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How to choose a KYC provider. Part 1

Alex Malyshev


My name is Nadia and I’ve been in FinTech for over 2 years now. I have gleaned some very crucial knowledge from the FinTech gurus like Chris Skinner, Leda Glyptis, and Liz Lumley.

I regularly read payment media like MEDICI (formerly Let’s Talk Payments), The Paypers, Finextra, and others, as well as industry reports from multiple research companies. But it turned out not sufficient for me to be able to answer a simple question.

I was approached by one of our clients, who posed this query: “We would like to integrate a KYC solution provider. Which one would you recommend?” I had previously heard the term KYC, and knew more or less what it meant (though not entirely).

And I certainly knew the difference between authentication and verification. But I couldn’t have predicted how answering such a simple-sounding question from my client would turn out to be more of a task than I imagined.

My research took about 2 weeks and ultimately turned me from layman into a… well, a much more advanced layman 🙂 And now let me walk you through my journey of discovery!

Stage 1: Enlightenment

Google was pretty much merciful to me, giving a general understanding of the KYC concept, procedures, and landscape. That was the easiest part of the research. I asked Quora, FinTech Insider, to give me a list of KYC providers.

I also sought to ascertain which vendors are used by the giants like Santander, Barclays, PayPal, and Starbucks. On the other end of the spectrum, I was curious which services use N26, Monzo, and Revolut. I also googled “FAQs in KYC.”

I couldn’t but notice that one company always popped up regardless of how I played with keywords. And applause goes to Trulioo. Well done, guys!

Also, my attention was massively grabbed by vendors who offered industry insights, white papers, and reports – which I swallowed quickly (and, as a grateful person, felt a strong need to contact them and learn more).

This exercise took me about 4 hours. I aggregated all the results from multiple sources and came up with my list of 10 best vendors. When I felt I’d gained enough information here, I embarked on the second stage.

Stage 2: Hard talk

It was time to “touch” the goods, so to speak. So I emailed and arranged the calls. I must confess that this was one of those cases where, while you thought you knew pretty much all there was to know, you quickly learned you knew next to nothing.

The first call was an epic fail. I couldn’t answer the simple questions asked of me, like, “What is the expected volume of onboardings per day?” and, “How big is the compliance department?” and, “What is the current proportion of automation to manual review?” or, even the most basic, “Why has your client decided to change KYC provider?”

In fact, I should have picked all this information up from the client prior to making my first call… so as to not look so silly.

That first call was fairly unproductive, to put it very kindly. But I learned from my mistake and was better prepared next time around.

Stage 3: Investigation

With each subsequent call my proficiency was growing, and in total, I made 10 calls. What I noticed was that the manner and philosophy of interaction differed from company to company.

There were really well-prepared calls through Zoom video conferencing, where I could see some crucial things which gave me a better understanding of the product. Those sales managers were normally plying me with additional reports, white papers, and know-how posts in subsequent emails.

Such a positive and helpful attitude went quite a long way in shifting my position from ‘unbiased’ or ‘neutral’ to ‘favorable’ or ‘positive’. And, of course, all sales teams should try their best to stick to this approach, whether it’s early morning or late evening or even a national holiday – you should always be dressed up fit to kill! 🙂

On the other hand, when speaking to some other vendors via mobile, for instance, where I could hear only every second word, I didn’t feel any sense that these calls were in any way helpful or productive, or that I was a valued client.

Such were the limits of our interactions.

But, then again, everyone is human, and we all have our own limiting factors – lack of time, lack of sleep, an occasional bad mood.

So, I get it. And I have almost no doubts that these sales managers make “hitting-the-mark” calls as well. In my case, however, I simply wasn’t lucky enough to be the recipient of such. It’s crucial to remember that very often we have one chance only to present ourselves and make an impression.

So we can’t screw up. Ultimately, I shortlisted the following names: Mitek, Comply Advantage, Trulioo, Fenergo, Opus.

My Lessons

Prior to making the first call, make sure you have the following list prepared:

  • Requirements!
  • Requirements!
  • Requirements!

Do not make any calls to a prospective supplier without understanding your requirements. This is wasting of time for both sides.

Another thing was, I still had to determine the particular criteria by which to make my choice. How would I measure up and compare the different prospects? I knew for sure that the potential vendor should help resolve the following:

  • Improve the customer onboarding experience.
  • Reduce onboarding and transactional fraud.
  • Reduce manual review time 
  • Decrease cost


Not to mention, how to solve the risk/conversion dilemma? When I asked our client what he was after, he said, “Find me a solution that finds a perfect balance between customer satisfaction, risk management, and regulatory compliance.”

Not the easiest task ever, right?

So I was stuck at that point, and faced an extremely hard-choice dilemma… If you would like to know how I solved this conundrum, follow the updates! The second part of the adventure story “How to choose KYC provider”  is coming soon! To be continued…

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How to choose a KYC provider. Part 2