What is KYC and why is Digital KYC such an integral part of progress

‘Know Your Customer’ or ‘KYC’ – as is the popular term for identity verification – follows a citizen like a shadow, throughout life, for a range of rights and services, intricately linked to one’s progress from education to employment to healthcare and finance. Imagine the lack of education for lack of KYC; or lack of employment for lack of KYC – progress would just be a mirage.

Now, an identity is born with every new birth. In fact by the time you finish your day today, a staggering 360,000 children will be eligible for an identity document. It begins with the benign birth certificate followed by school certificates, national identity cards, social security, driving license, passport and so on. Identity largely exists in physical form and is usually carried for life. However, there is still 1/4th the population without a valid identity and only 3% of the world’s population have a unique digital ID that can be used for KYC purposes across public and private services, both offline and online.

Identity ecosystems across the world (World Bank ID4D database)

KYC essentially refers to who you are and can you prove it. And, technically, from a service provider’s perspective, what do we know about you and how do we verify it’s indeed you. Typically, verifying the details of the ID and the photograph proves one’s identity. This is easier face to face whereby the identity is verified against the physical self. However, it gets harder when the physical self needs to be verified against the digital identity. Nonetheless, as several nations such as India, Estonia, Belgium, Finland and Singapore have shown, it is entirely plausible, even desirable to have Digital KYC solutions, that can be used seamless by consumers, both offline and online.

Many countries have leveraged people’s physical identities to create a digital KYC ecosystem to verify and authenticate users in a safe manner. Emerging technologies, such as DigiLocker and Kyzo have the potential to truly transform the way we presently engage with KYC. These technologies provide the much-needed bridge toward digital identity (extending the physical identities) that can reliably be used to verify and authenticate citizens – even remotely – for a range of products and services.

Why are products such as Kyzo, in the digital KYC space, so important? According to a report by McKinsey, nations implementing digital identity solutions can increase their GDP between 3-13 percent and have inclusive growth. Inclusive growth purports to give everybody an equal shot at economic prosperity. And, without an identity, and in particular a digital identity, people are likely to be excluded from the very opportunities that inclusive growth could otherwise provide. While there is an inherent risk that digital KYC services are subject to misuse and fraud, careful design, stronger background verifications and multi factor authentication can drastically reduce such risks, and may even reduce fraud in the long run. With businesses as well as consumers’ faith growing in favour of emerging technologies to verify and authenticate users remotely, digital KYC seems like the natural progression toward greater inclusion and economic progress.

About FRSLABS: We are an award-winning research and development company creating digital identity and fraud prevention solutions for consumers and businesses. Did you know, we are the creators of the ground-breaking digital KYC App KYZO? It allows citizens to securely store and share their Digital KYC through a simple QR scan. Experience KYZO from Google Play Store. Coming soon for iOS.

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