London (ViaNews) – At the Lendit Conference in London, we met with Claus Christensen, CEO at Know Your Customer Limited. This Hong Kong-headquartered multinational company provides digital solutions to quickly identify companies and individuals for the KYC (know your client) onboarding processes.
Know Your Customer Limited technological solution verifies original source documentation in record time. They streamline the client on-boarding process by reducing the average industry KYC onboarding time from 26 days to one day.
Miguel Salvado: Hello, how are you?
Claus Christensen: Very well, I’ve had a very good event here already, speaking earlier. It’s always good to engage with the audience.
What was your talk about?
I was talking about something that’s a side part of what we do, about digital identities, especially self-sovereign identities. I was debating with the audience and with my co-panelists if self-sovereign identities are the way to go or more federated identities. Basically, do you want the government to own your identity information, like as in a passport? Do you want a private company, like BankID in Scandinavia, to maintain this information? Or you want to own all this information yourself with the different context and dangers behind it?
How was the feedback from the audience when you presented that kind of issue?
I think everybody has had kind of a similar journey by now. At first, the concept of self-sovereign identity seems really compelling. You want to own your own data and you want to be the master of your identity. In the end, if you think about the general public, people will lose passwords; they will lose access to their identities if we don’t make it extremely easy. If we make it too easy, someone else will take over. There are a lot of problems associated with it.
Tell us a bit about Know Your Customer Limited. What do you guys do?
We’re a three-year-old startup concentrating on onboarding customers to financial institutions in a much easier way. Think about your last bank account opening experience. It’s usually painful because of the KYC (know who you are) process. This is ten times as painful if you’re a corporate customer. If you want to open a bank account or a brokerage account, anything for your company, you need to bring them a lot of documents, certificate of incorporation, a list of shareholders, annual returns, and all that with certified copies. We make that a lot easier by giving the financial institutions the same documents from trusted sources and processing them automatically.
What’s your unique value proposition? What are you guys bringing new to the market?
Automation basically. The problem is this whole process is manual at the moment. It’s actual paper, as in paper you can touch. It’s actual people who read those paper statements and find out about the true owners. We automate that part, so we make everything a lot faster and easier for both sides including the customer, the newly on boarded company, and the financial institution or staff that has to deal with all that.
Where are you guys located?
We’re multinational by now. We started out in Dublin but we have offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Shanghai. We’re 35 people and things are going well.
We’re now in London. With all this talk about Brexit, do you think it’s going to be detrimental to your industry?
In a way, yes, because the financial industry here in London is extremely strong. The City is such an important market for us. If they lose out, that’s a loss for us as well. On the other hand, we’re also in Dublin which is kind of a winner on that side, so we’ll see.
Nonetheless, regulation is not getting weaker; regulation is just growing even if Brexit really happened completely. And that won’t be reversed. Governments won’t suddenly decide terrorism and money laundering isn’t such a big problem. So the business will be on both sides.
Do you have any plans ahead for dealing with Brexit? Is your company preparing in any way?
We don’t actually need special preparation because we’re already outside Britain and inside Britain as well. We have a sale set-up here with staff, here in the UK, so we’ll continue to serve the UK market but we don’t need to do a big pullback or pullout, that’s unnecessary.
Any prospects for the future? What would you say are the biggest challenges for your industry?
RegTech (regulation technology) is what we do. The biggest problem there is always bringing this new technology into very traditionaly-oriented, big financial institutions. And it’s more about the internal dynamics of huge banks, for example, separated in compliance and operations that don’t have a holistic view at the moment. Those are continuing challenges; to bring in new technology in such an environment is by definition challenging.
You’re a CEO; could you share a good piece of advice with young entrepreneurs?
Concentrate on the sales side and don’t think “build it and they come”. You need to go out there and present to companies, present your solution, again and again, and get feedback, very early on. I’m much a proponent of an agile system. As we develop our solution in an agile way, incrementally, and always incorporating feedback, the same is true for business. Get feedback early and often.