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Treasury Management

SWIFT to Offer MNCs Another Way to Ease KYC Pain

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February 14, 2019

Move may mean added competition for Bloomberg's Entity Exchange

financial system softwareSWIFT's announcement this week that it plans to open its KYC Registry to corporations seeking relief from know-your-customer compliance headaches sets the stage for competition with other solutions, including one from Bloomberg that is favored by several NeuGroup members.

SWIFT, the international payments network, said that beginning in Q4 2019, all 2,000 SWIFT-connected corporates will be able to join the KYC Registry and use it “to upload, maintain and share their KYC information with their banks.”

That sounds a lot like what's offered by Entity Exchange, the Bloomberg product many NeuGroup members learned about this year after Coca-Cola's Jim Aschmeyer, director of international treasury, made it the centerpiece of his mission to find a solution to repeated, often redundant, requests by banks for KYC information and documentation.

SWIFT, when asked how its solution may differ from Bloomberg's, provided this statement from Bart Claeys, head of the organization's KYC compliance services team:

“What makes the KYC Registry particularly unique is its usability and track record as the proven industry reference, our ability to define standards, our technology, our know-how, the existing client base of more than 5,100 registered banks that are already on the platform and the immediate reach of the 2,000 odd multi-banked corporates connected to SWIFT. On top of that, there is the trust the industry places in the cooperative to store and manage sensitive KYC data – there's nothing comparable in the marketplace.”

So what took SWIFT so long to invite corporates to join after launching the registry in December 2014? A SWIFT spokesperson said the registry “began as a service for correspondent banks as that is what our community considered a priority.” He added that “the expansion of our registry to corporates was a natural step forward upon our community's request.”

Asked this week about SWIFT’s plans, a Bloomberg spokeswoman said the company does not comment on announcements from other organizations.

Mr. Aschmeyer at Coca-Cola pointed to his strong satisfaction with Entity Exchange when asked about the potential of SWIFT's offering. “We've got our solution and it's working better than we expected,” he said, citing Entity Exchange's flexibility, global taxonomy and the use of simple artificial intelligence.

“The more we use it, the more we're committed to it. It has already allowed us to transform our approach to tax document updates, and we are working with the Bloomberg team and like-minded corporate partners to make the system as user-friendly as possible,” he said. “This is the solution that will save Coca-Cola countless man-hours and, most critically, supports the much-needed transformation away from a focus on documents to a focus on data and ensuring that the data is maintained, so banks can obtain it whenever needed.”

Last fall, Mr. Aschmeyer joined representatives from Bloomberg and Citibank to discuss KYC compliance at NeuGroup's Global Cash and Banking Group meeting in New York. That followed the formation of a KYC Roundtable consisting of Citibank, Bloomberg, Coca-Cola and four other large Citi customers—Merck, UPS, Cargill and Procter & Gamble.

SWIFT, meanwhile, says “a large number of corporations are interested in participating” in its KYC pilot program but that “we are not yet able to disclose their names.”

Mr. Aschmeyer fully expects that banks now involved with Bloomberg Entity Exchange will also engage with corporates that use SWIFT's KYC Registry. But he said the ideal would be to have one platform so that banks could focus without distractions on scaling, leveraging and improving that single solution. That's why he will not use bank-specific KYC solutions.

“Ideally there would be a single bank-agnostic solution—one that can be scaled globally on day one,” he said. “It would be great to have everyone using a single solution, but it's not absolutely necessary.”

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