Merchant Onboarding and Tighter KYC Norms: This Startup Has a Solution

As a part of their digital payment initiative, the Government of India has set a target for the installation of 5.5 million point-of-sale (POS) machines by September 2017.

AP Hota, MD and CEO of NPCI recently said, Now it is 2.5 (million), you can say. Another three million has to come. One million traditional PoS, one million QR code (-enabled PoS) and one million Aadhaar (-enabled PoS). He added that the government also plans to assign bank-wise targets in order to meet the September deadline.

However, there is a problem.

A typical merchant onboarding process takes a couple of weeks from the point of acquiring to their merchant ID getting generated in the core system of the acquirer bank. The complications arise here as a merchant entity can be of different types; for each entity type, there is a different kind of KYC validation required. Unlike an individual, these entities do not have an Aadhaar-based mechanism to do API-based validations.

Most of the KYC process is manual, which along with verification takes a long time. This not only increases the time required for onboarding but also significantly increases the costs of acquiring and onboarding the merchant.

Lets see this from the cost perspective

In light of the recent regulations tightening the KYC norms, PPIs now require full KYC for their customer accounts. With the current manual processes in place, this will significantly increase the significantly increase onboarding cost, especially with smaller merchants with a low payment volume. The leading wallet players like Paytm (200 million Users), MobiKwik (45 million users) and Freecharge (10 million active users as of Nov’16) will now face a huge challenge ahead to conduct the full KYC of all their customer accounts.

This is one of the major reasons why acquirers (banks and PPIs likewise) focus on large merchants and do not find it viable to onboard the smaller merchants. Not only do they lose out on a significantly high share of customers in form of these small merchants, but also the increased cost of doing full KYC will impact their profit margins.

Now, even though the traditional KYC process is time-consuming, the risk of fraud in the merchant acquiring business is not fully mitigated as most of these checks are based on human verification. Therefore, any human error or connivance can lead to fraudulent merchants getting onboard the system. No detailed background or criminal checks are done for these merchants at the time of onboarding. This can cause additional damage to an intermediary like bank later if a fraud occurs, potentially harming their brand value.

Just when it looks like the issuers and small merchants are going to have tough times ahead, Signzy is here to help, because establishing trust in a digital ecosystem is the most valuable currency.

The winner of RBI’s Payment Systems Innovation Contest in 2016, Signzy’s digital merchant onboarding and KYC offerings enable issuers (banks, PPIs) to be well ahead of the challenges. Signzy has a white-label solution which enables complete digital onboarding of a merchant. It is faster, cheaper and does a background check on the merchant using smart anti-fraud algorithms. It is plugged into multiple data sources and is able to perform real-time authentications for different entity types and takes care of the complicated KYC regime.

Signzy’s solution does real-time validation of a merchant and generates a merchant ID. It can be used for instance issuance of Merchant ID and QR code to make a merchant live in minutes. For an issuer, they can either include it inside their merchant facing app as DIY or can be a guided process supported by their feet-on-the-street workforce.

Also, Signzy’s AML/CFT offerings for its customers will help banks and PPIs in the wake of the recent regulatory changes tightening the KYC norms. Today, many of the prominent banks, mobile wallets, and payment gateways are using Signzy’s innovative solutions to retain and acquire new merchants while maintaining efficient business margins.

Remember, you should acquire merchants when it means to the business and not when the business has the means.