SA startup sets record for fastest FICA registration

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An African record has been set for the quickest FICA process finalisation in three minutes by South African fintech startupThisIsMe.

The more stringent, risk based The Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment (FICA) Act 2017 was signed into law, after much delay, in April 2017. The Act is more onerous on accountable institutions (AIs) slowing down the process and making it more expensive.

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 R1 500 for each client.

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,” explains Mark Chirnside, CEO of ThisIsMe.

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 is a gold member of AlphaCode, a club for fintech entrepreneurs. Dominique Collett, head of AlphaCode says, “ThisIsMe is a great example of how fintech businesses can add real value to financial services businesses. They have developed a business model around solving a real pain point for banks, asset managers and insurers.”