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Overview of KYC

Team AckoJan 18, 2024

In today's digital age, where online transactions have become increasingly prevalent, ensuring the security and integrity of financial systems is of paramount importance. To combat fraud, money laundering, and terrorist financing, financial institutions and businesses employ a robust process known as KYC, which stands for Know Your Customer. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the KYC meaning, its significance, and the various aspects associated with it.




KYC Meaning Explained

KYC, short for Know Your Customer, refers to the process of verifying the identity of customers or clients before engaging in any business relationship. It involves gathering relevant information and conducting due diligence to assess the integrity, credibility, and potential risks associated with a customer.

Why is KYC Important?

KYC plays a crucial role in mitigating financial crimes and ensuring the safety and security of financial systems. By implementing a robust KYC process, financial institutions and businesses can:

  1. Prevent Money Laundering: KYC helps identify and prevent individuals or entities from using the financial system to launder money obtained through illegal activities.

  2. Combat Terrorism Financing: KYC measures aid in identifying and stopping the flow of funds to terrorist organisations, thereby contributing to national security efforts.

  3. Reduce Fraud: By verifying the identity of customers, businesses can minimise the risk of fraudulent activities, such as identity theft and impersonation.

  4. Protect Reputation: Implementing a strong KYC process safeguards the reputation of financial institutions and businesses, as it demonstrates their commitment to compliance and ethical practices.

  5. Comply with Regulations: KYC is a legal requirement in many jurisdictions to prevent financial crimes and ensure compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) regulations.

The KYC Process: Steps and Requirements

The KYC process involves several steps and requirements to ensure a thorough assessment of the customer's identity and risk profile. Let's delve into the key components of the KYC process:

1. Customer Identification Program (CIP)

Under the Customer Identification Program (CIP), businesses and financial institutions are required to collect and verify specific information about their customers. The essential elements typically include:

  • Name: Obtaining the customer's full legal name.

  • Date of Birth: Verifying the customer's date of birth to establish their age and legal status.

  • Address: Collecting the customer's current residential or business address.

  • Identification Documents: Requesting valid identification documents, such as a passport, driver's licence, or national ID card, to verify the customer's identity.

2. Risk Assessment

Conducting a risk assessment is an integral part of the KYC process. It involves evaluating the potential risks associated with a customer, based on factors such as their occupation, source of funds, and country of residence. This assessment helps financial institutions determine the level of due diligence required for each customer.

3. Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD)

In certain cases, where the risk level is higher, Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) measures are employed. EDD involves conducting a more comprehensive investigation and gathering additional information about the customer. This may include:

  • Source of Funds: Understanding the origin of the customer's funds and ensuring they are obtained through legitimate means.

  • Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs): Identifying whether the customer is a politically exposed person, meaning they hold a prominent public position that could potentially be abused for money laundering or corruption.

  • Screening Against Sanctions Lists: Checking the customer's name against government-sanctioned lists to ensure they are not associated with individuals or entities involved in illegal activities.

4. Ongoing Monitoring

KYC is not a one-time process but rather an ongoing obligation. Financial institutions and businesses are required to monitor their customers' transactions and behaviour continuously. This allows them to identify and report any suspicious activities promptly.

What is eKYC?

eKYC, short for Electronic Know Your Customer or Electronic Know Your Client, is a process used in India to electronically verify the identity and address of customers through Aadhaar authentication. Aadhaar is India's national biometric electronic identification scheme.

The popularity of eKYC in India can be attributed to the fact that 99% of the adult population in the country possesses a digital identity. As of January 2022, approximately 1.3 billion residents have been assigned an Aadhaar number.

In addition to Aadhaar authentication, eKYC also encompasses other methods such as capturing information from identification documents using OCR (Optical Character Recognition), extracting digital data from government-issued smart IDs with embedded chips through physical verification, and using certified digital identities and facial recognition for online identity verification. This allows customer onboarding to be conveniently carried out through mobile devices.

eKYC, also known as online KYC, is becoming increasingly feasible due to the improving accuracy facilitated by the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Here are some answers to the following questions related to KYC.


1. What is the purpose of KYC? 

KYC serves the purpose of verifying the identity of customers, preventing money laundering, combating terrorism financing, reducing fraud, protecting reputation, and complying with regulations.

2. Which industries require KYC compliance? 

KYC compliance is essential in various industries, including banking, insurance, cryptocurrency, investment firms, and online marketplaces.

3. Is KYC a legal requirement? 

Yes, KYC is a legal requirement in many jurisdictions, mandated by anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) regulations.

4. What documents are accepted for KYC verification? 

Generally, valid identification documents such as a passport, driver's licence, or national ID card are accepted for KYC verification.

5. What is Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD)?

Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) is a more in-depth investigation and gathering of additional information about customers when the risk level is higher.

6. How often should KYC information be updated? 

KYC information should be updated periodically, especially when there are significant changes in a customer's profile or risk profile.


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