Posted: 09/12/2020

They say a problem shared is a problem halved. But what if the problem is one being faced by many across an entire industry? How do you go about sharing and solving? And can you really halve the problem?

Well, here at Digital Jersey, we think we may have just done that for the island’s finance industry.

Finos, a disruptive tech company which specialises in KYC (know your customer) and CDD (client due diligence) solutions approached us around a year ago about some of its innovative ideas.

At the same time, I was very aware of the need of our island’s finance industry to improve on the costs and inefficiencies related to their KYC and CDD processes.

Was this one example where our track-record of removing barriers to progress and making things easy for our clients and members could make a real, tangible difference?

In a nutshell: absolutely.

We pulled together a Sandbox Jersey working group to drill down into the details of this issue to truly understand what was at play, and to fully scope out the opportunity we were looking at.

Together with Jersey Finance, RBSi and leading fund administrators & managers we collaborated as a team of key stakeholders on product development every step of the way, while ensuring the regulator, the Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) were able to review that progress in real time. The JFSC also referenced this Sandbox initiative in a report they issued in July 2020: Exploring smart regulation: An assessment of the options for developing a shared KYC utility for the Jersey financial services sector

This approach to collaboration led to fast-development turnaround cycles, with a nimble and agile approach to iteration, something the finance industry isn’t always known for.

It’s not about cutting corners, it’s about reducing bureaucracy, ensuring the right people are in the room to say yes, no or maybe, and maintaining that high momentum.

The result is a Jersey-based CDD sharing network ‘MeshID’ that is safe and efficient using a trusted network on blockchain technology.

As Gui Vohringer, the co-founder of Finos, put it: “What makes this group unique is that we not only talk about what we’re going to build, but we actually built it. We delivered a product at the end of each month in an iterative way which allowed us to accelerate the development of the product and get the solution to market much quicker.”

And that’s what Sandbox Jersey is all about.

That ability to work together, to bring the right people together, and to innovate together, is a positive outcome for all.

It means, in this case, we’re able to strengthen Jersey’s position as a well-regarded and well-regulated international finance centre, creating digital solutions to fight financial crime which leading bodies such as FATF, the Financial Action Task Force, are actively encouraging.

And, of course, it positions Jersey among the forward-thinking jurisdictions in the world when it comes to finding innovative ways to reduce the burden of KYC/CDD on clients, while strengthening the tools in the armoury of financial services firms looking to detect, minimise and prevent risk.

A problem shared? Absolutely!

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