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The new standard in Address Assurance

The new standard in Address Assurance

1 December 2020

Article by Réka Wilson

My role involves researching and developing digital products to solve common financial services business needs, creating and implementing the product strategies as well as actively being involved in user research.

Developing and implementing a seamless and cost-effective automated client onboarding process is critical to business success. The ongoing monitoring of these clients is also crucial to ensure that financial services businesses stay firmly on the right side of everchanging regulation. An integral part of this process is address assurance. By adopting an digital identity solution, this element of the onboarding and ongoing monitoring processes can be digitised, creating efficiencies, cost savings and ensuring the results of these checks have a high accuracy. For the client, it provides quick turnaround times and requires minimal effort and consistency, which ensures the highest of service level expectations are met.

The challenge

Many clients of financial services firms are globally mobile, making them harder to verify as resident at one particular address, while many Middle Eastern and North African clients often use a PO Box instead of a residential address.

Fraud is also an ongoing challenge. When it comes to address fraud, intentional deception has become a considerable issue for organisations and has contributed to financial losses mounting into trillions worldwide. According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are 3.2 million identity theft and fraud reports worldwide each year, with the annual cost of fraud in the UK estimated to be at £190bn, according to the National Crime Agency and $5trillion worldwide, according to Crowe.

A key component in many fraud cases relates to false identity documents, which includes proof of address. The current standard of obtaining a copy of a utility bill as a form of proof of identity and proof of address is outdated and presents several challenges. One fundamental problem with relying on utility bills to verify residential addresses is that due to little or no security measures in their issuance, they can be easily forged. Furthermore, technical advancements have made it significantly easier for anyone to leverage questionable online resources to produce a convincing forgery. The usage of utility bills for address assurance presents an additional challenge in an era where processes are increasingly digitised by organisations, producing electronic invoices.

These types of challenges, in addition to complications that have resulted from the global pandemic (limited travel, leading to some people being resident at one address for a sustained period when they wouldn’t normally be), means that address assurance can be a difficult task to undertake but remains an absolutely necessary one. With regulators across the world increasingly wanting to see annual identity verification checks undertaken, as well as at the onboarding stage, digitising this process is a must.

Digitising the process can increase client satisfaction and retention

For clients, providing KYC documents to their bank, trust company, advisors or other service providers is an arduous process that has to be undertaken at the point of onboarding and regularly afterwards. If the process is not smooth and straightforward, it can, at worst, lead to new clients walking away and, at best, leave them feeling that the organisation they are dealing with is incompetent. Clients also entrust their service provider with their personal data – a big step for many. They have to trust this service provider entirely, making it essential for firms to have a personal data collection and verification process that builds client trust, not erodes it.

Is digitising this process simple?

As we are seeing more and more onboarding and monitoring processes (at Vaiie we refer to this as the Customer Lifecycle Management) becoming automated or digitised, you would be forgiven for thinking that undertaking these identity checks would be simple. This is not the case with current processes deployed. To achieve the highest levels of accuracy requires a specialist partner that can deliver the highest levels of assurance needed to satisfy robust compliance standards and regulators. Fully owned by Jersey Post, Vaiie has access to channels and tools that can simplify this process, while also ensuring its clients are in control of every touchpoint.

How should the Address Assurance process work?

We feel passionately that it is up to the solution provider to take a complicated process and simplify it, creating a seamless user experience. The users must have access to an intuitive and accessible platform that delivers verification in a timely manner, with minimal to no impact on the customer journey, requiring little input from the user and no inconvenience to the client being verified. The dashboard should enable the user to see in real time what clients need to do and what elements of the assurance process they have completed. This approach ensures the organisation knows at any one time exactly what stage each onboarding is at or if annual verification is due or overdue.

We believe the address assurance process should be trusted and secure. To this end, we have designed an easy to deploy automated real time address assurance tool that relies on our expertise as a postal authority and leverages our existing experience in communications.

Why adopt digital ID Verification and Address Assurance?

It is one of the first steps that many businesses take in terms of digitisation and helps to start them off on the digital transformation roadmap. It provides an enhanced user experience, giving users increased accessibility to the information they need, accurate due diligence and provides easy management of residential address assurance. It can also be the catalyst for reducing financial losses presented by address and identity fraud.

What does success look like?

The right solution should be easy to use and provide strong multi-factor evidence of principal residential address and deliver enhanced levels of assurance via digital channels.

Vaiie Address Assurance is a fully integrated, simple global address assurance platform designed to reduce the risks presented by identity theft and address fraud.  For more information, click here.

Article first appeared in Connect Magazine Issue 99

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