By Legal Futures Associate VirtualSignature-ID
Digital onboarding platform provider, VirtualSignature-ID, has launched its SmartSign-Plus Advanced eSignature application, with digital 3D liveness proof of identity included free of charge. This will enable SMEs to more easily adopt digital identity verification. The new software allows businesses in the legal, financial, accountancy and property sectors to verify the identity of both the signer and, where applicable, the witness, within seconds, to ensure that prospective clients are who they say they are.
The latest Cifas Fraudscape revealed that identity fraud increased by 23% between 2021 and 2022 and reached unprecedented levels. More than 277,000 identity fraud incidents were reported, representing 68% of cases on the National Fraud Database. Cifas reported that 86% of identity fraud is perpetrated through online channels and noted an increase in the use of synthetic identities and deep fake technology.
UK banks, law firms, conveyancers, property management firms, and accountants are bound by the Anti Money Laundering (AML) Regulations, 2017, and Know Your Client (KYC) rules, and must follow the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) guidance on preventing financial crime. This involves undertaking due diligence when accepting new customers, including requesting proof of identity.
Professional services firms play a crucial role in combatting terrorist financing and money laundering, particularly in the property sector. To combat property fraud, British conveyancers are required by law to undertake due diligence on property purchasers, using approved documentation to verify the identity, address, and source of funds of any prospective clients.
Undertaking paper-based AML and KYC processes is time-consuming, error-prone, and costly. The majority of firms in scope are micro businesses with fewer than ten employees. Yet they risk financial penalties of up to £25,000 from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for failing to perform these checks. SmartSign-Plus is designed to ease the transition to digital methods of carrying out KYC, AML and background screening on prospective clients and supports business growth, while managing risk.
For mid-sized professional firms, new digital onboarding platforms are often incompatible with existing case management, document management, or practice management systems, resulting in disjointed workflows and requiring expensive software development. SmartSign-Plus includes an API that smoothly integrates with commonly-used systems including iManage, Visualfiles, P4W, Intapp, Actionstep, Linetime, SOS and others, and ensures that every eSignature, document exchange and 3D liveness ID check has a date and time stamp and geo-location audit, to provide a digital record of compliance.
David Kern, CEO and founder of VirtualSignature-ID comments, “Owing to the government’s drive to use technology to assist with remote identity checks required for compliance with AML, KYC, Right to Work and Right to Rent, firms are under pressure to implement systems that will carry out these tasks securely, and provide an audit report that satisfies regulators, while still providing a good user experience.”
Explaining the inclusion of free digital ID checks with 3D facial liveness detection with the SmartSign-Plus application, David Kern, says “Having personally experienced the misery of identity fraud twenty years ago, I’ve made it my mission to help every business benefit from using digital checks to comply with KYC regulations and combat financial crime. This provides the certainty that when professional service companies are onboarding a new client, the background checks will be carried out using government-approved software. We’re bringing enterprise-level digital ID checking technology within reach of SMEs.”
VirtualSignature-ID acquired Identity Service Provider (IDSP) status in November 2022, following a stringent audit process which certified that it conforms to the UK Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework, overseen by the Department for Innovation, Science and Technology. The platform was recognised as Most Innovative Cloud Product in the 2023 Computing Cloud Excellence Awards.