South African fintech startup, ThisIsMe says it has set an African record for the FICA process which can now be completed within three minutes versus anywhere from two days to two weeks previously.
“Consumers that have used ThisIsMe explain that they are delighted to skip queues and register new accounts within minutes instead of days, from anywhere in the world,”said Mark Chirnside, CEO at ThisIsMe.
The Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment (FICA) Act 2017 was signed into law after much delay, in April 2017.
FICA was implemented by the South African government to help prevent illegal financial activity and requires several documents for identity purposes.
The process to establish and verify the identities of clients has largely been paper based with clients having to arrive at a bank branch, for instance, for face-to-face identification. This tedious process of FICA onboarding has increased costs for institutions to between R300 and R1500 for each client, said ThisIsMe.
The Act is therefore more onerous on accountable institutions (AIs) slowing down the process and making it more expensive, it pointed out.
In the past, clients typically had to provide simple information like proof of identity, address and bank account but the new regulations require a more in-depth investigation to evaluate the risk of the client.
Institutions need to check aspects such as whether their clients come from a higher risk country, the nature of their business relationships and connections to influential people like members of government.
“ThisIsMe’s digital platform makes it faster, more cost effective and there are fewer errors. The entire process is completed digitally, with machine learning technology ensuring that documents aren’t tampered with. In addition, we are able to ensure that a client’s information is regularly updated and secured. With a client’s permission, we are able to verify that a client is indeed who they say they are,” said Chirnside.
It is not only financial institutions that require FICA systems. AIs include businesses in property, retail, eCommerce, SMMEs, gambling and other sectors too.