five years ago. In addition, over 50% reduced the number of banks they work with to avoid lengthy KYC processes, negatively impacting banking relationships.

Corporate groups work with multiple banking partners across the globe, many of which are in different regulatory jurisdictions. This means that corporate treasurers have to provide KYC data in multiple formats, often through bilateral exchanges, in order to meet the regulatory requirements of each partner, which is costly, time-consuming and inefficient.

Banking partners on the other hand, have to reach out to their corporate customers for information and search for data across multiple sources which is often incomplete or out of date. In many cases, they are forced to repeatedly follow up with existing customers as part of regular KYC reviews which is cumbersome and can place strain on relationships.

Established in 2014, SWIFT’s KYC Registry simplifies the process by providing access to a secure platform for banks, and now corporates, to share KYC data with banking partners. Corporate groups benefit from the ability to structure their KYC data in accordance with a standardised baseline, agreed by banks and corporates across the globe and have their data checked by SWIFT for completeness.

They will also be able to comply with data privacy rules by remaining in control of their data, deciding which banks have access to their KYC data and having the ability to update their records in real-time.

“Our global KYC registry is already delivering huge benefits to the 5,000 banks and financial institutions which are currently using it, and we are excited to extend these benefits to SWIFT’s community of corporate groups,” said Bart Claeys, Head of KYC and Reference Data at SWIFT. “It will speed up corporate payments, while providing the assurance of being fully compliant with KYC requirements. Collaborating with banks and corporates has provided detailed insights into the current barriers to effective KYC due diligence and, through our global platform, we will continue this work to provide solutions which simplify the KYC process for all participants involved,” Claeys added.

Analysts have long said that compliance issues are a necessary burden to many companies. “KYC is a time-consuming process for us, and it is great that SWIFT has started this initiative which has led to good discussions with other corporates,” said Kristina Möller, Treasury Director at Spotify AB. “We are also happy to see that the banking community is supporting this initiative and that we are all working towards the same goal – targeting to reduce the administrative burden of KYC. This is especially interesting for us as we continue to grow and enter complex markets, where KYC can be overwhelming,” she added.

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