Dubai Economic Department and 6 UAE Banks launch KYC Blockchain consortium

Dubai Economic Department and 6 UAE Banks launch KYC Blockchain consortium

Dubai Economy, along with Emirates NBD, Emirates Islamic, HSBC, RAKBANK, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) and Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD), has formed a consortium for sharing of verified KYC (Know Your Customer) data between banks and licensing authorities in the UAE. Part of the strategic focus of Dubai Economy on enhancing ease of business in Dubai and supporting the smart transformation of the emirate’s economy, the ‘KYC Blockchain Consortium’ will facilitate a faster, more secure onboarding and exchange of digital customer data and documents through advanced blockchain-powered distributed technologies, a first of its kind in the region. 

“Our strategic alliance with banks to launch the first KYC blockchain platform in the UAE is an important step towards continuing to attract investors to this market,” His Excellency Ali Ibrahim, Deputy Director General of Dubai Economy said.“The platformwill offer a digital ‘Instant Bank Account’ functionality, allowing for faster and less cumbersome onboarding journey with banks and significantly improving the experience of new investors looking to establish themselves in the UAE. This in turn will boost customer satisfaction as well as ease of doing business in the UAE as a whole.” 

His Excellency added that the initiative aligns well with the leadership’s vision and aspiration of improving the UAE’s global rankings in ‘Doing Business’ and ‘Competitiveness.’ “We are excited to onboard some of the leading banking institutions to establish what will eventually become a nationwide ecosystem and we invite other financial institutions and licensing authorities to join in this initiative.”  

The Consortium will drive the mutualisation of KYC efforts among existing and future ecosystem participants on a common platform. The KYC platform will launch in the first quarter of 2020 at which point it will open for additional qualified financial institutions and licensing authorities to join. The future vision is for the Consortium-run ecosystem is to serve the greater good by improving ease of doing business as well as overall regulatory compliance in UAE. Smart Dubai in collaboration with the UAE Central Bank will play a pivotal role in overseeing and regulating the Consortium operations. 

His Excellency Wesam Lootah, CEO of the Smart Dubai Government Establishment, said: “Smart Dubai has made significant headway in its plans to embrace advanced technologies and tailor them into services that ensure better quality of life and higher levels of happiness for all of the city’s residents and visitors. Blockchain is a breakthrough of particular importance for us; we see in it tremendous potential to streamline services and operations, saving time, money, and resources for everyone involved – individuals, companies, or governments. It is due to this spirit the Smart Dubai Department has successfully delivered several projects and initiatives across all pillars of the Dubai Blockchain Strategy.

 “Collaboration is a core tenet of the Strategy,” HE Lootah added. “We are happy to see a group of prominent and pioneering entities come together to establish the KYC Blockchain Consortium, bringing together respective datasets in a safe and secure manner to create a new and advanced service that helps investors and further improves ease of doing business in the UAE.” 

With the launch of the KYC Blockchain platform, authenticated and validated KYC data of companies will simultaneously be shared with financial institutions of their preference. This will expedite the opening of a bank account for newly registered companies and reduce the burdensome and costly requirements of managing KYC data for already registered companies. This is in stark contrast to the status quo, whereby multiple paper-based KYC files are redundantly originated and managed in silos. 

Through forming a consortium to launch the first KYC Blockchain Platform in UAE, Dubai Economy, Emirates NBD, Emirates Islamic, HSBC, RAKBANK, ADCB and Commercial Bank of Dubai have fully demonstrated their commitment and leadership to adopting innovative technologies with the objectives of better serving their customers and fulfilling regulatory obligations. 

Abdulla Qassem, Group Chief Operating Officer, Emirates NBD, said, “We are delighted to be among the first partners of this significant initiative which will bring greater transparency and efficiency to doing business in Dubai. The consortium leverages Emirates NBD’s experience as a pioneer in digital banking, especially in the nascent field of blockchain verification, and is an important milestone towards boosting Dubai’s established credentials as a globally competitive centre for investors. As Dubai’s leading bank, we will continue to support such public-private sector collaborations that benefit the nation and its economy.” 

“At RAKBANK, we are thrilled to be a part of the nationwide initiative created by Dubai Economy called ‘Instant Bank Account’ that aims to digitize the onboarding process, making it more seamless, secure and frictionless. The concept of a Blockchain-based KYC platform will optimize costs by enabling financial and banking institutions to deviate from the outdated process of identification verification and take full advantage of today’s blockchain technology that has the potential to be faster, easier, safer and more efficient than the traditional verification processes”, said Geoff Stecyk, COO, RAKBANK. 

Dr. Bernd van Linder, CEO of Commercial Bank of Dubai, said, “We are delighted to join the first KYC Blockchain Consortium in the UAE, initiated by Dubai Economy, which will significantly improve the customer on-boarding journey and facilitate a faster and more secure digital KYC process using advanced blockchain-powered distributed technologies leading to enhanced ease of doing business in the UAE. CBD has always been committed to enhance the overall business climate and support investors in line with our ‘default digital’ strategy by adopting innovative digital tools and technology, providing them with innovative solutions and delivering a seamless banking experience.” 

"At HSBC, the vast majority of our customers transact digitally and we see blockchain as a powerful tool able to benefit customers across the board – particularly here in the UAE, where we are once again helping set a new global standard in banking technology,” said HE Abdulfattah Sharaf, Chief Executive Officer UAE and Head of International, HSBC Bank Middle East Limited. 

Mr. Saoud Al Jassem, Head of Government Banking, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, said, “As ADCB continues on its Digital Transformation journey, it is committed to accelerating the growth of the UAE economy through delivering meaningful innovation for its clients. The Blockchain KYC Production Platform will allow corporate clients to experience seamless registration and account opening and enhanced KYC capabilities.  Additionally, it will ensure the UAE, in line with the Vision 2021, is a world leader in terms of the ease of doing business in the country.  ADCB looks forward to working with the DED, norbloc and the consortium members to expand the Blockchain KYC Production Platform across the UAE.” 

The Consortium has partnered with norbloc, a global leader in blockchain KYC, as the technology provider to enable the ecosystem through its Fides KYC Platform. Dubai Pulse, a joint initiative between Smart Dubai and du, is the government-certified blockchain platform enabler. The platform offers varied features including scalability and facility to onboard new entities, with capabilities for entity nodes to be hosted either on Dubai Pulse or on external infrastructure. 

“The launch of the first UAE KYC Blockchain Platform is testament to the vision of the joining entities, and to their understanding that seamless, digital customer journeys are the future,” said Astyanax Kanakakis, CEO and Co-founder of norbloc. “Our platform Fides allows for the removal of regulated data silos, better compliance oversight and customer service. We believe this consortium will create a unified ecosystem for data sharing among all UAE financial institutions and establish the global standard for sharing of KYC data.” 

Marwan Bin Dalmook Senior Vice President - ICT Commercial & Business Development – Enterprise Solutions at du, said: “At du, we are heavily immersed in unlocking the benefits of blockchain to empower government entities and enterprises in the UAE. With the launch of BPaaS, we have continued to illustrate proof points and use cases for how this formative technology can produce real world solutions to real world challenges. We are proud to be connecting the varied sectors in the UAE to the future of technology and we look forward to facilitating the KYC journey for dozens of more government entities.”

Prior to this announcement DIFC, Mashreq Bank and Norbloc has announced in August of 2019 that they were to form a KYC Consortium. It is interesting that Mashreq Bank is not part of the newly annouced consortium. In addition this is not the first time that banks in the UAE form a consortium. Previously eight UAE banks formed a consortium called UAE Trade Connect for trade finance platform using blockchain 

Source: DED press release
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