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SWIFT has 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 a successful testing period with 18 leading corporate groups including Saudi Chevron Phillips Company, BMW, Spotify and Unilever which was supported by 16 global banks representing 7,000 corporate to bank relationships on SWIFT.

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to their corporate customers for information and search for data across multiple sources which is often incomplete or out of date.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.

Bart Claeys, Head of KYC and Reference Data at SWIFT said: “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. 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 that simplify the KYC process for all participants involved.”

Onur Ozan, Head of the Middle East, Turkey & North Africa, SWIFT, says: “Extending the KYC Registry to corporates in the region simplifies what is normally a complex, burdensome and time-consuming compliance requirement for companies and their banking partners. The regulatory landscape around fraud and anti-money laundering is fast evolving and highly demanding in the Middle East and has a great impact on how companies and banks conduct business. SWIFT’s KYC for Corporates will offer regional clients a seamless process to exchange standardised KYC data over a flexible and secure shared platform.”

Shayan Rafi, Acting Treasurer for Saudi Chevron Phillips Company said: “It’s very positive to see SWIFT continue to invest resources into solving the KYC problem for corporate treasurers. We have enjoyed exchanging ideas with banks and corporates and providing insights from our perspective over the past year to help shape this solution, and look forward to reaping the benefits of SWIFT’s KYC Registry for years to come.”

Kristina Möller, Treasury Director at Spotify AB said: “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. 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.”

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