July 27, 2020

Firms turn to electronic verification as Covid-19 backlogs hit issuance of key ID documents

Backlogs in issuing official ID documents such as passports and driving licences are driving a surge of interest in remote, document-free electronic ID verification, according to anti-money-laundering (AML) specialist SmartSearch.

Both the Passport Office and the DVLA are advising customers of significant delays in issuing new ID or renewing existing documents. This is due to reduced capacity during the Covid-19 lockdown, and the resulting backlog of applications.

Firms that are required to verify the identity of their customers and perform due diligence are reporting that this is impacting on their business. They are unable to onboard new customers, or conduct significant transactions on behalf of existing ones, on the basis of ID that is close to or past its expiry date.

SmartSearch’s unique one-stop Know Your Customer (KYC) and AML solution provides a ready answer to such problems. No documents are needed: all that is needed is a name, address and date-of-birth to conduct a full set of AML checks, including screening against global sanctions and politically-exposed persons (PEP) lists.

The system also provides ongoing daily monitoring so that any change in a client’s status is automatically flagged up.

Crucially, all this is done remotely, including via a fully-integrated SmartSearch app. With Covid-19 still very much a factor, this removes the need for potentially risky face-to-face contact, and is also much more convenient for customers.

John Dobson, chief executive of SmartSearch, commented: “The backlogs at the Passport Office and DVLA are further indications of the way we’re all having to think again about how we conduct business in the wake of Covid-19.

“Earlier this week, the presenter of BBC Breakfast read out a comment from a viewer, saying that it’s impossible to buy a house without a valid passport. Thankfully, that isn’t the case.

“SmartSearch provides an easy way for firms to circumvent these problems – while also making the onboarding and KYC process quicker and simpler for both staff and customers.

“The advantages of electronic ID verification are clear, with or without Covid-19. It’s high time firms of all shapes and sizes embraced the benefits of going digital.”