Financial messaging network Swift has announced the creation of a global Know Your Customer (KYC) Registry to help banks to manage compliance challenges and reduce the high costs associated with implementing anti-money laundering regulations.
Swift says the Registry is currently under development and will go live in 2014.
The new utility will provide users with access to a central repository of up-to-date institutional information shared by participating banks. The banking co-operative will host and manage the utility, verifying the completeness, validity and accuracy of the data provided, whilst member banks will retain ownership of and responsibility for their own information.
The KYC Registry will initially focus on correspondent banking requirements, says Swift, but may subsequently be extended to eoncompass other due dilligence processes.
Yawar Shah, chairman, Swift, says: "This is a natural evolution for Swift as an industry-wide cooperative, extending its strategic offering beyond payments and securities into compliance services."
Swift first tested the regulatory waters in 2012 with the launch of a sanctions screening service for smaller and mid-size financial institutions. The service has since been taken up by more than 100 customers across 50 countries, and parses over 30,000 messages per day.
The idea of extending Swift's remit further into the compliance space was first aired at the Society's annual user forum Sibos in September, where it earned heavyweight support from Samir Assaf, chief executive of global banking and markets at HSBC. In an opening plenary session at Sibos, Assaf called on the industry to develop collaborative compliance solutions where there is no economic merit to competition.
With the backing of the board, Swift has created a dedicated Compliance Services unit to manage its growing financial crime portfolio. Swift's head of banking markets Luc Meurant has been appointed to lead this new unit and is building a team of sanctions, KYC and anti-money-laundering (AML) industry experts to provide the service.
"Collecting and maintaining up-to-date information about other institutions and performing due diligence checks on correspondent banking partners are time-consuming and duplicative tasks for banks," says Meurant. "By developing a central, global KYC Registry, Swift can help banks reduce KYC-related costs and mitigate compliance-related risks, enabling them to manage better their financial crime compliance processes."
In addition to the KYC Registry, Meurant says Swift will also introduce a business intelligence suite to assist banks in monitoring compliance risks by looking at their Swift activity globally, and comparing it with overall traffic on the network.