What is Know Your Customer (KYC)?

What is a KYC (Know Your Customer)?

KYC is an abbreviated form of know your customer. Know your customer is a systematic process that business enterprises carry out in order to verify the identity of their respective potential customers. Know Your Customer regulations aid businesses to identify customers with criminal intentions and protecting their business from illicit financial transactions. Nowadays, entities of all sizes have Know Your Customer procedures in place to ensure that their potential customers, consultants, representatives, or distributors are genuine and bonafide.

Read more about: The importance of Customer Identity Verification

Insurers, banks, and many other financial institutions, and the Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs) are rapidly employing detailed customer due diligence (CDD) processes. Know Your Customer or KYC plays an essential role in determining and eliminating the risks associated with serious crimes like money laundering, corruption, bribery, fraud, terrorist financing, and other illicit financial activities.

What is the importance of Know Your Customer (KYC)?

Know Your Customer or KYC is a standard global requirement within the economy, specifically for the industries with huge investments and high-risk elements. It is a process from the regulatory bodies of the industry in order to protect all the stakeholders within the industry. Therefore, KYC is in the best interest of any investor or investment firm, especially when a considerable amount of money is at stake.

In addition to the Know Your Customer process for new customers, conducting KYC for existing customers or investors is also required. Maintaining accurate and updated records in the organization about clients is critical.

Here is the importance of KYC for business organizations as well as customers.

For business organizations

If a business enterprise complies with a KYC policy, it will reduce its risks of any kind of financial uncertainties. Having insights about the source of income or a large pool of funds of a particular customer, gauging their capabilities of investing in the financial market, and checking their economic background or portfolio are the essential aspects of the Know Your Customer process.
These checks can also be crucial risk management strategies in order to avoid getting entangled in professional relationships with potential customers who might have committed any sort of illicit activities or have intentions to do so.

Know Your Customer process also helps in establishing trust in a professional relationship and gives insights into the nature of the customer’s activities. In addition to that, the KYC process is a crucial part of the customer or client onboarding process. As a result, it can exponentially improve investors’ overall servicing and management over the course of the relationship.

For customers

The need and importance of knowing your customer (KYC) are not entirely clear from the customer’s point of view. However, the protection of their own clients or customers is the priority of regulators. All of these rigorous checks can be a cumbersome process for investors. However, they create a trustworthy and secure environment to enable investment or financial activities with the respective business entity.

Ever-evolving technology allows for a smoother and streamlined onboarding process that helps the customer save a lot of money and, most importantly, precious time. The technology behind protecting sensitive and confidential information has also evolved with the help of methods like encryption and advanced authentication, giving customers confidence in the entire KYC process.

Know Your Customer process will help in making the customer understand that they are associated with a legitimate company.

With AML and KYC regulations, the organization can quickly identify whether the transaction executed or proposed to be executed with a particular customer is legal or illicit. The anti-money laundering KYC regulations include the authentication of customers, document verification like address proof, biometric verification, and face verification. It also requires identification and periodic updating of customer’s sensitive and personal information. When these steps are followed, noticing any unusual movement by any customer becomes relatively easier to notice.

Business enterprises usually start to recognize their clients with their general credentials. The client is then evaluated for authenticity. Customer due diligence or CDD aids the organization in this situation. It keeps the organization protected against the evils of money laundering and financing or terrorist activities from high-risk customers such as criminals, Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs), and terrorists posing a risk to the business organization. This helps the business entity identify the category of due diligence to be applied to a specific customer, for example, enhanced due diligence (EDD) for customers who belong to high-risk categories. Lastly, regular monitoring of the customers is necessary as part of the KYC process.

Implementing an effective KYC process

Here are a few steps that you need to follow in order to make the most out of KYC processes.

Step 1 - Customer profiling

Business enterprises have the right to determine the customer acceptance criteria and reject a certain group of individuals. For example, various factors like past records of criminal history or geographical locations might determine clients’ risk levels.

Step 2 - Customer identification

Obtaining personal information like birth certificates, valid identity documents, income documents, and proof of address in order to verify the identity of the customers.

Step 3- Transaction monitoring

Tracking the transactions of the clients while understanding the source of the customer’s income and also details about ultimate beneficial owners. If needed, reporting customers to proper authorities if any suspicious transactions are found.

Step 4- Risk management

Assessing customers and assigning them a legitimate risk score based on their background information, profiles, and transaction data. This includes refusing the supply of service to suspicious customers and reporting such suspicious or abnormal activities with concerned authorities if need be.


AML UAE provides AML Consulting Services in UAE to help businesses remain compliant with the provisions of AML Law. AML UAE can help you implement an ideal KYC process in Dubai, UAE and train your staff in carrying out customer identification and verification. Get in Touch Now!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

KYC, or Know Your Customer as per Anti-Money Laundering Laws in UAE is a process of identification and verification of your customers before initiating any business transactions with them. 

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About the Author

Pathik Shah


Pathik is a multi-disciplinary professional with more than 22 years of experience in compliance, risk management, accounting, system audits, IT consultancy, and digital marketing. He has extensive knowledge of Anti-Money Laundering rules and regulations, and he helps companies comply with legal requirements. Pathik also helps companies generate value from their IT investments.