In the past, Know Your Customer (KYC) checks were only compulsory for financial institutions. These days, a growing number of companies need to verify their customers’ identities with KYC software. Today, we’ll look at your best options.
The 8 Best KYC Software
Disclaimer: Everything written about the companies mentioned in this article was gleaned from online research including user reviews. We did not have time to manually test all the tools. However, we ensured the information was correct as of Fall 2021. Feel free to contact us to request an update/correction.
When it comes to digital footprint analysis, SEON is simply one of the KYC software tools that give you the most data points thanks to:
- Reverse phone lookup: Find all the red flags by checking whether the phone number exists, if it’s in the right country, and more.
- Reverse email analysis: Flag email addresses that don’t exist and spot suspicious free domains.
- Device fingerprinting: Learn which configuration of software and hardware the user relies on to connect to your site.
- Reverse digital profiling lookup: Check 35+ platforms and online networks for user data.
All that data is fed through a powerful risk scoring engine, which outputs a fraud score with clear explanations. This allows you to immediately filter out junk users before the KYC stage, ask for additional information with medium-risk customers, and get more information for a manual review.
- Check social signals: SEON aggregates data from 35+ social networks for user information, far more than any other KYC software tool.
- Fast and frictionless: Get results in split seconds via API.
- Transparent pricing: True SaaS model with a free 30-day trial and cancel anytime contracts.
- No document check or biometric authentication: SEON is best used as a pre-KYC filter or as a tool for extra info during a manual review.
- No AML or PEP checks: KYC and AML often go hand in hand. While you can use SEON to monitor transactions, you can’t check sanction lists with it.
- Starts at $99 per month.
What do companies such as Revolut, Remitly, and Bitstamp have in common? That’s right, they all verify identities with Onfido. The company leverages its AI models to verify 2,500 kinds of ID documents in 195 countries.
With Onfido, you’ll get liveness verification, biometrics analysis, and, of course, an AI system that will automatically accept or reject applications – with the added bonus of manual review for cases that fall within a grey area.
Last but not least, Onfido is suitable for both KYC and AML checks thanks to its PEP screening and transaction monitoring features.
- 2,500 document types: Ondifo can verify ID documents from most countries around the world.
- KYC, AML, and anti-fraud: you can perform all your compliance checks in one go thanks to Onfido’s KYC and AML verifications.
- False positives: As with most automated, AI-driven KYC checks, you’ll get the odd error – which can be frustrating for legitimate customers.
- More friction: While the liveness verification is effective, the risk of false positives and poor quality can add friction to the user experience.
Available after a sales demo.
Trulioo (pronounced truly-you) offers ID document verification by scanning its huge list of 5 billion identities in 195 countries. The company provides access to 4,200 types of documents, from driving licenses to residency permits. It’s ideal to meet KYC requirements, but also to check for AML watchlists.
All of their products, which also include business verification, are available via API integration. You can try the solution for free, then move up to the Growth plan (for KYC and AML checks only). The Enterprise plan includes business verification too.
- Huge database: Probably one of the largest databases of IDs for KYC.
- Simple pricing: KYC software pricing tends to be opaque, which is why it’s nice to know exactly how Trulioo segments its products.
- No data enrichment or risk scoring: Trulioo won’t be great for manual reviews or to manage risk in other areas apart from KYC.
- No pricing is available online but you have three options: a free trial, the Growth plan, or Enterprise that includes business verification.
Refinitiv World-Check Risk Intelligence is an award-winning data analytics company specializing in keeping a large financial data catalog, which it can leverage for KYC and AML.
When you integrate their solution, you’ll get to choose the KYC model you need, including access to suggestions from 100s of analysts worldwide who rely on 600+ sanction and law enforcement watchlists.
This makes Refinitiv a complete solution for both KYC and AML, with a specific focus on investment banking and asset management.
- AML and KYC tools: Companies in finance and banking need their customers to pass both KYC and AML checks. You can do both with Refinitiv.
- Human-vetted data: One of Refinitiv’s strong suits is its data, aggregated from data analysts who pore over the latest watchlists for AML.
- Pricing: A focus on top-tier financial institutions means you’re likely to get a higher quote.
- Must contact the sales team for a quote.
KYC-Chain lets you verify identities, run Know Your Customer and AML checks and, perhaps more innovatively, leverage blockchain KYC. The latter is offered via its sister company, SelfKey, which allows users to store their KYC details on-chain.
The company prides itself on its bank-grade compliance toolkit, which can scan more than 10,000 data sources in 240 counties with a response time of 30 seconds.
At the time of writing, KYC-Chain claims to have helped more than half a million customers create accounts in various industries, such as telecoms, trading, and fund management.
- Blockchain KYC: If you’re interested in learning more about how a shared ledger can work for ID verification, KYC-Chain is a good place to start.
- Gaining traction in the crypto world: Crypto exchanges need to go through KYC and AML checks too. It looks like KYC-Chain has specific features for that market.
- Developing tech: A new technology requires mass adoption to be truly valuable, and blockchain KYC is still in its infancy.
- No pricing information is available online.
Token of Trust
What do you do if you’re the victim of an online scam? Complain to the police? Boost your online security? For Darrin Edelman, the answer was to build a better KYC tool.
This was exactly how Token of Trust was born in 2019. The Minnesota-based company now offers electronic ID verification as well as document scanning and age verification. The latter is particularly useful for companies in the adult or gambling industry.
Token of Trust Pros:
- A complete suite of KYC tools: You’ve got identity verification, biometric authentication, and even age verification.
- Global KYC and AML coverage: Judging from online reviews, Token of Trust delivers excellent results in numerous markets around the world.
Token of Trust Cons:
- Expensive: Token of Trust customers report that the company’s pricing is at the higher end of the spectrum.
Token of Trust Pricing:
ComplyAdvantage is another solution whose goal is to make compliance less painful. It offers customer screening and monitoring for KYC, but also transaction screening and media checks, making an ideal solution for all your AML needs.
All the integration is done via APIs, and one of its key advantages is that you can try a free version if you’re a startup or scale-up fintech.
For the sake of transparency, we should point out that Charles Delingpole, one of ComplyAdvantage’s founders, is a SEON investor.
- Easy integration: Connect your system to ComplyAdvantage via well-documented APIs.
- Free plan: It’s rare to find KYC solutions with a non-paying (albeit limited) plan.
- Ideal for KYC and AML: PEP screening, adverse media checks… You’ve got all the tools needed to be compliant with both Know Your Customer and Anti Money Laundering regulations.
- No data enrichment: You can verify identities but won’t be able to complete user profiles based on alternative data.
- Pricing is available upon request.
- The ComplyLaunch program gives startups and scale-up fintechs access to some of ComplyAdvantage’s tools for free.
If you need video ID verification and facial biometrics, Ondato should be on your radar. The Lithuanian company hopes that its KYC software is so frictionless that it will be close to enjoyable for your customers.
It certainly seems to have its fans, as companies such as General Financing, Swedbank, and NFT Venture rely on its technology for both KYC and AML.
- Full suite of KYC tools: It’s not just video verification with Ondato – you also get e-signatures and biometrics, amongst others.
- White label option: You can hide the Ondato branding to reassure customers.
- No data enrichment: It’s great for ID verification, but you can’t rely on Ondato for risk management.
- Opaque pricing: While there is a free trial option, the pricing is only available after you contact the sales team.
- Must contact the sales team.
KYC Definition and Function
KYC, or Know Your Customer, is a set of practices a business must follow to verify someone’s identity. A company is under a legal obligation to ensure it is dealing with legitimate, identifiable people. This is to reduce the risks of money laundering, fraud, and terrorist activity.
At its bare minimum, a KYC check requires:
- first and last name
- date of birth
- proof of address
The key point to know is that there is no set way to perform a KYC check as guidelines vary from one country to another.
Some companies verify identities manually while others use specific software – but either way, the KYC process must be presented to local regulators who will then determine whether it meets legal requirements or not.
Examples of Technologies Used for KYC
Since there are no set rules for performing a KYC check, a number of technologies may be employed and often combined as part of a multi-layered approach.
Real-time video and liveness verification
Real-time ID checks are usually provided by a third-party company. You integrate the software into your system, and it allows customers to upload official documents to the site. Supported ID documents may include passports, driving licenses, or residency permits.
Pros and cons: Video streaming is quickly becoming the global standard for ID verification in the financial services industry. While the technology is quickly improving, it is still considered high friction. That’s to say, it’s a clear obstacle in your customer’s journey.
This can be particularly damaging if you offer fast, mobile services where user experience is a competitive advantage, for instance as a neobank or challenger bank.
Fraudsters are also increasingly good at bypassing video and ID verification with doctored documents and videos (deepfakes).
Another growing area of identity verification for KYC is the use of biometric technology. It includes physical measurements that are unique to each individual, such as a face ID, voice recognition, or fingerprint identification.
In KYC, biometrics are often used at the authentication stage, to ensure the person performing the action is the right one. There is also an overlap with liveness identification and multi-factor authentication (MFA).
Pros and cons: Biometrics is a great tool for quick authentication, but it’s not enough to confirm the quality of ID documents. There are also reported high levels of false positives where the scanning isn’t precise enough to function properly.
While blockchain technology is commonly associated with cryptocurrencies, there has been a recent push to leverage it to store and share KYC identifiers anonymously.
The idea is to capture user ID data, verify it once, and turn it into immutable data points that are accessible without revealing personal information – with enough confidence in their accuracy to pass a KYC check.
Pros and cons: Blockchain KYC tools have a ton of potential. They can scale and be much more affordable than traditional KYC software. However, these kinds of solutions will only show their true worth once adoption becomes more mainstream.
Digital footprint analysis
Sometimes a key part of a KYC check is simply proving that the person exists. With digital footprint analysis, the idea is to rely on a user’s behavior, social media presence, and online history to confirm that they are indeed real.
You can also get a better idea of who you’re dealing with by checking the tools they use. An email address or phone number, for instance, can reveal a lot of information about someone. The same can be true of the devices they rely on to connect to your site.
You may not be able to confirm their IDs, but you can certainly flag suspicious behavior to learn if the person in question is a criminal or not.
Pros and cons: Digital footprint analysis is fast and frictionless, as it happens behind the scenes. It’s a fantastic way to filter out junk users and obvious fraudsters. However, as a standalone technique, it’s not enough to confirm someone’s identity.
AI and machine learning
While the terms artificial intelligence and machine learning may seem daunting, there’s another word you can use to describe the technology: automation.
In short, it’s about using automated systems to accelerate verification to work with a higher volume of applications, whether it’s for image quality checks, document digitization, or suggesting risk rules. The key point is that you can’t outsource KYC to machines. The algorithms are simply a way to help with existing processes.
Pros and cons: AI and machine learning are fantastic tools to automate existing processes, but you must be able to trust the quality of your tech. It’s also worth considering whether you want to work with a blackbox (opaque) or whitebox (transparent) system.
The former is designed to work out of the box. The latter can give you human-readable reasons to understand how it works so you can have more control.
Choosing the Best KYC Software
With an increasing number of options for KYC verification, it’s useful to understand how KYC software works, and which solutions make sense for your business.
Hopefully, this article will be a good primer on the topic, whether you need to perform KYC checks via data enrichment or ID document verification.
FAQ About KYC Software
Why use KYC software?
KYC software is one of the most convenient solutions for automating Know Your Customer checks. These are legal requirements in a growing number of industries, including finance, gambling, and crypto exchanges. KYC software can help you avoid compliance fines and accelerate customer verification to onboard more new customers without spending on additional resources.
What does KYC stand for?
KYC stands for Know Your Customer. It is a set of guidelines that come from local regulators to ensure businesses know who they are dealing with and fulfill any legal criteria on who the product is accessible to.
What is required for KYC?
The minimum requirements include knowing the customer’s full name, address, and date of birth. It usually involves checking an ID document such as a driver’s license, passport, or residency certificate.