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Major Banks Sign Up for SWIFT’s KYC Registry

SWIFT aims to cut complexity and cost in compliance with a new centralized registry for KYC information that will roll out later this year.

Several major banks including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Standard Chartered, Citi, J.P. Morgan Chase and Commerzbank have agreed to work with SWIFT’s KYC Registry, which is due to launch at the end of 2014. The registry will provide a centralized repository for information that banks must provide as part of their KYC due diligence, according to a statement released by SWIFT today at the SWIFT Business Forum announcing the agreement.

As regulators continue to hone in on banks’ KYC tools and processes, a central theme at the forum, the registry will aim to help financial institutions quickly access necessary information and cut costs related to KYC compliance. “KYC is the topic of 2014. This is what regulatory auditors and investigators are looking at right now,” said James Wills, senior business manager for banking initiatives standards for the Americas at SWIFT, at a session about the registry.

[For More On KYC Compliance: Navigating the Big Data Nuances of Financial Crimes]

SWIFT described the registry in its statement as “an industry-wide utility utility with an initial focus on correspondent banking relationships.” In agreeing to join the registry, the banks will join a working group to help standardize the Registry’s processes and the KYC information required to comply across several jurisdictions. The banks that are joining are also going to start entering their own KYC data into the depository.

SWIFT members will not be required to join the registry; participation is completely voluntary for members, SWIFT’s James Wills shared. SWIFT is aiming to add 500 banks to the registry by the end of this year and contribute their data, he added.

“Banks will have complete control over their information in the registry,” he explained to the audience. “You will get to determine who sees your data within the registry, and you can set the level of detail others can view.”

Many banks typically have staff that are compiling this data for each transaction on a manual basis, so providing a central repository will make finding and filling out the necessary a less costly task. “If I’m a bank and I work with 100 different institutions then I have to go out to each one of those institutions to get their data,” Wills explained.

“One of the major challenges with KYC activities is maintaining accurate information. Having a single, centralized registry for up-to-date KYC information will reduce the time, effort and cost related to gathering, accessing and sharing KYC information,” Pascal Auge, head of global transaction and payment services for Societe General, one of the other banks joining the registry, said via press release.

The registry is expected to go live at the end of this year with a ramp-up process beginning this summer, SWIFT’s statement said.

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Jonathan Camhi has been an associate editor with Bank Systems & Technology since 2012. He previously worked as a freelance journalist in New York City covering politics, health and immigration, and has a master's degree from the City University of New York's Graduate School ... View Full Bio

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