Categories
Finance

ACH Payment

Payments have come a long way over several decades. All the way back in 1974, people had to carry dimes with them to make calls from payphones, and copies were made on a mimeograph. Over time, payments have changed and so has ACH payment. The ACH payment method has improved with the help of technologies and the network keeps on providing better services to consumers and businesses. There’s a lot of rich history behind ACH transfers and what makes them one of the most preferred payment methods. 

ACH is a financial tool that millions of users rely on and only a few of them understand the payment method. ACH payment network supports tens of billions of transactions within the US every year and many consumers know ACH payments by other names. Several businesses still don’t know how to boost consumer adoption of ACH payments and how to make sure all involved leverage the benefits of ACH transfer. 

While the ACH payment network is a widely known and used method, millions of customers don’t know how to set up ACH payments, or how to make an ACH payment.

What is ACH Payment? Brief History

ACH (Automated Clearing House) is a network for electronically moving money between bank accounts throughout the USA. ACH is the electronic evolution of the paper check and with time and technological improvement, it became a digital process. The digital process was adopted to improve efficiency and reduce the need for human input. 

As consumer needs and preferences changed in the early 1970s, banks in the US had to find new ways to keep up. The astounding growth in volume and geographic spread of checks required banks to devise new methods of handling and sharing information. The best solution that banks could think of was to turn to newly commercialized computer technology to build a payment network. Then this newly formed payment network was named “Clearing House”. If you don’t know about clearing house, it was a place where banks went at specific times to exchange checks and settle transactions.

Clearing Houses came into existence to help banks to settle checks between each other with relative ease. They facilitated the exchange of checks and calculated the net settlement amount per bank. The use of Clearing Houses makes the use of checks an open-loop payment system. Open Loop payment systems leverage intermediaries (banks, credit card providers, etc) to facilitate payments between two entities (individual accounts). 

Till the end of the 1950s, magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) became a standard practice. This technology utilizes a check number, account number, and bank routing number at the bottom of a check. Ach became a natural extension of MICR technology, it was created as a way to exchange MICR directly and not extracting MICR data from checks. 

ACH transactions in the beginning included:

  • High-volume
  • Low-risk
  • Repetitive

With time, ACH payments became a norm around the entire US financial industry, becoming so standard that it’s not connected to every US demand deposit account. The popularity of ACH transactions is understandable as ACH was designed to be a low-cost service, providing banks with a profitable alternative to processing and storing paper checks. 

The ACH Payments system was designed to allow corporations and consumers to reduce the use of paper-based checks and use digital methods to make payments. Users can use ACH transfers to process huge volumes of payments electronically, and with time it has become the biggest payment system in the country. In 2000, the ACH payment network processed over 4.8 billion payments, their value totaling over $12 trillion in the same period. To date, most of the payments transferred over the ACH include recurring credit card payments, interests and dividends, and other programs endorsed by the US Government. 

However, the ACH payment method isn’t perfect. Compared to swift and seamless payment methods offered by FinTechs of today. Regardless of the slow processing, it is still used to process billions of payments every month.

How does ACH work?

In both Push and Pull transactions, ACH works in a similar way:

1. A bank originates the transaction. This bank is denoted with the term “ODFI” Originating Depository Financial Institution. Banks then send ACH entries in batches, working on a fixed schedule. 

2. An ACH operator (The Federal Reserve or The Clearing House) puts the entries into deposits and payments. 

3. Once the entries sent by banks are sorted, the ACH operator sends legit entries to RFDI (Receiving Depository Financial Institution).

4. RDFI receives the transactions and debits or credits the amount according to the payment. 

5. Money is settled among banks at the end of the day. 

Since 2001, ACH payments have been available for customers online. In 2015, NACHA (the organization regulating the ACH network) created single-day ACH transactions. Before that, ACH transactions used to take 2 days – to 1 week depending on the banks. While single-day ACH transactions have improved the transactions by a lot, they don’t offer real-time payments. 

What is NACHA?

Commercial ACH payments rely on a set of rules and regulations set forth by the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA). While the Treasury payments are governed by Federal regulations that are built upon the NACHA regulations. 

NACHA’s membership is composed of representatives of the 40 regional ACH Associations in the USA. All the institutions in the ACH associations have to be depository institutions, commercial banks, savings banks, savings and loan associations, U.S. branches of foreign banks, Edge Act corporations, and credit unions. Today, over 25,000 depository institutions are participating in the ACH system.

Role of Federal Reserve and Private Sector AC Operators

The Federal Reserve Banks have been authorized by the regional ACH associations to operate automated clearinghouse facilities to settle for items they process. The Federal Reserve handles almost 75% of all the items in the ACH payment network in the United States. 

Some ACH businesses have designated private sector operators to process the item exchanges between their members.

Social Security Tests Direct Deposit

The Social Security Administration began testing DD (Direct Deposits) in 1975. While that was just an initial choice, no one expected that 99% of SSA payments will use Direct Deposits. 

While government payments gave ACH a big starting boost, the uses of ACH payments have grown over the years. Ever write a check and wonder why you never saw it getting canceled? All thanks to the ACH payment network, your check was converted electronically. The ACH payment method was considered innovative at the time, and it definitely transformed the financial industry. Due to ACH, no one gets back a canceled check, regardless of how the check was processed.

Uses of ACH Payment Network?

An ACH transaction informs member institutions (Financial institutions) to debit/credit accounts as they’re present on a physical check. Common information around check include:

  • Account number
  • Routing number

It’s also why businesses ask for a canceled check for setting up the payroll for a newly hired employee. Voided/canceled checks provide banks with necessary information. 

What makes the ACH payment process confusing is that they’re also called by several other names. ACH transfers are commonly called “eChecks”, “direct debit”, “automatic withdrawal”, “ACH credit & debit”, and others. While their names may be different, they’re all the same process. Here’s everything you can do with an ACH payment process:

  • Consumers can send funds between banks 
  • Employers can use ACH transfers to pay their employees
  • Customers pay service providers such as Internet providers, utility bills, and so on. 
  • Taxpayers pay taxes using IRS
  • Businesses pay suppliers

The ACH payment method isn’t the only method to move money around, and it may not be the most efficient process, but it’s still the biggest process. In 2020, over $62 trillion worth of payments were facilitated via the ACH payment network.

Types of ACH Payments

All ACH transactions fall into one of the two categories debit (pull) or credit (push). In the ACH payment debit process, an organization could be “pulling” money from a customer account for an automatic bill payment. In an ACH credit transaction, an organization could be “pushing” money to your employees “pushing” money to an employee’s account to pay wages. 

As one person’s credit is another person’s debit, the naming helps a business identity which process to set in an ACH transfer. An employer usually asks the ACH network to push money out of their accounts to send money to an employee’s accounts. If the employee has initiated the request, it would be an ACH debit transaction even though it will be the one who received the funds.

Who Runs the ACH Network?

NACHA, which stands for National Automated Clearing House Association, is the primary rule-making entity for ACH-using financial institutions in America. However, the complete ACH Network is an amalgamation of two systems run by different operators:

  • The Electronic Payment Network (EPN), is run by the “Clearing House” (an association made up of 24 banks)
  • FedACH, is run by the Federal Reserve banks to handle ACH transactions on behalf of the federal government. 

To understand this better, you can think of it as a partnership between two delivery companies that had their own zones and routes. Government financial institutions are serviced by FedACH, and private banks are supported by EPN. 

So NACHA, working with several government entities, makes up the rules, and then both the operators work together to route and deliver all ACH messages accordingly.

How Long Does an ACH Payment Take to Process?

As we mentioned above, ACH transfers are the most used method of sending and receiving money in the USA. But the time taken for finishing the payments vary, it can take anything from a few hours to a few business days. The time is based on:

  • When the day the transaction was initiated
  • Whether the transaction returns an error message before the target settlement date because of incorrect information or insufficient funds.
  • Whether the payment originator paid for the “same-day ACH Payment” service. 

Now that ACH messages are being delivered up to 5 times per business day, the default results are a bit faster. And the ACH payment network can easily accommodate same-day payment processing. The use of same-day ACH payments has been pretty low compared to general payments, which is the opposite of what everyone expected. In 2020, only $460 billion worth of payments were same-day transactions. That’s roughly 0.7% of all ACH transfers.

This slow adoption of same-day ACH payment can be credited to the additional cost, and also the fact that faster processing doesn’t mean faster payment settlement. Unlike a wire transfer, ACH transactions are recallable but the timelines regarding the payment returns are extremely complicated. So, if you didn’t get any notification, you can assume that the payment process is going just fine. Consumers have up to 60 days from when the statement containing the unauthorized transaction was transmitted to consumers. 

Depending on a given institution’s standard payment practices, and their risk level assessment, the payment process may be delayed until the maximum deadline. It doesn’t matter if the receiving institutions already have the details in hand.

ACH Payment vs Wire Transfer

ACH transfers and wire transfers both help in moving funds from one bank account to another one. They’re almost identical at first glance, but once you dive in deeper there are several differences. If you’re researching ACH payment vs wire transfer, then understanding the difference can help you out a lot.

During ACH transfers, information such as account numbers and routing numbers are sent in a batch to the automated clearinghouse, which then clears the payments and sends them to the bank. The ACH payment network acts as a middleman when it comes to payment clearing. 

Wire transfer on the other hand transfers funds from one account to another, but instead of the ACH, banks act as a middleman.

1. Speed Comparison: ACH Payment vs Wire Transfer

Depending on different details, an ACH transfer can take two to three business days to complete. They take more time because several payments are processed by the banks at the same time. 

Wire transfers send funds almost instantly. The funds aren’t left on hold and the receiving entity can access the funds right away. 

2. Cost: ACH Payment vs Wire Transfer

Some ACH payment providers have a fixed flat fee ranging from $0.20 to $1.50 per transaction. Businesses may also have to pay a separate fee ranging from $5 – $30 per month just for using the ACH service. There are some other charges such as ($2 – $5 per return), reversal/chargeback fees ($5 – $25 per incident), and batch fees of less than $1.00.

The good news is that ACH fees are still lower than other payment methods. Typically, ACH transactions often cost a business under one dollar per transaction based on transaction volume and potential risks. This is what makes ACH transactions an attractive choice for most users. Plus, the more ACH transactions you do, the less you have to pay per transaction. 

Wire transfer, on the other hand, can cost both the sender and the receiver. Many financial institutions charge $10 to $35 to send, and smaller institutions may also charge a fee to receive a wire transfer. For high-end payments, these costs can add up to $55 when combining all the fees, and sending money internationally can cost even more. 

3. Payment Security: ACH Payment vs Wire Transfer

Businesses and individuals need to send and receive money securely. ACH transfers are safer for the senders. Unlike most wire transfers, funds can be reversed if any fraud or payment error is detected. 

Wire transfers have a few disadvantages for the recipient. They’re a full step above cashier’s checks, which are pretty easy to fake. When you receive a wire transfer, you can access and use the money instantly. 

For senders, there’s a lot more risk involved. It’s important to know or confirm the person or account you’re sending money to, if you make a mistake and send money to the wrong party, they can withdraw those funds. Wire transfers are only insecure if you make a mistake in the sender’s information, or if someone has scammed you into sending money.

Benefits of ACH Transactions

The reason why the ACH payment method is so famous in the USA is that it offers 3 main benefits:

1. Cost-Effective

For an organization that uses ACH payments, ACH payment fees can range from a few cents to a few dollars, based on transaction size and volume. Compared to domestic wire transfers, ACH payments cost almost next to nothing. 

2. Easily Repeatable Payments

ACH payments are repeatable. Credit cards and debit cards expire or get stolen. On average the US checking account is 14 years old, so you need to link your account just once to the ACH payment network. This makes ACH a great solution that reduces the transaction risk with each wire transfer involving the same accounts. 

3. They’re Convenient

Older methods of sending and receiving money aren’t ideal and they offer a poor customer experience. Handling paper checks can be labor-intensive for everyone, wire fees aren’t ideal for the receiver, and credit cards require a lot of data inputs. And we can all agree that cash is a security risk that also requires trips to banks and standing in queues. ACH transfers are convenient and reduce the level of risk and hassle for users.

Limitations of ACH Payments

ACH payment network isn’t perfect, and here are the limitations of using ACH payments:

1. Speed

Default ACH transfers can take multiple business days to process, and even same-day ACH isn’t exactly same-day. This can leave parties with difficult decisions regarding withdrawals, shipping products, or honoring service contracts during the interviewing time. With slow processing, you can also have confusing balances, where consumers can forget about pending debit and end up with overdrafts and end up paying other charges.

2. Risk

As receiving entities won’t know for hours or days after a transaction has cleared, scammers and fraudsters can take advantage of this delay. This particular risk has eliminated ACH’s adoption for single-transaction uses and has also forced banks to place limits on how much money consumers can transfer.

How to Set Up ACH Payment?

Here’s how to set up ACH payment for your money transfer needs:

1. Set Up Your Account

Regardless of the industry, you’re in, ACH payments can increase revenue. ACH payments come with lower transaction fees compared to wire. Before you can set up an ACH payment account, you’ll need to choose a payment processor which is the next step.

2. Choose an ACH Payment Processor

You should contact your bank to figure out the ACH payment processing fees. It may be more efficient for you to connect with an ACH operator or payables automation solution. Comparing the details of features and the workflow from 3-4 different providers can help you choose the ideal ACH payment processor according to your needs. 

3. Finish the Paperwork

You’ll learn a lot about ACH payment processing when you fill out the necessary paperwork. ACH payments work by sending money from one account to another electronically. If you’re using wire transfer up until now, you can save a lot of money by switching to the ACH payment method. 

Visit your bank and complete the paperwork as directed by them.

4. Understand the Types of ACH Payments

To learn how to set up ACH payments, you’ll need to learn about the types of ACH payments. There are 4 basic types of ACH transactions:

  • PDD: this means there has been written permission from the payer to have funds debited from their accounts. Writing a check won’t qualify as permission when conducting a PDD transaction.
  • WEB: When the payer permits the internet to have the funds debited electronically, it’s known as a WEB ACH transfer. Specific authorization language is used in the permission process, and this language should be understood by the payer. 
  • TEL: With TEL ACH transactions, the payer provides information over the phone for money to be debited from their account. When a TEL ACH payment is processed, the phone call is recorded for verification. 
  • ARC and BOC: In ARC and BOC ACH transactions, a written check acts as permission however, the payer has to be notified that the paper check can be converted for conducting an ACH transaction.

5. Choose the Right Entry Class

Businesses have to familiarize themselves with several entry classes before processing ACH Payments. Most of the time it’s ideal to choose a service provider who will help you in processing the payment correctly. 

There are more than a dozen entry classes and you need to make sure to choose the one that suits your spending habits. 

6. Carefully Go Through ACH Payment Terms and Conditions

It’s essential that you go through the terms and conditions carefully. If you choose to sign up with an ACH payment provider, then you’ll get a detailed terms and conditions document that will help you understand almost everything. It will also detail the steps you can take to learn more and it will answer all the questions.

How to Make An ACH Payment?

Contrary to popular belief, it is pretty easy to learn how to make an ACH payment. Here are all the steps you need to follow for an ACH transfer. 

1. Gather Crucial Information for ACH Transfer

To make a transfer, you’ll need to provide your name, your routing/ABA number, account number, account type, and transaction amount. If your account has check-writing privileges, you should be able to get the account and routing number on the check. Besides bank accounts, credit unions can also be used for ACH payments.

2. Choose Between ACH Debit and ACH Credit

To execute the correct payment, you’ll need to differentiate between ACH debit and ACH credit.

ACH Credit is used to pay bills, with these transactions you provide your financial institutions with the authorization to pay a utility company or a loan provider. 

With ACH debit, you establish the transaction with the payee. In this transaction type, you’ll submit your payment details such as account and routing numbers to the payee. Compared to ACH credit, ACH debit poses a higher level of risk. 

Regardless of the type of payment you choose, you get the same level of convenience and cost-effectiveness. 

3. Finish the ACH Transfer

Before you go through the final process and transfer funds using ACH, you have to complete some paperwork. Now, most of that paperwork has gone digital and it provides a greater level of convenience. Some institutions may still ask you to fill out the physical paperwork, either way, these are the steps you need to follow:

  • Link account. This is an essential step and it can be completed fairly easily. To complete this step, you’ll need to fulfill the ACH instructions mentioned to the financial institutions who’ll be handling the transaction. 
  • Clarify if the transaction will be a credit or debit to the account where the transaction will initiate. 
  • Enter the payment amount. 
  • Specify the payment date. Most financial institutions will allow you to post-date a payment. 

Final Take: Understand ACH Payment

If you’re looking for a solution to move funds from one bank account to another one electronically, then the Automated Clearing House is an ideal option. This is also the case if you’re on a tight budget and want to keep costs as low as possible. And with the introduction of same-day transfers, the speed, and convenience of payments have been improved.

Categories
Bank

How Do Mortgage Lenders Check & Verify Bank Statements?

If you seek a mortgage for buying a new home or for refurbishing, it has to be approved by a mortgage lender for you to get your loan. One of the major factors involved in loan approval is the verification of the borrower’s financial information, but how do mortgage lenders verify bank statements for loan approval.

Banks and other financial institutions may demand a “proof of verification deposit” form to be filled in and sent to the borrower’s bank for process completion. A proof of deposit may also require the borrower to provide a minimum of 2 consecutive months’ bank statements. During the loan approval process, if you’ve ever wondered “why is verification of bank statements for mortgages required?” then the answer is to reduce the chances of people with fake documents acquiring funds for illegal activities.

With thousands of sophisticated technologies out there, it doesn’t take more than minutes to forge bank statements and other documents. Keeping this in mind, mortgage lenders are legally obligated to identify and authenticate bank statements. In recent years, there have been multiple instances where mortgage lenders have been scammed out of their money with fake bank statements. To save themselves such cases of financial fraud, mortgage leaders need to find ways to check and verify bank statements.

Understanding How to Verify Bank Statements?

To approve a mortgage application, a mortgage lender needs to verify a series of details. These criteria can include current income, assets, savings, and borrowers’ creditworthiness.

During the process of applying for a mortgage for a property purchase, the lender can and will ask the borrower for proof of deposit on the property. The lender then is asked to verify that the funds required for the home purchase have been transferred to a bank account and are now can be accessed by the borrower.

The proof of deposit is the only way for a mortgage lender to verify if any sort of transaction has taken place before applying for the mortgage. Proof of deposit serves another purpose for the lender. Using the proof of deposit, the mortgage company can verify if the borrower has enough funds in their account to make a downpayment. If they have insufficient funds, it’s generally considered a red flag during the loan application verification. 

Usually, a borrower pays a 20% down payment for the home. If the full cost of the home is $200,000 then the borrower will need to pay $40,00 upfront. The lender has to verify if the borrower has enough in their account to make the closing costs that are included in a new mortgage. 

The borrower has to provide the lender with the two most recent bank statements to confirm they have enough money for a downpayment. The mortgage company then reaches out to the borrower’s bank to verify if the information available on the bank statement is authentic or not. This is one of the most common ways how to verify bank statements during mortgage approval. The digital age has made it easier for fraudsters to fabricate fake bank statements and documents which can be hard to distinguish from original statements.

Types of Documents in Mortgage For Verification

A lender has to submit a POD (proof of deposit) form to a bank to receive the confirmation of the loan applicant’s financial information. There are other ways a lender can verify if the borrower’s financial information is authentic or not. Although the document required for verification can differ from bank to bank. Here are the most common types of documents in mortgage approval:

  • Account number
  • Account type
  • Open or closed status and opening date
  • Account holder names (these are the official owners of the account)
  • Balance information. (Including current account balance, account balance over two months/periods, or average bank account balance)
  • Account closing date and the balance at the closing time (if required).

A lender has the right to refuse a mortgage if the documents don’t satisfy the verification requirements.

Why Verification of Bank Statements Is Needed?

Why do mortgage lenders need bank statements? To reduce the risk of use of acquired funds by the borrower for illegal activities such as terrorist funding or money laundering. Lenders have the right to ask for a borrower’s bank statements and seek POD from the bank, some cautious lenders can ask for both of them. Lenders use POD and bank statements to ensure that the person is eligible for a mortgage.

Some lenders tend to ignore a once-in-a-lifetime overdraft on the borrower’s account during the account history verification. Although if a consumer has numerous overdrafts then giving a loan to consumers may be considered a risk for the bank.

How does DIRO Verifies Bank Account Statements?

As we mentioned above, it is getting easier and easier to fabricate fake bank account statements. With DIRO, you can verify bank statements with automated user consent and secure impersonation checks anywhere across the globe. DIRO can verify all account information including bank statements. Banks, financial institutions, and FinTechs can verify these statements using the DIRO bank verification service.

DIRO’s incredible technology can verify any kind of bank document using simple steps. All a user has to do is log in and verify bank statements online on a secure browser. It facilitates improved user experience, reduces the risk of financial crime, and instant bank verification. 

That’s not all you can use DIRO’s document verification technology for, users can access and verify any kind of bank information from any web source. One of the major ways to verify bank accounts is by processing micro-deposits, DIRO’s technology reduces the account verification time from 3-5 business days to mere seconds.

Mortgage lenders, banks, financial institutions, and FinTechs can make use of the DIRO’s award-winning document verification technology to streamline their process of bank account and bank statement verification.

Categories
Verification

Employment Verification: Step-by-Step Guide

There are several instances where companies will be asked or will initiate a request to verify an individual’s work history and other details associated with their current or past employment. This process is known as “employment verification.”

The hiring process is when most companies do verification of employment, and the process includes professional reference checks. Businesses generally receive proof of employment verification requests from third parties. Lenders who receive loan applications, credit card applications tend to do employee document verification to make sure that the person who’s applying isn’t lying about their employment status.

Mortgage lenders also verify your employment by contacting your employer directly and by reviewing the latest income documentation. The borrower has to sign a form authorizing an employer to share their income information to a lender asking about employment verification. At that point, the lender typically calls the employer to obtain the necessary information. There are some steps that you need to take, but there are steps borrowers need to take if they refuse to verify employment. 

Businesses can use multiple methods to verify employment, including getting a “proof of employment verification” letter, paystubs, contacting references, or executing contracts and agreements. In this article, we’ve mapped out the main reasons for employment verification and how companies fulfill the requests, and why employment verification is important.

What’s Verification of Employment?

To approve mortgages, banks need to verify employment. The same goes for businesses looking to hire new employees, or banks verifying employment before onboarding a customer.

The mortgage lender needs to check that you are employed where you say you’re employed. They also have to take your level of income into consideration. This confirms that the borrower can bear their down payments, EMIs, and closing costs. 

Employment Verification: When is it Required?

Now that online job hunting and professional networking sites like LinkedIn are becoming famous, a CV/Resume is more than enough to verify a person’s employment status. However, many potential verifiers can demand better and more formal certification of employment. This happens mostly when a financial transaction is involved. There are several employment verification documents needed to fulfill the request.

1. Lenders Approving a Loan

Lenders that are reviewing loan applications definitely need to verify an individual’s employment status. This helps them in making sure that the individual can make payments on time. Not just employment, employers can also verify the salary details of an employee if a lender requests so. However, companies should be careful to abide by the local laws. Some locations like the State of California and New York City prohibit employers from divulging salary information during the hiring process, but this doesn’t often affect loan requests. Employment verification methods can differ from business to business, but the end result is similar.

2. Property Owners Issuing a Lease

Similar to loan providers, the employment verification requirements of a property owner are to verify an individual’s employment status to make sure they can make payments under the lease. Financial history is also an important part of completing the process. This can be done by acquiring bank statements from the individual.

3. Employers Hiring New Employees

Before handing out an offer to a new employee, companies often check the employee’s employment history. This is done by contacting the references, which also require formal documentation. This step includes asking for employment verification documents. 

4. Work Visa Holders Verifying Employment

To secure a work visa in a country, applicants are required to have secured a job in the country. Similarly, this is necessary during application renewals, if the individual has quit the job or has been let go, the work visa will diminish. Visa holders must inform the office that issues the work permit if they’ve lost their jobs.

Process of Employment Verification

In general, lenders verbally verify the information borrowers share on the Uniform Residential Loan Application. However, they can also choose to get the data via fax, email, or a combination of any number of methods. Lenders use this information to calculate several metrics to determine how likely a borrower is to repay a loan. A change in employment status can have a huge impact on your borrower’s application. 

1. Additional Information

Whenever a lender will verify employment, a lender will frequently ask other questions as well. The basic question a lender may inquire about is the type of employment. Lenders are also interested in verifying the position, salary, and work history. Most lenders only verify the borrower’s current employment, some lenders may also want to confirm previous employment information. This practice is more common for borrowers who have been in their current organization in less than two years. 

2. Verification for Self-Employed Individuals

Those who are self-employed and take on the mortgage have a different type of employment verification. In this situation, lenders need an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 4506-T. This form is a request for “Transcript of Tax Return” which allows the lenders to receive a copy of the borrower’s tax return directly from the IRS. In a self-employed situation, the lender may also have to ask for attestation by a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to confirm income.

Common Employment Verification Methods

Companies should notify an existing or a past employee that they’ve received an employment verification request. This allows companies to make sure that the request is legit before providing sensitive details to an unknown party. This is also the first step to learn if you’re wondering how to do employment verification. 

1. PoE Letter

A PoE (Proof of Employment) letter is issued by an employer and it acts as a formal confirmation of a current or past employee’s status. PoE letters often include:

  • Employer’s business name and address 
  • The employee’s job title
  • Dates of the current/past employee’s employment
  • List of employee’s responsibilities
  • The employer’s contact information

2. Paystubs

Pay Stubs are often used for employment verification. It provides a record of an employee’s past income from the company. This information is needed when the individual’s applying for a loan, mortgage, or credit card. In some locales, providing a customer’s salary information is against the rules and regulations. 

3. References

Another method of verifying employment is by contacting the references provided by the individual. A reference can help in providing information about the employee’s roles and responsibilities throughout the organization. The reference (usually a manager) can verify if the individual ever used to work with the organization. 

4. Contracts & Agreements

These documents help in proving an employee’s relationship with a company, but most of the contracts and agreements only show that the employee accepted a job offer. One issue with this method is the lack of surety of the individual working with the organization. 

5. Third-Party Services

Businesses that need employment verification in bulk tend to use third-party services to reduce stress from internal resources. These third-party service providers complete the employment verification process on a company’s behalf.

What Information is Legal to Share?

Employment verification is a tricky process as the entity may require details that an employer is prohibited from submitting. As a matter of fact, employers can face huge penalties if they fail to abide by the rules. Health and Salary information is the most sensitive employee information that most businesses aren’t allowed to share. Here’s a deeper insight into what information is legal to share.

1. Health Data

Sharing information about an employee’s health isn’t legal in most areas. There is no way to know what a verifier wants to do with the information. Health and physical appearance-based discrimination hiring is a common practice.

Sharing information about an employee’s disability is a highly frowned upon practice. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, sharing information about an individual’s disability is considered illegal. 

Hiring employers can confirm whether the person they’re hiring will be able to fulfill the responsibilities of the position they’re being considered for. 

2. Salary and Earning History

Certain situations such as loan approval require entities to gain insights into the applicant’s earnings. Several locations such as the State of California and NYC prohibit companies from requesting previous salary information during the hiring process. This rule is set in place to protect an employee from having the salary for a new role being compared to the previous compensation. 

How to Respond to Refusal to Verify Employment?

Some employers completely deny a borrower’s request for employment verification, but it can be easy to fix this situation in some cases. You need to clearly explain to the human resource manager why you need to verify the employment of the borrower. Some companies will not provide any information without the verbal or written consent of the employee. There can also be state laws that a company has to follow before handing out an employee’s information.

As an employee, you should talk to your employer about this. You can also tell your potential mortgage lender about your organization’s rules and regulations. Some lenders may be willing to process an application without employment verification as another state’s law prevents them from verifying a certain type of information. 

There are also some cases where an employer will not verify employment for other reasons. If this clashes with your mortgage application process, then you should start searching for a different job.

Conclusion: Employment Verification

A lot of businesses suffer from employee scams and that’s why it’s essential to verify employee information. In high-risk industries such as the financial industry, employment verification is a need rather than a formality. DIRO online document verification can reduce the verification time by 90% while simultaneously providing court-admissible proof of verification.

Categories
Fraud ID Verification

Why AI-Based Online Document Verification is the Best Way to Verify Identity and Mitigate Fraud?

Showing any kind of proof of identity is vital to complete any kind of legal formality or verification process. No matter what industry a customer is trying to become a part of, be it banking, insurance, healthcare, technology, travel, education, or any other online service, the customer is asked and obligated to present an Identity proof to verify a customer is who they say they are. Verifying customer identities can reduce the risk of identity theft.

Verifying identities may sound great, but as a business, you’ll have to spend money, time, and HR to put secure document verification solutions in place. Extra tough verification process reduces the overall customer experience. While most customers don’t like the extra tough verification process, not having a verification process reduces the trust in the brand and can cause businesses to lose more customers during the onboarding process. 

To find the balance between these situations, AI-based digital document verification solutions are viable, effective, and hassle-proof. Here’s why digital identity verification solutions are important and how it helps financial institutions prevent risks?

What’s the Need for Verifying Customer Documents?

Before we go deeper into how digital identity verification works, it’s important to understand why businesses need to verify documents at all be it using technology or human methods. Online document verification serves two key purposes, it prevents risks like financial fraud and identity theft, secondly, online document verification helps in industry-wide legal compliance. 

According to studies, the total loss incurred due to identity fraud in 2020 was about $16.9 billion. The damages that result from theft of identities don’t just revolve around money, it also involves sexual, racial, and gender-related comments on social media which can cause a lot of issues. 

The covid-19 global pandemic has increased the overall online transactions and digital banking, it also improves the number of digital fraud and identity theft cases which will eventually cause more damage than benefit. To reduce this type of fraud, banks and financial institutions are spending a lot of money on AI-based identity verification technologies.

Difference Between Modern and Traditional Document Verification

Traditional methods of document verification were hectic, and inefficient and it makes a lot of challenges for customers. Before the digital revolution in the banking sector, customers used to visit the brick and mortar branches to get the documents verified for account opening and loan applications. Traditional document verification used to take weeks at the same time. Plus, the results used to be extremely inefficient. Fraudsters make counterfeit documents that are indistinguishable from real documents.

However, conventional ways of authenticating ID documents fail to deliver results that are 100% efficient. There is always a probability of having mistakes in their results. That is why conventional document verification isn’t the best idea while fighting fraud. 

To combat the problems in the manual document verification process, online document verification needs to be used by banks all over the globe. Online document verification technologies that rely on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms can be helpful in combating document fraud. Online document verification technologies improve the odds of verifying customer documents and minimizing the approval of fake documents. And, online document verification can boost the customer experience. 

Regulations and Compliances Necessary to Fight ID Fraud

Businesses and industries can’t work without document verification because it is required by law to follow all the compliances. Countries all over the globe have to follow legal compliances such as KYC (Know Your Customer) and Anti Money Laundering (AML) guidelines that are required by law to be followed by businesses. According to the rules set up by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), verification of documents can be useful to potential identity theft. Complying with KYC and AML guidelines is not just a legal requirement, it is also an effective and appropriate measure that will help businesses fight all kinds of identity frauds.

Types of Document Fraud

There are several types of document fraud that banks and financial institutions have to face. To perform document fraud, fraudsters use counterfeit documents and they also steal documents. Customers demand instant verification and with so many types of document fraud, it’s challenging to verify documents. Here are all types of document fraud:

  1. Modified Documents

Modified documents are original documents that have been altered, and these documents often come in two different types:

  • Forged Documents: Fraudsters change vital information on documents to conduct ID fraud. They often end up changing variable information, adding real pages from other documents, removing specific pages, applying fake stamps or watermarks. 
  • Blank Stolen Documents: All documents start out as blank pages, when fraudsters get access to these documents they can use them to trick banks. 
  1. Illegal Documents

Forged documents are original documents once, but illegal documents are fake altogether. Illegal documents are of different types:

  • Counterfeit Documents: As the name suggests, counterfeit documents are reproductions of originals. Usually, a fraudster will get their hand on an official blank document and they use the blank document to add in information.
  • Camouflage Documents: There are some things that you shouldn’t have on a document. A camouflage or fantasy document often contains information that shouldn’t be there. This is the easiest type of fraud to detect.

How Does Digital Certificate Authentication Work?

The online document verification process verifies the documents using tools and software all using Artificial intelligence. Just as a human officer examines an ID card/ Identity document confirms customers by matching their face against the document provided. AI-powered document verification tools also verify the identities using a different set of documents. 

So how does the online document verification software work? The process is quite simple and usually involves several simple steps:

  • The digital document verification software is usually integrated with your business’s website and other automation systems. 
  • When a customer logs onto your website for the first time, he or she will be asked to upload a government-issued identity proof in an image format. Most software often provides a live image capture feature for comparison.
  • Once the customer has uploaded the images, the software scans the documents using optical character recognition.
  • The extracted information from the image is then analyzed and verified against the government and private databases. Simultaneously, the document is also checked for forgery and signs of tampering. Usually, the verification of documents takes a few seconds. 
  • If the documents uploaded by the customer are genuine and not tampered with, then the user can sign up with your business. Documents that aren’t authentic are rejected and the customer can’t use the services. 

All the AI-powered document verification services verify documents issued by the government only. These documents include passports, driving licenses, photo ID cards, voter’s identification documents.

What are the Fraud Detection Techniques Used by Software?

Most of the major document verification solutions use three types of analytics to determine if a document is real or not. These analytics are data integrity, visual authenticity, and facial biometrics data. 

  1. Integrity of Data: As you may already know, documents issued by the government come with a set of features. Features such as integrated algorithms, data fields available in multiple locations. AI-powered document verification tools check all data features to make sure that they match.
  2. Document Authentication: The software also checks for any kind of anomalies or signs of tampering in the document. These signs of forged documents include pixel quality, holograms, and incorrect logos, barcodes, and micro prints. 
  3. Facial Biometrics: It isn’t enough to verify just the data available on the document and checking the authentication of the document, software also needs to make sure that the person who has uploaded the document is the actual owner.

All these technologies make the solutions more efficient and accurate in verifying the documents in comparison to manual verification. 

Benefits of Using an AI-Based Document Verification

During customer onboarding, consumers are asked to submit a series of ID documents such as government-issued ID cards, driving licenses, passports. It’s not easy to verify documents manually. That’s why online document verification allows clients to submit a selfie and upload online documents for verification. 

After submitting documents, online document verification software verifies documents online and verifies if the document is authentic or not. DIRO online document verification software fetches document data from the issuing source to verify if the document is legitimate or not. 

Online document verification offers a wide range of advantages including faster turn-around time. It can manage to verify several documents easily from all over the globe, each document with different fraud detection rules and elements. 

Moreover, when businesses use AI-powered document verifications solutions, errors reduce by a drastic number. AI-based solutions are known for detecting frauds and red-flag patterns that humans usually miss out on.

Final Take: Importance of AI-Based Document Verification Solutions

Digital transformation of businesses has been going on for a long time, the global pandemic has pushed the digital transformation into overdrive. To reduce the threats of identity theft and financial fraud, businesses often comply with regulations that end up with complex processes that often push customers away.

As we’ve mentioned above, verifying documents offline can be tough, ineffective and they aren’t sustainable. Moreover, they’re expensive and take up a lot of time. To solve the issues banks face with offline document verification, banks rely on online document verification software. 

AI algorithms and machine learning solutions can help banks, credit unions, financial institutions to identify suspicious money laundering activities. Thus online document verification can be crucial in mitigating fraud, and using AI-based online document verification it is possible to reduce the flow of fraud. 

It is imperative to verify documents without having to reduce customer satisfaction. To successfully do that, AI-Based digital document verification solutions are the best choice. To protect your business against identity fraud eliminates the need for maintaining huge teams. AI-Based digital document verification solutions are the future.

Categories
General

Embedded Finance is Changing Banking for Firms and Customers

Embedded finance is streamlining banking and digital payments for consumers who need secure digital banking services. At the same time, it is facilitating growth and innovation for new brands and launching new products and services with ease. Almost a decade ago, challenger banks and neobanks gave birth to the FinTech revolution. As technology evolved, the role of FinTechs became more prominent in the industry.

Traditional banks took notice of the potential of FinTechs and how they can help in providing a seamless customer experience during onboarding, digital banking services, and payments. After the Covid-19 Pandemic, the digital banking revolution was pushed forward. Today, there are apps for almost every financial service customers can think of including insurance, investments, mortgages, pensions, and digital assets. The next step in building seamless digital banking services is Embedded finance.

So how embedded finance can help non-finance brands to offer financial services to customers and how it can help in making banking services seamless for consumers.

What Is Embedded Finance?

The simplest way to explain embedded finance is in-app payments whether a customer is using a taxi app “Lyft” or buying takeaway through a food application. Embedded finance involves integrating a financial service into a non-financial application. For users, it provides quick and seamless payments and an incredible customer experience. 

There’s no limit to the use cases of embedded finance and the primary function of embedded finance is providing seamless customer payments. But the use case of embedded finance is starting to go beyond just payments and more and more non-financial industries are entering the financial ecosystem to provide better digital banking services to the customers. By properly implementing embedded finance, all banking tasks can be achieved virtually, such as investments, borrowing and lending, insurance, credit card applications and so much more. 

Embedded Finance, FinTechs, and Non-Finance Companies

With the constant developments in the banking sector, it is possible that the current landscape of the financial industry will be completely different in the next 10 years. Unlike the digital transformation of the banking industry, embedded finance has had a slow start/ Over the last couple of years, the use of open banking APIs for customer onboarding, KYC verification, payments, and fraud prevention has become standard.

Open Banking APIs are essential for embedded finance to survive and grow as open banking APIs allow software systems of different companies to seamlessly communicate with one another. Open banking has also gained momentum all over the world as it opens the door to open finance. 

As embedded finance services rely on APIs and BaaS (Banking-as-a-Service) to integrate financial services into non-financial services, any brand or company or FinTech can now offer a plethora of financial services without actually having to convert into a bank. All this transformation in the industry offers customers more choices and a seamless digital baking experience. 

Businesses operating outside of the financial industry can use open banking APIs and embedded finance to deliver financial services and reach out to the unbanked and underbanked population. Tesla’s Insurance package is the prime example of non-finance businesses venturing into the financial industry. Embedded finance is a great opportunity for brands as they can build new products and services and reach out to a whole new segment of customers to increase their profits.

Benefits of Embedded Finance: Customers and Businesses

The benefits of embedded finance go beyond just opening up new revenue streams for businesses. Even a few years ago, the development and launch of a new financial product required significant investment in terms of both money and manpower. Businesses had to overcome several challenges just to put out a new service in the market. That has changed because of embedded finance, as FinTechs now handle the development, integration, and compliance factors, and brands can rent or buy the financial product and provide their customers with a new segment of financial services.

As for the customers, the benefit is in terms of convenience, security, and seamless payments from anywhere, anytime just by using smartphone apps. The reason why customers across the globe have come to love embedded finance is that they can conduct every activity with a familiar UI. This leads to elevated levels of positive customer experience, as customers don’t have to be redirected to some complex and difficult-to-use webpage to make payments. 

This doesn’t mean that traditional banks will cease to exist altogether, while open banking APIs and embedded finance are being utilized on a global scale, millions of customers still only trust banks to handle their money.

How Embedded Finance and FinTechs Enhance Banking Industry?

1. FinTech is a Growing Ecosystem

There are tons of technological ecosystems that are turning heads, such as InsureTech, PropertyTech, InvestTech, but FinTech is a culmination of all these ecosystems. Whatever the new technology, embedded finance will still provide the foundation for a new ecosystem. Account aggregation and online customer/ID verification can’t be possible without FinTech as a foundation.

2. Embedded Finance Eliminates Complexity

All the embedded financial products are ultimately all about removing complexity from financial activities. Companies use embedded financial components to remove complexity from the process and increase user experience. 

Instead of visiting another webpage, a consumer gets access to payments in the current ecosystem. This increases customer experience, strengthens security, and reduces the complexity of the process.

3. Embedded Finance Will Offer Better Financial Control

In this newly growing financial landscape, customers need better control over their finances. With customers becoming more comfortable with technology, their outlook on their personal finances is also changing. It’s critical that embedded finance applications leverage as much customer data as possible. This provides customers with more control over their financial data.

4. Use Existing Resources

Most businesses shy away from embedded finance because of the expenses. But, the truth is that organizations don’t need to worry about the expenses and resources needed to acquire new customers and build high-end infrastructure. By including a financial angle to create new financially embedded products, you can easily modify the current system.

5. Improved Customer Experience

Embedded finance helps companies create a seamless journey for their customers. offering more services to the customers will eliminate their need to deal with third-party vendors for completing their transactions. This leads to higher profits, and the direct connection between customers and the company will improve the customer experience.

Future of the Banking Industry

Without a doubt, the constant technological development in the financial industry may act as a threat to traditional banks as tech-savvy customers will choose digital services over physical ones. The truth is that neither banks nor FinTechs can survive without the other one. FinTechs don’t have the expertise or resources like bank account verification software or online KYC verification software to keep up with KYC and AML compliance changes and handle millions of customers. Traditional banks on the other hand don’t have the expertise in developing strong and robust digital platforms for their customers.

In this situation, the ideal step to enhance the financial industry for both businesses and customers is to build strong Bank-FinTech partnerships that can take advantage of the best features. 

Categories
Bank

Open Banking Recurring Payments and Innovation

Compare the current financial service market to the one a decade ago and you’ll see enormous changes. It’s all because of technology. When the concept of open banking was introduced in 2019, it opened the floodgates for innovation in the industry. The financial data of consumers were now open to be accessed by any authorized financial service provider and consumers themselves had more control over their data. As banks in the UK were required to let consumers share their transaction data with authorized third-party providers, the era of innovation began. For the first time, consumers were able to explore a range of alternative financial services and payment options from technologically forward FinTechs and financial institutions. 

Open banking has become fairly mainstream in the financial services industry today as more and more customers are becoming technologically demanding. It’s fair for customers to demand instant, intuitive, and convenient digital solutions that can meet their demands, both for personal and professional use. 

FinTech-based open banking innovations have changed the way customers and businesses send and receive payments. They’ve changed the way payments happen, be it one-time or recurring payments. 

The open banking recurring payment is the next step toward simplifying the online payments initiative. This provides an innovative and seamless method of the transaction on a regular basis.

History of Recurring Payments

For years, the only way to collect regular payments such as mortgages, rent, and utility bills were “Standing Orders and Direct Debits.” These two methods were the leaders of the industry but they came with their fair share of limitations. Both the methods are prone to errors as customers have to manually enter their bank data. There’s also a high rate of drop-off or abandonment during the payment process because the customers have to leave the ecosystem to set up the instructions. 

All thanks to the rise of subscription-based services, banks and eCommerce companies save a customer’s payment credentials on a file, combined with other necessary information to authorize a recurring payment. While this process seems better than Standing Orders and Direct Debits, it also leads to a poor and error-prone customer experience during set-up as customers have to manually enter the debit or credit card details.

For businesses on the receiving end, debit and credit card payments aren’t ideal. They’re expensive as businesses have to pay a percentage of the value on each transaction. With millions of payments, this can end up being a huge loss in revenue for businesses. Businesses also need to keep reminding customers to update their debit and credit card information in case of expiry. Payments can take up to 3 business days to reflect into the recipient’s account and that’s why it is essential to have a seamless recurring payments method.

Open Banking Recurring Payments: A New Era

Fortunately, open banking recurring payments are opening up new avenues for recurring payment services. It has allowed for a new method of online payments using “Open Banking APIs.” payment initiation or open banking payments are an instant, cost-effective alternative to accepting card payments and bank transfers. 

Operating separately from traditional banking card payments, payment initiations enable businesses to redirect end-users directly to their bank or building society so they can make payments seamlessly.

With open banking payment initiations, customers only have 3 steps to follow:

  • Customers have to choose their bank on the merchant’s page
  • Customers are then redirected to their banking app and authorize the payment
  • They’re then directed back to the merchant’s payment completion page. 

Customers don’t have to go through the hassle of finding their cards or manually entering debit or credit card details or account numbers. Open Banking Payments offer a customer more control over their finances compared to direct debits, enabling the transfer of money to a third-party account.

Power to Innovate

For businesses that work on a recurring or subscription-based model, and need better solutions, this exciting iteration of open banking payment initiation promises to accelerate innovation in payment experiences and promotes the creation of new types of financial products and services for the customers. 

With their wide applicability, Open Banking Recurring Payments will help businesses from all sectors streamline their long-term relationships all the while providing customers with innovative experiences. 

Categories
Fraud

Best Practices and Strategies for Fraud Prevention

With global fraud rising beyond control, it’s vital that organizations implement effective fraud prevention policies and procedures that provide security while ensuring a quality customer experience. With the best practices for fraud prevention, businesses can onboard customers quickly and seamlessly.

In the year 2019, the loss because of identity fraud in the U.S was estimated at $16.9 billion. There are more than 40 types of fraud, and businesses need to figure out which type of fraud can affect their business the most and build strategies for fraud prevention accordingly.

The threat of cybercrime is increasing, with the annual cost to the global economy from cybercrime estimated to reach $6 trillion by 2021. Countless online threats pose a significant risk of fraud for businesses. Cybercrime can also break down the internal compliance process, or it can weaken control systems that can detect illicit activities. Top fraud prevention and detection strategies can even help in picking out the best fraud prevention technologies

Understanding the threats and the tactics used by fraudsters to create new fraud opportunities is important for the development of the best practices for fraud prevention.

Types of Online Fraud

Fraud detection is a huge problem for businesses because fraudsters are constantly innovating to keep tricking businesses. To keep up, strategies for fraud prevention must also innovate to stay one step ahead.

Below are just some of the most common online fraud schemes that organizations should consider as part of their fraud prevention strategies.

1. New Account Fraud

New account fraud usually happens within 90 days of opening a new account. New account fraud is often referred to as application fraud or account origination fraud. As fraud happens so close to when the account was opened, the main purpose of the account was to commit fraud such as money laundering.

For businesses, new account fraud can be extremely dangerous as there’s no history with an existing business and no history of trust. The initial activities in the account may be small but they are often to cover future acts of fraud.

2. Card-Not-Present Fraud 

With the financial industry moving towards digital transformation, card-not-present fraud is something businesses would want to keep track of. There are huge risks of CNP fraud and the merchant is liable for any of the costs incurred during the fraud. 

To mitigate CNP fraud, businesses need effective fraud prevention strategies. By understanding the techniques that fraudsters use and the techniques available, you can develop and operate tactics that mitigate costs while being consumer-friendly.

Businesses should only rely on merchants that meet the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI). The PCI is an industry-standard for payment organizations to develop standards for payment data security.

3. Identity Fraud

Identity fraud is when a person assumes the identity of another person without authorization to deceive or defraud someone. 

With most of our lives going digital, fraudsters have no limit to the means of acquiring personally identifiable information (PII). Also, the constant rise in data breaches is making it easier for fraudsters to acquire information that they can use to assume identities. 

The data stolen from data breaches can be brought for as low as $4 on the dark web. In upcoming years, the risk of ID fraud will grow even bigger for businesses with synthetic identity fraud.

Synthetic identity fraud (SIF) is a new and more dangerous type of ID fraud where fraudsters combine real PII with some fake ID data to create a completely new identity. One example of what comprises a fake identity is one that contains a real social security number along with fake addresses and other synthetic data points. Fraudsters can then use synthetic identities to get a driving license, credit cards, open bank accounts, and so on.

Managing FinTech Fraud: Bank-FinTech Partnerships for Better Fraud Prevention

Banks have to fight fraud from all directions and recently the situation is worsening. When a bank partners with a FinTech in a Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) model, it mitigates risks by placing the responsibility for fraud losses onto the FinTech. However, since the economics of the bank and FinTech are linked, it is in the bank’s interest to ensure that controls are in place to help FinTech partners fight fraud while protecting the bottom line.

Additionally, most frauds are financial fraud that requires assessment and sending of suspicious activity reports to the relevant regulatory bodies. This is the reason banks have to be extremely careful while choosing a FinTech to partner with. In this article, we’ll be outlining the risk a FinTech faces while detecting fraud and is there any reason how FinTechs can work together to protect their businesses.

Common Risk to FinTechs

In 2020, the number of fraud cases in that financial sector surged as more people went online for their banking needs. According to industry reports, over $1 trillion was lost globally to cybercrime in 2020. Fraudsters recently have been focusing on the FinTech industry. FinTechs are slowly changing the industry tides by developing cutting-edge technologies to detect and prevent fraud. FinTechs are extremely attractive to consumers, because of the digital environment, low entry bar, mobile-first security and so much more. These are the same reasons why FinTechs are extremely attractive fraudsters within days of launch. 

FinTechs that offer financial services will have to prepare for fraud and will struggle to survive with precious capital to cover the losses. FinTechs with traditional fraud prevention methods like CDD is vulnerable to attack. As FinTechs become a vital part of the financial industry, the risks will keep growing as consumers become more and more familiar with online banking.

Type of Fraud FinTechs Go Through

With the wave of digital transformation, online fraud has grown more than anything. The most common types of fraud include phishing, synthetic ID fraud, online account takeover fraud, and digital transaction fraud. 

1. Phishing

Phishing scams are extremely common, they rely on tricking individuals by unknowingly volunteering personal details or information that can then be used for creating fake bank accounts, and credit cards. Fraudsters who carry out phishing scams build a fraudulent website, a fake text impersonating a government or private entity.

2. Synthetic ID Fraud

Synthetic ID fraud is one of the biggest challenges for financial institutions as of now. To commit synthetic ID fraud, fraudsters combine real “personally identifiable information” and fake information to combine a whole new identity. Such as a legitimate social security number from people who don’t use their credit (child, homeless people, deceased individuals, or someone else), combining that real information with a fake address, phone number, or fake social media accounts. Then this synthetic ID is used to open bank accounts, apply for credit cards and commit more illegal activities.

The first request is obviously denied, but the first application puts that fake identity into the credit reporting system, legitimizing the fake identity. The fraudsters will keep applying for credit cards, switching markets and providers with less mature identity verification processes until the fraudster finally get their hands on credit cards. 

3. Account Takeover Fraud

One of the biggest challenges faced by FinTechs is the Account Takeover Fraud, it costs the whole industry billions per year. Account takeover fraud and account opening fraud cause the most problems. More than 50% of businesses reported higher losses due to account opening and account takeover compared to any other type of fraud. 

Account takeover fraud is a situation where a fraudster takes control of a legit business account that belongs to someone else. Account opening fraud on the other hand happens whenever a fraudster opens a new account using a fake, stolen, or synthetic ID. 

4. Transaction Fraud

Transaction fraud is another common type of fraud where a stolen payment card is used to complete an illegal transaction. Since FinTechs are pretty good at completing real-time transactions, they are also at risk of running into transactional fraud. Quicker transaction times are one of the major factors that fraudsters look for in committing transactional fraud.

Transaction fraud can happen at any given time during a financial relationship. Account creation, login, and wherever money flows in and out of FinTech’s systems such as deposits, payments to merchants, withdrawals, etc.

Implementing Anti-Fraud Technologies During Account Creation

The steps for detecting and eliminating fraud should happen during all stages of a customer-business relationship. Businesses and financial institutions need to prevent bad actors from entering their systems, which can help significantly reduce fraud. 

To build the perfect anti-fraud technology & strategies to reduce fraud, businesses must use a combination of identity verification and authentication methods to deliver the ideal level of risk protection. Here are some of the most common fraud-prevention methods:

1. Identity Verification

Before a new account is opened, Identity verification technologies and procedures can detect potential fraudsters and prevent future damages. Anomalies in a person’s identity documents such as out-of-date information, mismatched data, and even the smallest red flags demand further examination. By cross-referencing multiple data points and data sources for ID checks, financial institutions can create stronger barriers for fraudsters.

While ID verification is extremely important, it shouldn’t create friction for legitimate customers. Finding the balance between a secure ID verification process and a positive customer experience is something financial institutions have to do. 

2. Biometric Authentication

Biometric authentication is another huge part of fraud detection and prevention for financial institutions. Biometric authentication authenticates a person by distinguishing biological traits to uniquely identify a person. Combining online document verification with biometric authentication provides multi-fold authentication for financial institutions. If done properly, this can help eliminate fraud while successfully maintaining a positive customer experience. 

3. MobileID Checks

Smartphones can help financial institutions prevent fraud by collecting a significant amount of ID data, including name, mobile number, address, and device information. To make a proper image of customer identity, this data can be cross-referenced with other ID data points. Mobile ID data can help financial institutions authenticate the individual, and the data collected can also help in finding potential future risks.

Collaborating With Banks for Better Fraud Prevention

As the fraudulent landscape becomes increasingly more complex, it becomes tough for banks and FinTechs to detect suspicious transactions and prevent illegal activities. Fraud prevention solutions that leverage data learning and machine learning can help FinTechs better safeguard themselves and detect fraudulent actions. 

By collaborating with banks, FinTechs can take a better approach to financial fraud prevention. Banks can bring their expertise in complying with ever-changing KYC, KYB, and AML regulations. Whereas, FinTechs can play their part and bring in the much-needed technological expertise. Financial technologies such as online document verification software and online bank account verification software and proof of address verification software tend to enhance the overall fraud detection and prevention programs. With a proper collaborative approach, FinTechs and banks (or other financial institutions) can fulfill the need for digital transformation, while ensuring a positive customer experience and preventing fraud.

Fraud Prevention Technologies for Financial Institutions

Businesses can build as many best practices for fraud prevention as they want, but without the help of the right technologies, fraudsters will find a way to sneak into the systems. By integrating technologies into the fraud prevention workflow, financial institutions can eliminate most of the major risks of fraud. 

DIRO’s online document verification service helps businesses with proof of address verification, bank account ownership verification and so much more to eliminate fraud. DIRO verifies over 7,000 document types from all over the globe instantly and provides stronger proof of authentication. By integrating DIRO into the workflow, businesses can successfully comply with AML and KYC regulations while ensuring a positive customer experience.

Categories
Finance

Financial API Integration

Over the last decade, a new financial landscape has come into existence using APIs. This ecosystem is interconnected, and open, and leads to building an array of new financial services that offer people more freedom to handle their finances. In this guide, we’ll walk you through what financial API integrations are and how they work. Also, how financial API integrations help both businesses and consumers.

Understanding Financial API Integrations

Application programming interfaces (APIs) are a set of tools and protocols that allow software programs to communicate with each other. API integration helps in connecting two or more applications together and allows for seamless exchange of data. 

Financial APIs are most often made to integrate a bank’s and financial institution’s core banking platform with third-party data networks and applications. This allows for safe and secure consumer-consented third-party access to essential account information such as account and routing numbers, balances, and transactional history. These financial API integrations allow these trusted third parties, be it FinTechs, mortgage, and auto lenders, or any other financial institutions, to build data-driven financial solutions.

How does Financial API Integration Work?

Based on how they’re used, financial API integrations can serve several roles, such as:

1. Partner API (One-to-One)

When financial API integrations are built directly to work between a financial institution and a financial app or service they’re known as partner APIs. These types of APIs are built when a financial institution uses a third-party vendor that builds a FinTech solution for them. These solutions are perfect for customers of a single institution, instead of being available to the general public.

2. Open API (Many-to-Many)

Open banking APIs are usually built by data networks, rather than by financial institutions or by a third-party vendor. By building API integrations with several financial institutions, the data network creates an open API that can connect several financial institutions for many FinTechs and services. 

In this situation, a FinTech app wants to allow customers from several financial institutions to connect their accounts to the app. The work of building API connections to each financial institution is carried out by a data network.

The term Open Finance comes from open banking APIs. In the open finance ecosystem, consumers have complete control over their financial data, and by letting third-party access consumer data, consumers can gain access to personalized services.

Types of API Integrations

There’s no limit on the type of APIs and the role they serve for businesses and consumers. Below, we have mentioned some of the most useful APIs that have been changing the financial landscape:

1. Account Verification

Account takeover fraud has become a common instance in recent times. Financial institutions have no way to verify if a consumer who’s trying to access a new FinTech app or service is legit or not. The new account that’s being created needs to be verified. This is the first step toward funding a new account on a trading app or connecting a bank account to a P2P payments platform.

The account verification process then verifies if the person using the account actually owns the account. This is crucial for preventing account takeover fraud. DIRO’s bank account verification fraud helps banks and FinTechs in verifying if an account is being used by the legit owner or not.

2. Balance

Once consumers authenticate their accounts, they can grant permission to different types of account data to digital financial tools that they want to use. One of these data is the account balance, by verifying a user has enough funds in their account, FinTechs can prevent users from going into a loss by making a transaction over their account balance. 

Balance-checking APIs also offer pre-funding, and if a new customer wants to add money to the FinTech app, the API will check if the person has enough balance in your account to handle the cost. Thus saving the consumer from the risk of non-sufficient fees. 

3. Transactions

A transaction API allows a bank, financial institution, or FinTechs to access a customer’s transaction data going from the past couple of months and years. This crucial data is vital for making personalized financial services possible. 

4. Account Aggregation

Most consumers have several accounts for checking, savings, loans, investments, credit cards, and more. It can get hard for users to manage all this data, so account aggregation APIs create a dashboard for users to manage their data in one place. 

Let’s say someone wants to access their entire investment portfolio in one place and show changes made in real-time. API integration between their investment accounts and a FinTech app could offer a solution.

An API integration that can automatically connect all the information and share it with the lender during the application process can greatly reduce manual efforts.

Benefits of API Integrations

Financial API integrations make it possible to fill the gaps left by basic banking services. This leaves room for private companies to create personalized financial services with ease. These services help in making several processes faster, more efficient, and more secure for consumers. 

The benefits of financial APIs can be broken down into 4 groups such as:

  • Financial institutions
  • FinTech companies
  • Consumers
  • Non-financial businesses

Need for a Connected Ecosystem

Financial APIs are becoming more and more essential for financial institutions, FinTechs, and consumers. Financial APIs allow for new possibilities that financial institutions and FinTech apps alone couldn’t provide. 

Categories
General

Information about New Indian Digital Currency

If you don’t know already, the Digital Rupee is India’s own regulated cryptocurrency that will be soon launched by the RBI. On February 1, while announcing the annual budget for 2022-23, Union Finance Minister “Nirmala Sitharaman” announced to the whole country that RBI will be launching an Indian digital currency in the financial year 2022-23. The currency will be called “Digital Rupee” and will be based on blockchain technology. Digital Rupee will be the rival for other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and more. There’s a lot of speculation about the Indian Digital Rupee. 

During the budget announcement, the finance minister said that India’s digital currency will be launched by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). She also stated that the Indian rupee digital currency will be a cheaper and more efficient method of sending and receiving money throughout the country. The launch of the new Indian digital currency is already under work with RBI making sure every step is followed through carefully. The RBI is working on an implementation strategy that makes sure that every part of the general populace has access to the currency while ensuring the safety of the users. As of now, there’s no set/fixed Indian digital currency launch date.  

The Digital Rupee can help the country lessen the usage of the older cash system.

Indian Digital Rupee: Coming This Year?

New Indian digital currency will operate on the well-known blockchain technology, which is the basis for all the other cryptocurrencies globally. There’s no news on whether or not users will be able to mine the currency, if yes, will it be considered legal?

India isn’t the first country to launch its own cryptocurrency. Before the Indian rupee digital currency, China already started and tested its cryptocurrency in several cities. The US and UK governments have also been considering starting their own cryptocurrency. 

While the government hasn’t proposed any bills on crypto, the two primary regulatory clarifications from the finance minister have made it clear that digital currency is a growing industry. As RBI will be launching the cryptocurrency, there will be some heavy regulations surrounding the currency, ensuring safety, efficiency, and fair transactions. Plus, as RBI will be entering the blockchain scene, it suggests that governments are seeing the benefits of blockchain technology and how it can help the consumers. 

Although, the hefty 30% tax on crypto transfer gains is sure to halt the new users entering the space. From here on, we can only wait and see where this Digital Rupee idea proposed by the Indian Government will head to.

What is CBDC in India?

Central Bank Digital Currency is what CBDC stands for. CBDC is the legal tender issued by a central bank in digital form, it’s the same as a fiat currency and is exchangeable one-to-one with fiat currency. The only difference between the two is their form.

What’s the Difference Between CBD & Cryptocurrency?

CBDC is a digital or virtual currency, but it’s not similar to other private currencies that have gained popularity over the last decade. As per the RBI, virtual currencies aren’t as useful as traditional money as they aren’t commodities and they have no intrinsic value. Whereas a CBDC is centralized, cryptocurrencies are decentralized and don’t represent the finances of a particular person or entity. 

The CBDC can also reduce transaction demand for bank deposits, but they reduce settlement risks, being-risk free, CBDC can lead to a shift from traditional banking services. If banks lose deposits, their ability to create credit will be limited and central banks can’t provide credit to the private sector. 

What’s the Need for CBDC in India?

There’s been a slow yet accelerating shift of digital payments combined with an all-time low interest in cash usage, especially for small value transactions. While CBDC is highly unlikely to replace the use of cash, the currency to GDP ratio, if switched to CBDC, would cut the cost of printing, transporting, storing, and distribution of physical currency.

Future Plans by RBI

The RBI has been figuring out the use cases and building an implementation strategy for introducing the CBDC with almost zero disruption to the cash-only economy. According to the Central Bank, several crucial elements need to be designed and tested before the digital rupee in the form of CBDC can be introduced. The RBI is working out implementation models and strategies, and use cases of the digital currency.

When’s the Expected Launch of Digital Rupee?

Even if the RBI is ready to launch the Digital Rupee for everyone, it’s impossible before the crypto law is passed and approved in Parliament. Some changes will be required in the RBI Act as well before the digital rupee is launched in India. Some of the most crucial changes in the RBI Act are:

  • Coinage Act
  • FEMA
  • Information Technology Act

Without the crypto bill, and small changes in the RBI Act, there’s no way that the Indian digital rupee is launched in the country. 

Categories
Onboarding

Customer Due Diligence

Security should be the first and foremost priority of financial institutions and banks. You wouldn’t want to provide access to financial systems to fraudsters of any kind? It makes sense for banks and financial services institutions to vet their customers and potential customers thoroughly. Verifying customers before giving them access to financial services is crucial. This is needed to prevent money laundering, embezzlement, account takeover fraud, and all types of fraud. And this is why customer due diligence is an important part of onboarding new customers. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through what is customer due diligence and what it means for banks and other financial institutions.

What Is Customer Due Diligence?

Customer Due Diligence (CDD) is the process of identifying your customers and checking if they are who they claim to be. Organizations need to properly risk-assess customers and give them a risk profile before onboarding them. To achieve CDD, businesses need to obtain a customer’s details and cross-reference them with those of an official document that confirms their identity. 

CDD is a regulatory requirement for banks, financial institutions, and other businesses starting a relationship with a new customer. The purpose of this is to prevent financial crime and prevent potential crimes that can happen by doing business with highly risky customers. 

In the customer due diligence, FIs have to analyze customer information from several sources, including the customer sanction lists as well as public and private data sources. The amount of information you collect depends on the risk profile of your customers. Basic customer due diligence requires the following:

  • Information about the identity of your customers, including their name, address, and a photograph of an official ID document.
  • An overview of your customer’s activities and the markets they do business in
  • Basic understanding of other entities that your customers do business with

Customer Due Diligence is at the foundation of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance. CDD is aimed to help financial institutions verify their customers, confirm they’re not on any sanctioned lists, and assess the risk factors.

Customer Due Diligence Practice for Banks

Financial institutions have to build and follow a risk-based strategy to comply with customer due diligence as part of KYC and other regulations. This helps in making sure that the organizations remain compliant with basic regulatory laws and regulations of the markets that they operate in. 

The level of CDD in banking depends on the type of business-customer relationship and the customer’s risk profile. In a broader sense, banks need to take the necessary steps to make sure that a customer is who they claim to be. This can help in preventing fraudulent activities such as identity fraud or impersonation.

What does a Customer Due Diligence Process Look Like?

An effective customer due diligence process includes collecting a series of detailed customer information before initiating a customer-business relationship. But that’s not all, a customer due diligence process is operational long after the customer is part of a business. Here are the requirements for a robust customer due diligence process.

  • Customer Information: To make sure that customers are who they claim to be, businesses need to collect customers’ basic information. This basic information is the full name, photo identification, address, phone number, email address, occupation, tax identification, and more. 
  • Business Information: CDD processes should have additional information regarding a customer’s business model, source of funds, and UBO.
  • Customer Risk Profile: Another crucial part of customer due diligence is building a risk profile for every customer. This risk profile is made by collecting information such as location, business type, and customer identity. Based on this information, a risk profile is built (low, medium, high), which is to show the level of money laundering risk they pose. A customer’s risk profile determines how much due diligence is needed for a customer. High-risk customers need more detailed diligence compared to low and medium-risk customers. 
  • Continuous Monitoring: The customer due diligence process doesn’t stop after customer onboarding by a bank/financial services industry. An ideal CDD measure should include some kind of ongoing monitoring system and keep an eye on high-risk clients, suspicious transactions, sudden changes to customer profiles, and so on. 

Your customer due diligence process should answer all the fundamental questions:

  • Is the applicant the person claiming online?
  • Does the risk profile of the applicant raise any red flags?

Low-risk customers can be fast-tracked through the approval process. All because of the online customer verification software and online bank account verification software. Because of the automation, customer verification has become 40% more streamlined. This means that the customer onboarding process for low-risk customers should be cut down to under 2 hours. 

However, the decision time for higher-risk individuals may still take longer. Most of the time it takes around 48-72 hours to onboard high-risk customers. Assuming that 90% of the customers will be low to medium-risk customers, the cost and efficiency gains of automated ID verification and AML screening can reduce the costs dramatically and improve user experience.

Streamlining Customer Due Diligence Process

Complying with KYC and AML requirements has made the account opening process complex and time-consuming for most businesses. Different banks take different amounts of time for onboarding new customers. But, on average a bank takes 24 days to complete the customer onboarding process. And with a growing number of regulations, it’s only going to get worse. 

Moreover, increased onboarding time and friction will cause higher abandonment rates by customers. These costs can exceed the costs of any type of fraud considering the lifetime value of lost customers. 

This is why it’s high time businesses need to streamline the CDD process to save money and get new customers.

1. Identity Verification

While there are a series of other ID verification methods, more and more businesses are now relying on automated identity verification to smooth out the onboarding process. Automated ID verification relies on AI, machine learning, and biometric verification to authenticate identity documents. In some cases, banks may even ask customers to perform a liveness check to ensure that the applicant is physically present instead of customers using a pre-recorded video.

2. Ongoing Monitoring & Screening

Not just ID verification, AI and machine learning software can easily provide financial institutions with a more effective transaction monitoring system. This reduces the risk of false positives for suspicious activity.

Same as building risk profiles, individual transactions can also be scored and combined with advanced algorithms that track expected vs actual transaction behavior and update customer risk ratings in real-time. 

Better ID verification, AML screening, and transaction monitoring solutions are enabling financial institutions to keep up with the changes made by regulatory bodies. These technological solutions can help financial services institutions to spot patterns and suspicious transactions by monitoring current transaction data and comparing them with historical transaction data.

Importance of CDD

When you consider the amount of harm fraudulent activities can do, it makes sense the amount financial institutions spend on complying with KYC and AML compliance. These countermeasures are designed to prevent money laundering and other financial frauds. 

Here are the main reasons why banks need to take CDD seriously:

  • Big compliance fines: The enforcement of AML regulations is on the rise, since 2009, regulators have levied over $32 billion in AML non-compliance fines. In 2020 itself, FinCEN fined banks in the United States for over $11.11 billion.
  • Sophisticated Cyber Crimes: Criminal are using more sophisticated methods to remain undetected, including globally coordinated tech, insider information, the dark web, and e-commerce.
  • Reputational Risk: AML non-compliance puts financial institutions’ reputations on the line. The average value of the top 10 banks is $45 billion. 
  • Rising Costs: Most AML compliance activities require a huge manual effort, making them inefficient and difficult to scale.

Enlightened Approach to CDD

A growing number of banks and FinTechs are discovering how to automate their CDD process and if needed the enhanced due diligence process. By using the latest tools and technologies such as online document verification and online KYC verification software, businesses can improve the customer due diligence process.

When is CDD Necessary in Banking?

  • Starting a Business Relationship: Before starting a new customer-business relationship, banks have to perform due diligence checks, verify who the customers and ensure if they aren’t using a fake identity. 
  • Occasional Transactions: Certain transactions may require you to follow CDD strategies. For example, transactions over a certain monetary amount (over USD 10,000) or if the customer is transacting with high-risk persons or regions.
  • Suspicious Activity: Banks have to implement CDD checks if the customers have a suspicious history and a shady activity related to money laundering or financing terrorism.

Unreliable Identification: If the information offered by your customer is unreliable, suspicious, or doesn’t meet requirements, banks should implement additional CDD measures. 

Reducing Customer Due Diligence Time: How to Go From Weeks to Minutes?

The regulations made for saving customers and businesses from fraud are diverse and institutions have to keep pace with developing strategies to remain compliant. As such, creating a smooth onboarding process that is robust and efficient isn’t a mean feat. The biggest challenge in staying compliant is for businesses to keep evolving requirements while reducing friction and delays. A process full of friction and delays lead to increased poor customer frustration and drop-offs. 

When onboarding new customers, financial institutions need to know who they are dealing with before getting into a full-fledged business relationship. To verify customer identities, due diligence is important.

Customer due diligence is an important part of your businesses’ risk management. Different customers have different levels of risks, so CDD is conducted based on risk level. You should assess the potential risk level of each customer, and adjust your due diligence strategy. For the majority of clientele, standard due diligence practices that just require the authentication of customer identities will suffice. 

In certain lower-risk scenarios, simplified due diligence is enough. When carrying out simplified due diligence, you just need to identify your customers instead of identifying and verifying them.

On other hand, there might be instances where standard due diligence isn’t enough, in this case, you’d need to adopt an enhanced due diligence process. 

Let’s break down 3 different levels of customer due diligence:

  1. Simplified Due Diligence (SDD): Simplified Due Diligence is used in situations where the risk of money laundering or terrorist funding is minimal and CDD isn’t important. SDD happens in accounts that have low transactional value, the risk of illegal activities is minimal at best.
  1. Customer Due Diligence (CDD): This type of diligence happens when information is obtained on customers to verify their identity and assess the risk profile of customers. These types of diligence checks are done on customers when opening a financial account in some form. 
  1. Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD): EDD is done for customers to assess the identities of high-risk customers and monitor their transactional history to mitigate the chances of future risks. Most jurisdictions need politically exposed people lists (PEPs) to go through the EDD process. Other factors that require EDD for a customer are high transaction/value accounts, or accounts that deal with high-risk countries, or accounts that deal with high-risk activities. 

Due diligence is vital for mitigating fraud, not only to comply with regulations and avoid hefty fines, but it is also a smart business strategy. Not knowing your customer identity is a risk factor for most businesses. 

International standards require a risk-based approach to be added to the customer due diligence. Companies have to assess the money laundering risks each customer poses and adjust their due diligence checks. 

Customer Due Diligence Checklist

1. Conduct Basic Customer Due Diligence

The first step is to conduct a simple investigation, such as identifying and verifying a customer’s identity. Businesses are needed to verify the identity of the customers they’re dealing with. These requirements apply to all new customers as part of Know Your Customer regulations. 

There are multiple methods businesses can verify customer identities. The first step is online document verification, which involves assessing the legitimacy of a customer’s identity document.

In addition to online ID verification, businesses should also look forward to verifying customers’ financial information and their business activities. 

2. Take Help from Third Parties

Most of the time, businesses will opt to work with third-party solution providers while conducting customer due diligence. Third-party solution providers can be auditors and providers of CDD solutions such as online document verification. Businesses need to make sure that any third parties they work with are reliable and are trusted enough to share confidential data.

3. Figure Out if EDD is Needed

If the customer is considered as high risk, the businesses may need to go beyond ordinary customer due diligence. Enhanced due diligence is necessary if you’re entering into a business relationship with a politically exposed person (PEP), and if the transaction involves a person from a high-risk country. 

4. Keep a Thorough Record

A bank/financial institution is forced by law to keep a record of all the financial transactions for at least 5 years. This includes any information collected through CDD measures, account files, and any related analysis.

Businesses also have to securely document and store all the information, as this information contains sensitive information, it would be challenging if the information was lost.

5. Keep Up-to-Date Records

It’s vital for businesses to keep records of their customers. If any changes happen regarding your customers, you’ll need to redo their risk assessment and carry out further due diligence if it’s required.

Speeding Up the Process

Regulated businesses have to apply risk-based customer due diligence measures to prevent their businesses from getting threatened by money laundering or terrorist financiers. To avoid these financial frauds, KYC & AML checks have to be completed. With proper due diligence checks, businesses can reduce the financial, reputational, regulatory, and strategic risks from other entities. 

Traditionally, businesses perform due diligence checks using manual paper-based processes. Manual work requires a human, and it takes up a lot of time, the process is full of errors and offers no visibility to the customers. The manual process usually is frustrating, and time-consuming. That’s why integrating new technologies into the CDD process is always a good idea. 

How does DIRO Help?

DIRO’s online document verification software offers instantaneous document verification that can easily strengthen the KYC & AML process. DIRO offers stronger proof of authentication with verifiable credentials. With DIRO being able to verify over 7000 document types from all over the globe, it can strengthen the AML and KYC verification process.