DIFC and Mashreq Bank launch KYC Blockchain data sharing platform

DIFC and Mashreq Bank launch KYC Blockchain data sharing platform

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Mashreq have launched the region’s first blockchain data sharing platform, now live in production, to support licensed businesses and corporates opening digital bank accounts instantly.

In continuation of the consortium formed back in July 2019 between DIFC and Mashreq, the initiative known as Know Your Customer (KYC), along with the DIFC incubated FinTech firm, norbloc, was unveiled as a market-first  of its kind in the Middle East. DIFC and Mashreq took a strategic decision to harness this promising technology by focusing on a specific use case to enhance both the quality and integrity of corporate KYC information as well as quality of customer experience when opening bank account, which complement the ease of doing business in DIFC. The platform is now live and available to all UAE-based corporates and banks. DIFC and Mashreq take the recent KYC consortium announcement forward and announce the region-first live connection, built on the same chosen platform norbloc Fides.

Growing from an initial “Proof of Concept” to confirm the possibility of using cutting-edge blockchain technology, the KYC platform is now ready and open to all licensing authorities and financial institutions in UAE to join DIFC and Mashreq’s live blockchain experience for full-scale adoption under a unified nation-wide umbrella. The platform will make it easier and faster for new companies to do business in the UAE, removing existing paper-based KYC processes.

Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer, DIFC Authority said: “As the leading financial centre in the MEASA region, we take great pride in continuously enhancing and evolving the DIFC ecosystem in order to provide a world-class environment for our partners and community to conduct business. This initiative provides financial institutions and businesses a platform in order to seamlessly undertake operations. “We place a high importance on strategic collaboration with industry-leading financial institutions as part of our commitment to Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021 that will accelerate seamless transactions and improve the efficiency of working processes for Government entities and professionals at the Centre. “As we enter a new period of growth and expansion, our core focus on FinTech and blockchain are major steps on our journey towards transforming the future of finance.”

Ahmed Abdelaal, CEO of Mashreq, said: “In a true milestone for the banking sector in the UAE, Mashreq continues to lead the way in implementing emerging technologies into practical use for our customers. The program aligns with the UAE Blockchain Strategy 2021, earmarking the beginning of a journey towards a broader vision of forming a Consortium of Banks, Government Bodies as well as other Licensing Authorities, for seamless sharing of customer KYC data, thus leading to increased transparency, added security and a better customer experience.”

“As a digital leader, Mashreq will continue to innovate and elevate the banking experience for our customers and invest in solutions that make our operations more efficient and seamless, ultimately positioning the country as a global financial hub. The initiative also marks our commitment to fulfilling the vision of the UAE Banks Federation, Smart Dubai and UAE Central Bank to serve the greater good and promote ease of business,” he added.

This first-to-region digital account-opening product for businesses and corporates provided through partnership between DIFC and Mashreq, is a testament of the great potential of using blockchain technology. DIFC prepares the KYC record during the corporate license application and is shared electronically via blockchain with Mashreq, with customer consent, simplifying the process of opening a bank account. This single KYC solution for corporate entities, is a scalable ecosystem solution, available to all qualified financial institutions/licensing authorities and supports connectivity with other similar initiatives when they follow the footprints of DIFC and Mashreq into production.

As part of leading innovation in the region, DIFC and Mashreq transformed their business operations and IT platforms to ensure seamless connectivity between the two organizations and digitized the entire front and back end onboarding and KYC processes, to provide a true digital experience to customers.

To achieve this milestone, DIFC and Mashreq collaborated to define the business and operating framework, technical architecture, customer data protection schedules, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan and set-up the blockchain connectivity. Norbloc provided the Blockchain platform (Fides), Gowling WLG assisted in drafting the legal agreements, while Deloitte supported Mashreq with the overall governance and program management.

As part of DIFC’s legal framework, its Data Protection Law embodies international best practice standards, and is consistent with EU regulations and OECD guidelines. It is designed to balance the legitimate needs of businesses and organizations to process personal information while upholding an individual’s right to privacy.

Based on the experience and learnings from the production implementation, DIFC and Mashreq have also conceptualized a consortium framework covering key tenets required for large-scale adoption by other participants joining the ecosystem. Key aspects around consortium governance (ownership structure, oversight, decision making process), business model (participation criteria, commercial model) and operating model (technical considerations, operating guidelines, change management, data confidentiality, dispute management, liabilities and indemnities etc.) are defined and ready for ecosystem scale up.

This is the second Blockchain KYC initiative with Norbloc this month. The first was launched last week in UAE with six leading banks

DIFC Mashreq Bank and Norbloc had announced in August of 2019 that they would be implementing a blockchain KYC Consortium.

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