What is KYC - Know Your Customer?

Know Your Customer (KYC) is a process that verifies a customer's identity and checks for any potential risks associated with the customer. It is an essential part of maintaining an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program, as well as helping to keep customers safe from fraud and other criminal activities. The KYC process involves collecting information such as name, address, date of birth, and other personal details, which must then be verified against authoritative sources such as government databases.

The purpose of this process is to ensure that customers are who they say they are and to detect any suspicious behavior or potential financial crime. By verifying the identities of customers at the outset, businesses can reduce their risk exposure, comply with regulatory requirements and protect themselves from financial crime, such as money laundering and terrorist financing. Additionally, the KYC process helps to build trust between customers and businesses, fostering a better customer experience and strengthening relationships with their clients.

Moreover, it is important for businesses to keep up-to-date on their customer data in order to comply with regulatory requirements and ensure that the information held about customers is accurate. To this end, KYC processes should be regularly reviewed and updated when necessary in order to remain compliant with regulations. In short, Know Your Customer (KYC) is an important part of any business' security strategy and can help protect them from financial crime while providing a better service to customers. As such, it is essential that all businesses have a robust KYC process in place in order to remain compliant, protect customers, and reduce their risk exposure.

In conclusion, KYC is an invaluable tool for businesses in helping them to identify and protect against any potential financial crimes or fraudulent activities. It also provides customer assurance that their data is secure and helps build trust between the business and its clients. By having a well-defined KYC process in place, businesses can ensure they are complying with regulatory requirements while also providing customers with a greater level of protection. Furthermore, regularly reviewing and updating customer information allows businesses to be certain that all data held remains accurate and up-to-date. Ultimately, Know Your Customer (KYC) is crucial for any business wanting to reduce their risk exposure.

Simplified Example

KYC, or 'Know Your Customer', is like when you buy something from a store. The storekeeper needs to know who you are so that they can make sure it's really you buying the product, and not someone else pretending to be you. Knowing your customer helps keep everyone safe by preventing fraud and money laundering. In the same way, financial institutions use KYC to ensure their customers are legitimate and protect against any illegal activities.  This is why people are often asked for their proof of identity and other personal information when opening a new bank account. By doing KYC checks, financial institutions can protect themselves and their customers from any potential risks. This helps keep everyone safe.

History of the Term "KYC"

The precise origin of the term "KYC" is uncertain, but it is thought to have surfaced in the early 20th century, potentially originating in the context of banking regulations. The term garnered broader recognition during the 1980s and 1990s as the global financial system expanded, necessitating increased international collaboration to combat financial crimes.


Verifying the identity of users through government-issued documents like passports or national IDs. In some cases, facial recognition technology may also be required to complete KYC procedures.

Collecting and verifying additional information such as addresses and contact details from users in order to confirm the accuracy of their identity.  Ongoing monitoring of user activity, to ensure that users are compliant with any applicable laws or regulations of the jurisdiction in which they operate. This includes screening for potential money laundering and terrorist financing activities.

Checking if users are on any governmental sanctions or watch lists in order to ensure that they comply with legal regulations. This is especially important for exchanges that are regulated by local authorities and require thorough background checks.

  • Anti-Money-Laundering: A set of laws, regulations, and procedures aimed at preventing the illicit use of the financial system for the purpose of concealing or disguising the proceeds of criminal activity.

  • AMLD5: The "Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive," a set of regulations aimed at preventing money laundering and the financing of terrorism in the European Union (EU).