Today, user onboarding is all about speed and convenience. Customers expect a frictionless sign-up process. But for businesses in the financial sector, striking a balance between user onboarding and regulatory compliance can seem difficult. Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations ensure it is not a playground for money launderers and terrorist financiers.

Money laundering, estimated at €715 billion to €1.87 trillion annually (2-5% of global GDP), poses a significant threat to the global economy, according to the UNODC.

The US is a prime target for these illicit activities. To combat this threat, KYC/AML regulations play a crucial role in safeguarding the financial system and protecting legitimate businesses.

This article will equip US businesses requiring digital identification services with the knowledge and tools for KYC/AML compliance when onboarding their new customers and employees. We'll go into the regulations, explore the role of key players, and provide a step-by-step approach to achieve a compliant and user-friendly onboarding process.


What are KYC/AML Compliance Regulations in User Onboarding

KYC/AML stands for Know Your Customer/Anti-Money Laundering. These regulations are designed to prevent financial crime by requiring businesses to verify the identities of their customers and monitor their transactions for suspicious activity.

The fight against financial crimes like money laundering and terrorism financing is a global effort. The US has established a powerful framework through the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 and its participation in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). These regulations aim to prevent criminals from using the financial system for illicit activities. A guide to KYC/AML compliance will help you understand how to implement these regulations in user onboarding.


Who Needs to Comply with KYC/AML Regulations?

A wide range of financial institutions in the US are subject to KYC/AML regulations. Here are some key players who need to be compliant:

• Banks: This includes traditional banks, credit unions, and online banking platforms.

• Money Service Businesses (MSBs): These businesses provide services like money transfers, check cashing, and currency exchange.

• Insurance Companies: Insurance providers are required to implement KYC/AML procedures to prevent fraudulent insurance claims.

• Brokers/Dealers in Securities: These entities dealing with securities like stocks and bonds need to comply with KYC/AML regulations.

• Domestic and Foreign Financial Institutions with US Operations: Even foreign financial institutions with a presence in the US must adhere to KYC/AML rules.


What is the Role of FinCEN in KYC/AML Compliance?

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau under the US Department of the Treasury, is the main regulatory body overseeing AML compliance. FinCEN plays an essential role in the following ways:

• Issuing Regulations: They establish and enforce Anti-Money Laundering Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CFT) regulations for financial institutions.

• Collecting Data: FinCEN collects Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs) filed by financial institutions, acting as a repository of financial intelligence for law enforcement.

• Enforcing Compliance: FinCEN investigates and penalizes institutions found to be non-compliant with AML regulations.

Further reading: A Comprehensive Guide to AML Compliance Reporting


Step-by-Step Guide to KYC/AML Compliance in User Onboarding in the United States

Now that we understand the context, let's dig into the practical steps for achieving KYC/AML compliance in your user onboarding process:


1. Establish Policies and Procedures:

• Develop a risk-based AML program tailored to your specific business model and the risks associated with your customer base and industry.

• The program should outline your approach to customer identification, verification, risk assessment, transaction monitoring, and reporting.

• Consider seeking guidance from legal professionals or AML compliance consultants to ensure your program aligns with the latest regulations.


2. Customer Identification Program (CIP):

Implement a Customer Identification Program (CIP) to collect essential information from your customers. This includes:

  • Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Address
  • Government-issued ID number (e.g., Social Security Number)


3. Document Verification:

Verify the collected customer information with reliable documentation. This may involve obtaining and verifying:

  • Government-issued photo IDs (driver's license, passport)
  • Documents confirming your address

Also, consider using digital verification providers like Youverify to streamline this process. Youverify utilizes advanced document verification technology and secure data connections to ensure the authenticity of submitted documents, saving you time and resources.


4. Risk Assessment:

  • Customer type (individual, corporation)
  • Geographic location (higher risk jurisdictions)
  • Source of funds
  • Transaction history


5. Ongoing Monitoring:

Continuously monitor customer transactions for suspicious activities that could indicate money laundering or terrorist financing. Red flags to watch for include:

  • Transactions exceeding expected activity levels and lacking a demonstrable economic justification
  • Transactions involving high-risk countries or individuals
  • Unusual activity patterns compared to established customer behaviour


6. Reporting:

File Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) with FinCEN when you suspect illegal activity. SARs are crucial for law enforcement agencies to investigate potential financial crimes.

Additionally, certain cash transactions exceeding a specific threshold require filing Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs) with FinCEN.

Following the above KYC?AML compliance for user onboarding can be easier when organizations make use of the best digital customer onboarding software.


Best Practices for KYC/AML Compliance for User Onboarding


1. Streamlining the KYC process is key to maintaining a user-friendly onboarding experience that fosters high conversion rates while adhering to regulations. Here are some additional tips:

2. Simplify the Process: Aim for a user-friendly onboarding experience. Leverage digital solutions like Youverify to automate document verification and minimize friction for your customers.

3. Stay Updated: The regulatory outlook is constantly developing. Regularly review and update your AML program to ensure compliance with the latest FinCEN guidelines.

4. Invest in Technology: Consider utilizing digital verification providers like Youverify. Youverify offers a suite of KYC/AML tools that streamline customer onboarding, enhance data security, and free up your resources to focus on core business activities. Youverify's solutions are built with compliance in mind, ensuring your adherence to KYC/AML regulations.



KYC/AML compliance might seem frightening at first, but with the right approach, it doesn't have to be a hindrance. By following the steps outlined above and embracing technological advancements like Youverify's digital verification solutions, you can achieve a flawless onboarding process that meets regulatory requirements and provides a positive user experience. 

A compliant and secure onboarding process is about safeguarding your business, protecting your customers, and building a foundation for sustainable growth.

Ready to simplify your KYC/AML compliance and simplify your user onboarding process? Visit Youverify today! We offer a range of digital verification solutions custom-fit to meet the specific needs of your business. Let Youverify help you achieve effortless compliance and focus on what matters most to growing your business.