03 Oct 2018 | 11.54 am
KYC Finds Asian Traction For Customer Onboarding
Dublin startup Know Your Customer specialises in regtech
03 Oct 2018 | 11.54 am
Regulatory technology is a burgeoning offshoot in financial services that’s been attracting entrepreneurs, including Claus Christensen (pictured), founder of Know Your Customer. KYC has developed an online and app platform to identify and verify companies and individuals for client onboarding in one day, compared with the industry average of 26 days.
Originally from Hamburg, Christensen (52) worked in various IT for 30 years. He founded Servolutions, which sells email server software worldwide, and he has known his co-founders, Richard Barrett and Cormac Doddy, for more than a decade.
“Know Your Customer provides end-to-end solutions to protect financial institutions from fraud, financial crime and money-laundering practices, preventing businesses from becoming unaware partners in crime of unscrupulous individuals and organisations,” Christensen explains.
KYC provides its services in three bundles and Christensen is coy on the exact pricing. The premium onboarding package allows for geo-localised digital signatures of contracts using a mobile app, as well as a business intelligence dashboard and API integration.
First-hand experience of manual customer checks prompted the formation of the venture, says Christensen. “Although we use our mobile phones for basically everything, there is one process in the banking and finance industry that is still manual: onboarding new customers and checking them against money laundering regulations. We thought this is a great business opportunity for automation.”
KYC’s founders live in three continents, which prompted them to consider early expansion abroad. Doddy spent years working in China for Treasury Holdings, so it made sense to consider Asia as an office location.
“We have offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai because of the importance of the Asian and specifically the Chinese markets for our growth. Our first major client is based in China,” Christensen adds.
Know Your Customer clients include banks, wealth managers, law firms and crypto currency startups. According to Christensen: “The world we are in now demands a much more dynamic process covering the entire life of the relationship with the client, and compliance is now everyone’s job, from the boardroom to the frontline. At the same time, regulations are becoming more onerous.”
KYC’s parent company is registered in Hong Kong and Christensen says that Enterprise Ireland has been useful in making connections there. The state agency has invested €250,000 in the venture, which recently signed a deal with the US software firm Neat, the company having launched its eponymous banking app in Hong Kong.
Know Your Customer, established in 2015, employs 33 people and is planning to raise significant funding in the coming months. “Building our product took us longer than we expected, and the length of the sales cycle when dealing with financial institutions is something that every entrepreneur should be aware of,” the entrepreneur cautions. “Everybody thinks ‘build it, and they’ll come’, but in reality it takes a lot of effort.”
Christensen’s advice to other startups is to look beyond Ireland. “Ireland is a fantastic starting point but there is a big world out there and you can scale much faster when you break into a large or fast-growing market elsewhere.”