23 May 2023
by Barley Laing

The evolving role of technology in helping to know your citizens (KYC) and prevent fraud (Guest blog by Melissa)

Guest blog by Barley Laing, UK Managing Director at Melissa #LPSInnovation

With a plethora of local government services now online, and fraudulent activity on the increase, it’s even more important to know your citizens (KYC) to make certain they are who they say they are and are legitimately entitled to the services offered.

Undertaking KYC checks is not only best practice in helping to significantly reduce the opportunity for fraud, but it aids the personalisation of communications, improves the delivery of services and the overall user experience. Undertaking KYC also delivers operational efficiencies. All these factors are important reasons to implement KYC practices, particularly during a period of high inflation and reduced budgets.

To start delivering KYC it’s important to have data cleansing processes in place to clean and standardise user data held in batch, as well as the moment new data is collected.

Avoid input errors with autocomplete

For those planning on implementing KYC procedures technology is playing a pivotal role in cleaning data, alongside ID verification. One of the most important tools is an address autocomplete or lookup service. It gathers accurate address data in real-time at the onboarding stage by providing a properly formatted, correct address when the user starts to input theirs. It also improves the user experience by reducing the number of keystrokes required, by up to 81 per cent, when typing an address.

The first point of contact verification can also be extended to phone and email, so these can be verified in real-time.

Deduplication / matching

Data deduplication is equally important when it comes to data quality, with the average database containing 8-10 per cent duplicate records. This is often caused when two departments merge their data and mistakes occur in contact data collection at different touchpoints.

Duplicate printed communications, in particular, add cost at what is a challenging time for local authority finances. It’s something which will also damage the senders’ reputation, with recipients viewing it as a waste of public money.

The solution is to engage an advanced fuzzy matching tool to deduplicate data, something that will also reduce the potential for fraud because it ensures there’s a unified record for each citizen.

Data suppression / cleaning

A vital part of the KYC process is data suppression, or cleaning, using the appropriate technology that highlights people who have moved or are no longer at the address on file. As well as removing bad addresses, these services can include deceased flagging to prevent the sending of mail and other communications to those who have passed away, which can potentially upset their friends and relatives. It’s ethical to use these suppression strategies that help those in local government to save money, protect their reputations, and avoid fraud.

SaaS and data quality

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a technology that’s offering huge value to councils, because it can be accessed instantly through the internet, removing the need for expensive and complex computer infrastructure and coding when it comes to integration. It’s simply a case of plug in and benefit immediately.

When it comes to delivering data quality, and KYC, it’s possible to source a scalable data cleansing SaaS platform that requires no code, integration or training. This technology immediately cleanses and corrects names, addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers worldwide. The matching of records in real-time, ensures there is no duplication, and data profiling is delivered to help identify issues for further action. A single, intuitive interface provides tools for data standardisation, validation and enrichment, resulting in high-quality contact information across multiple databases.

SaaS and ID verification

With the growth in online fraudulent activity SaaS electronic identity verification (eIDV) tools are growing increasingly popular. These easy to deploy, scalable platforms support cross-checks against an individual's contact data in real-time as they complete an online application process, ensuring the user experience isn’t negatively impacted.

It does this by matching the name, address, date of birth, email, or phone number against reputable global data streams such as government agency, credit agency and utility records, along with mortality screening checks, to effectively confirm the ID of an individual. At the same time the platform should highlight any errors in the data, such as a typo in the address, which can be easily corrected.

It's advisable that the platform sourced also offers access to worldwide sanctions, politically exposed person (PEP) data, and is able to offer adverse media checks to provide a full ID verification service. With this insight it’s possible to determine an applicant’s ‘right’ to access a service or support, and protect tight budgets against scammers, supporting best practice KYC.

In summary

While there’s no legal requirement for the local authorities to undertake KYC, delivering practices that support its delivery is essential. This requires using relevant technology to safeguard contact data quality and ID verification. Doing so will not only help them to prevent fraud but provides insight that will ensure a better experience for their users, as well as improve efficiencies at an incredibly challenging time for their budgets.

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Barley Laing

Barley Laing

UK Managing Director, Melissa

Barley Laing joined Melissa in 2014 during an exciting expansion phase of the California headquartered company.

As Managing Director, with 24 years of technology and data industry experience, his role is focused on meeting the customer onboarding, data quality and ID/compliance needs for organisations in the UK and worldwide.

The team that Barley heads up provides sales, data consultancy and technical support for their wide range of software solutions, which help organisations to achieve efficient data verification and management; and meet ID, Know your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) requirements. 

Under his leadership Melissa’s UK office has experienced double digit growth over the last five years in a row, including 21% in 2021. Over this period he has significantly grown the UK client base, which includes: the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office; GCHQ; Financial Conduct Authority (FCA); BBC; BAE Systems; GSK and Mars.

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