South African Fintech Startup Sets New African Record

ThisIsMe has successfully completed the fastest FICA 'Know Your Customer' compliance process on the continent


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ThisIsMe, a South African identity verification startup, announced that it has set the African record for the FICA process.  

In a media release, the fintech startup says they completed the process within three minutes, whereas it would take anywhere from two days to two weeks.

"ThisIsMe has set a new African record for the compliance process known as Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and in doing so have also set a new record for the fastest FICA in South Africa," said Mark Chirnside, CEO, ThisIsMe.

KYC is a  key component of the The Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment (FICA) Act 2017, which is aimed at combating financial crimes such as money laundering, terrorist funding and fraud, and was signed into law in April 2017. The Act requires accountable institutions (AI), such as banks, estate agents, attorneys and businesses providing money remittance services, long-term insurance services and foreign exchange, among others,to consider the potential risks involved with establishing a business relationship or concluding a single transaction with a client. 

ThisIsMe's business solution and app – available on iOS and Android's Play Store – is able to  verify an individual's identity to other individuals, businesses, financial institutions and regulators. It does so using links to the Department of Home Affairs and the major banks, says CEO Mark Chirnside.

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 process of FICA onboarding has increased costs for institutions to between R300 and R1500 for each client.

Explains Chirnside, "ThisIsMe’s digital platform makes it faster, more cost effective and there are fewer errors. The entire process is completed digitally, with machine learning technology ensuring that documents aren’t tampered with."

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. The product not only solves regulatory issues and reduces back office costs for these institutions but also improves overall customer experience. This is a great win-win."

It is not only financial institutions that require FICA systems. AIs include businesses in property, retail, eCommerce, SMMEs, gambling and other sectors too. 

The fintech attracted $2.5 million in funding in 2016 and has processed more than one million verifications. It is expanding into African and international markets and counts Investec and Silica as customers. 

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