One of the biggest challenges in fighting money laundering is satisfying the KYC, or Know Your Customer, rules. These regulatory requirements make sense in concept -- they require financial companies to verify customers’ identities before letting them connect to the system, in order to screen out high-risk people and entities and as a foundation for meeting the legal mandate to monitor financial activity for potential crime. However, the traditional verification process has always been expensive and time-consuming. In recent years it’s also been creating new problems. My guest today has a company that is setting out to fix those. She is Laura Spiekerman, the Chief Revenue Officer of Alloy. The new problems are two-fold. One is that millions of people lack traditional identity documents and therefore can’t gain access to the system at all. That isn’t actually a new issue -- it’s always been true -- but it’s becoming more acute because mobile technology is making it possible for more and more people to connect to the financial system through their phones, if they can identify themselves. In much of the developing world, hundreds of millions of people cannot, because they lack formal ID documents (a factor that tends to disproportionately harm women, members of disfavored minorities and people with low incomes). Having large swaths of the population detached from mainstream finance, in turn, undermines economic growth and opportunity. As a result, many central banks throughout the world view KYC modernization as a top priority. For example, see my episode with Sanjay Jain who was one of the leaders of the India stack on their project that is connecting everyone in India to the financial system and mainstream commerce. Some governments are trying to create customer identity through biometric identification. Global organizations ranging from The World Bank to the Gates Foundation and the Omidyar Network (where I am a Senior Advisor) have all elevated AML as a core goal in their efforts to wide financial inclusion. The KYC barrier also impacts consumers in the United States, including many young people and immigrants or, say, people who have moved frequently. If a financial company cannot verify identity by investing a reasonable level of time and effort, it usually will not open an account. The second problem with the current KYC process hits the US and other developed countries even more directly. We still rely on traditional identity information like name, address and Social Security number that is, quite simply, no longer secure -- it’s widely for sale on the dark web. (Re-listen to our episode with Greg Kidd of globaliD) for more insight on that). The solution to both problems -- both access and insecurity -- is the same: more data and better technology. Alloy is bringing these into KYC. The company enables real-time decisioning through an API that lets a financial institution access the data it needs, in a fully transparent way, and that also provides a rules engine to control how to waterfall the data to put it into a rule. I spoke to Laura at the Comply 2018 conference in New York this year -- you’ll hear some of the conference bustle in the background. In our conversation, Laura describes the impact Alloy can make. In retail banking, they’ve been able to automate about 98% of decisions for onboarding, as opposed to a standard of about 50%. Once the remaining 2% are sent to manual review, they have also been able to reduce manual review times by about 95%, while also seeing reductions in fraud and increases in conversions, seemingly a win-win for all. Laura also shares her advice for other fintechs, including how to overcome the many barriers faced by regtech firms in trying to work with financial institutions. She talks about Alloy’s plans for building AI into their solutions. And she offers advice to regulators. Like me, she’s hopeful that the regulatory landscape is increasingly...
of , which is