eKYC in Switzerland – An Overview

eKYC in Switzerland – An Overview

by July 8, 2020

With finance and banking rapidly moving online, industry participants are increasingly adopting innovative solutions such as eKYC to provide customers with a seamless, digital-first onboarding experience.

What is eKYC?

eKYC (electronic know your customer) refers to the digitalization of the know your customer (KYC) process, which allows financial professionals to identify and verify a customer’s identity entirely remotely and digitally.

eKYC speeds up to verification process from a couple of days to just a few seconds, and ensures no more lengthy paperwork, no more queuing up at bank branches, and no more wasting time and effort in multiple follow-ups.

eKYC is particularly relevant today as customers demand improved, fully digital experiences. With the rise of digital banking and fintech, eKYC as part of an overall digital onboarding experience has become crucial for financial companies and startups alike.

According to a survey conducted by digital identity service provider Signicat, 72% of retail banking customers based in Europe want an all-digital onboarding system, and customers who onboard digitally are found to be more likely to remain loyal and tend to apply for more products and services.

Embracing digital onboarding

Around the world, regulators are passing new laws to establish legal frameworks more adapted to the rapidly changing banking sector.

In Switzerland, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) started allowing domestic financial institutions to use online identity verification in 2016, permitting banks to take on new customers through purely digital means. Previously, identification of customers could only be performed through face to face interviews at branch offices or by mail via officially-endorsed paper documents. Updated regulations took effect in January 2020 and include more stringent requirements.

Banks were quick to embrace the trend, with many partnering with fintech providers to accelerate adoption. Credit Suisse, for example, has been leveraging Appway’s onboarding platform since July 2017 to offer Swiss residents with the option to initiate a relationship with the bank through a completely digital onboarding process.

Appway’s client onboarding solution for retail banking allowing financial institutions to onboard customers in only 15 minutes with intuitive and frictionless data collection, and automated compliance checks.

Other financial institutions that have used Appway’s digital onboarding capabilities include Industrial Alliance Securities (iA Securities) from Canada, Investec from South Africa, as well as domestic banks Banque Cantonale de Valais (BCVS) and BSI.

Swiss eKYC providers

Appway is undoubtedly one of the most prominent Swiss players in the digital onboarding field, having earned many accolades for its solutions, but it’s certainly not the only one.

In eKYC, one of the key elements part of the digital onboarding process, KYC Spider, a company based in Zug, is another notable Swiss provider. Founded in 2003, KYC Spider offers all the necessary compliance services relevant not only for finance intermediaries and banks, but also for fintechs and industrial corporations, serving clients such as Yapeal, an upcoming Swiss neobank, Bitcoin Suisse, a regulated financial intermediary specializing in crypto-financial services, and Lykke, a blockchain-based exchange platform.

KYC Spider provides an online solution called KYC Toolbox, which allows organizations to automate their KYC compliance process. KYC Toolbox has a modular design with access to all the features needed for standard KYC processes, and allows users to easily and securely check and identify their business partners and customer base online, as well as create detailed Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) reports on potential customers.

Procivis is another noteworthy Swiss startup in the space. Founded in 2016, Procivis specializes in digital identity solutions and e-government applications and services.

Procivis’ eID+ is a smartphone-based digital identity platform which enables individuals to access digital services provided by the government and the private sector. eID+ is composed of three core features: e-Authentication, e-Signature, and e-Document, and serves as a foundation for a host of digital services which in the future will include e-Company, e-License, e-Health and e-KYC.

eID+ is currently being used in Schaffhausen where citizens can access over 100 e-government services through the Canton’s eGov portal.

Other Swiss eKYC services providers include Specitec, a software provider for the private banking and industry sectors that offers an array of solutions for digital client onboarding, eKYC, and more, and id4, a regtech developing a full-fledged client lifecycle management digital platform with best-in-class client experience for online ID check and e-signature.