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With new backing, H.K. regtech targets biggest banks

Know Your Customer will use strategic investment from CRIF to target larger financial institutions in Southeast Asia.



Know Your Customer, a Hong Kong-based fintech specializing in digitizing KYC and anti-money laundering processes to speed up customer onboarding, is looking to use a new partnership to sign up big banks.

Claus Christensen, CEO and co-founder, says Know Your Customer sold a minority stake to CRIF, a credit and corporate information provider based in Bologna, Italy.

“This partnership is an accelerant,” he told DigFin. “It will get us in the door of larger financial institutions.”

Know Your Customer is using the proceeds of the sale to beef up its sales and customer services teams, starting in Southeast Asia, as well as investing in its technology to adapt its solutions for markets such as Indonesia, which need customizing.

Making corporate data go real-time

CRIF is known as Italy’s largest credit bureau. It has, however, acquired over the years corporate information businesses in Asia and Europe, such as the Dun & Bradstreet operations in the Philippines and Vietnam, and BizInsights in Singapore.

For CRIF, taking a stake in Know Your Customer gives it a real-time digital onboarding capability along with its credit and corporate information services.

For the regtech, the deal opens the door to CRIF’s 10,500 customers in the finance industry, some of whom will need a KYC/AML solution.

“This partnership is about digital transformation for a customer’s onboarding process,” Christensen said.

Typically, a bank, fintech, asset manager, insurer, law firm, or other institution conducting a background check on a company or individual must dump a lot of paperwork on prospective clients; the bank just processes it for regulatory purposes. Christensen says a digital solution can take away a lot of this work. “It’s more like how a virtual bank onboards a consumer,” he said.

COVID-19 has increased demand among financial institutions for remote onboarding. But it also made the deal between CRIF and Know Your Customer a virtual one.

“The amazing thing about this investment and partnership was that it was all done online,” Christensen said. “None of us have met in person. It was very smooth.” He’s now making his way to Italy for an initial face-to-face.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Paola Galassi, executive director of CRIF’s B2B services, will join Know Your Customer’s board.

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