FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.10-Sep 21): A Regtech-based Blockchain KYC Solution for Document Custody with Brice Penaud, CEO Commercial Passport

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NCFA Canada | Sep 21, 2018

Ep10-Sep 21: A Regtech-based Blockchain KYC Solution for Document Custody

About this episode: On this episode, our host Manseeb Khan sits down with the CEO of Commercial Passport Brice Penaud. They chat about what KYC looks like in blockchain, how fintech and regtech can work alongside with governments, and the benefits of creating a digital identity. Enjoy!

Host: Manseeb Khan, NCFA, Fintech Fridays show host

Guest: Brice Penaud, CEO, Commercial Passport

Bio: Commercial Passport provides global digital KYC solutions, helping financial institutions reduce the time to on-board clients by automating beneficial ownership analysis and client document maintenance. Based in Toronto, Canada, Commercial Passport’s Universal KYC Solution is a paradigm shift in KYC collection, providing senders and receivers a clear chain of custody for KYC documents through blockchain technology.

 

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Transcription of Interview

Manseeb Khan: Hey Everybody how are you doing today Manseeb Khan here . And you tuning in to Fintech Friday's today. I have. OK. I know I see this every episode. But I do have a really incredible guest today.

Manseeb Khan: I have Brice Penaud from Commercial Passport and Bryce pretty much is on the forefront of all the regulation tech. And all of the blockchain KYC that are going to be what are going to be hopefully implemented in the next 18 to 24 months that are going to help either investors or aspiring investors. Brice Thank you so much for sitting down with me today, I know you are super busy. This means the world to me.

Brice Penaud: Thank you so much for inviting me I'm happy to be here and help or share what I understand about the industry and where I think it's going and what people should expect to be doing and what the future kind of looks like for the space.

Manseeb Khan: So, could you I guess for the audience. Tell us a little bit about who you are and essentially what commercial passport is.

Brice Penaud: Sure. So, I'll start with who I am. So, my name is Brice. The company is called commercial passport and are like what you might guess by the actual name. The idea behind our business is that entities and companies should have a passport just like an individual. That's right. The difference is that it's a commercial passport it's a digital I.D. identity that basically verifies you our as a business. So, there is sort of different categories of KYC or KYB some are you know your customer, and some are not your business were obviously sort of more focused on the complex legal entities that need this IP and so that can be a mutual fund. If the sovereign funds it could be hedge funds from banks know wealth management arms so on and so forth. Anywhere where there is are even offshore component or sort of a complex environment that sort of who we're looking to help the most those people who have you know very complex ownership structures where there is an identified need for analyzing all those relationships and then which documents you need for which people based on the jurisdiction that you're in. So that is essentially the problem that we're tackling.

Manseeb Khan: You could you just touch base a little bit more of why is focusing on regulation like regulatory tech. So crucial for businesses like be it in just the regular fintech space or even if they are in the blockchain space why is either understanding regulatory tech and looking into regulatory tech why is it important?

Brice Penaud: Well I guess you have two ways of thinking about it. One is sort of like the legal legislative regulatory jurisdictional perspective which is mostly about staying in compliance and you know not getting slapped with fines or fees or getting caught doing something you're not supposed to be doing. So, from that perspective it's more about avoiding pain than anything else. But then the other perceptiveness about being I guess it’s OK forward thinking or forward minded or futuristic. And that is sort of hopefully what we want to inspire and the people that we work with. It's not just the fact that you know we're thinking about solving these you know problems that are regulatory based that are becoming more and more complex for sort of each line of business that you might associate KYC with for example you know typically it was only for you know large corporates who had all the sort of complex stuff that they need to submit. But now you have you know things of real estate that are coming out and insurance in the medical world this is slowly coming up as well. So, you have this creeping sort of KYC expansion that's reaching and touching these other industries that weren't necessarily always affected by it. Now we see that now with ICOs and sort of other sort of token offerings. So, with that happening we want people to think about OK how do we solve this in a way that's kind of frictionless in a way where we do some work up front to create this digital identity. This commercial passport. And then from there you're now being able to use that interchangeably with sort of a whole host of different businesses who you might do business with. And I think that's what we want people to sort of be aware of is not just reducing the pain but actually being proactive about what it means to work with other people so that you're not stuck in this world of Excel spreadsheets and PDF's and e-mails and sending faxing paperwork you know back and forth with just that that happens.

Manseeb Khan: I totally agree with that you don't want to be stuck in that little purgatory of Excel sheets and e-mails right just not just time and energy that's getting wasted and not being put into business to make you as incredible as you aim to be right.

Brice Penaud: So while it also prevents you from being productive in your job right if you're absolutely out doing all this paperwork you're now focused on oh what do we need right now and let's not get caught being behind on work versus we have what we need let's be proactive about how do we manage our relationship with our clients and also how do we seem modern ourselves. Right. You know how do you feel if someone's managing a fund of let's say you know 10 billion dollars and they're still asking you to fax stuff over it doesn't really seem like current does it. You know like you have some of the best traders in the world or whatever who are executing some and incredible investments on their behalf using all kinds of you know you are a crypto slash you know algorithmic analysis of different things that seems quite a quite cool and high tech but how does that sort of relationship juxtapose itself to you know saying hey the media that some this documentary or PDF or an email or your fax right that seems kind of a mismatch.

Manseeb Khan: Yes. It's not is not as efficient and fast pace as it really should be and that's the whole purpose of being in financial tech and being in the block chain space is like hey we want to be as we want to move in microseconds when it comes to these things.

Brice Penaud: Exactly.

Manseeb Khan: What does blockchain KYC look like?

Brice Penaud: So, I guess there's a couple different ways of thinking about it but for us we're using just the business application of blockchain. So, we're not necessarily creating any kind of you know new currency or anything like that and we're not necessarily taking people's ideas and putting them on the blockchain. where we're doing essentially is gathering the necessary documents for you know all of the due diligence or the compliance checks that people might have. Instead of publishing these ideas on the watch and what we're doing is we're publishing a hash of these documents so that there is a ledger as a chain of custody of all these documents somewhere that says hey isn't these documents have integrity they haven't been changed they haven't been altered. They're real they're the ones that have been submitted by clients. So, on and so forth so that when you have this sort of proof of sort of kind of like you would like track changes in Microsoft right it's kind of like the same idea. The difference is that here as you know that nothing has been changed be published. And even though the Hash presented documents no one has no access to the actual document itself. so, no one can reverse engineer what that document looks like. This is obviously quite sensitive as you let know personal and sensitive data. So that's kind of how we see KYC fitting with blockchain. We don't necessarily see it as you know you need to take people's ID and distribute them across the ledger. We don't necessarily think that that's the safest thing to do. But what is safe for us to sort of keep a track record of all these super sensitive documents that people want to make sure are valid and they're legal and they've been certified properly.

Manseeb Khan: So, some of the challenges that KYC may face I'm going to try to break this down is as detailed as I can. Sounds good. Yeah as the disparity of specification. Right. So, every bank has their own specifications that they adhere to. Some of them also might be stringent regulations by regulation. Rules are often changed they're often even added more. The compliance burdens on banks and the adverse impact to relationships with customers because banks is constantly have to keep hitting up the exact same customers even though they have the information. Again, it comes on the faxing right like a fax to one bank, but this other bank wants it. But OK. Right. Right. It just it just gets so troublesome and you just get and just get really angry. On top of that it starts escalating costs right. I mean like Reuters even talked about how like onboarding a KYC can increase your costs to go up above 18 percent. Right. And it takes a minimum of like 26 days to completely onboard a customer. How do you see commercial passport tackling these problems?

Brice Penaud: Well whether it's our company or another company I think that what you want to get access to is documents are being updated in real time that are also either changed or sort of you know Evolved with the regulation. So, like you mentioned if things change right. Because we know that all these new laws come out every year that sort of change the gathering or of a certain specification of these requirements. So, whether it's our company or someone else's that you know these financial institutions work with what they what they should want is to make sure that whenever someone says something they can send it in real time that can be updated that can be changed. And another way of thinking about this is if you know documents going to expire for example you won't be able to know that AND track that. And that sort of helps you stay ahead a little bit of the sort of regulation you know nightmare and the other piece too is you know kind of lobbying some of the you know bodies that sort of decide on these legislative matters. Right. Is giving them also the best information that fintech companies have because they actually deal with this on a day to day basis and giving them the information so they make you know informed decisions about what it means to have great data that is actually helpful to both you know the people who are supposed to be overseeing these financial institutions but also for them and for their clients.

Brice Penaud: So, what you really want is the synergy between you know the government and the fintech companies and the large institutions that are sort of now somewhat being sought after in terms of being you know compliant and you know being you know sort of responsible with the way that they're gathering information. So, I think whoever it is that is doing this needs to keep that in mind throughout the entire time. So for us obviously that's one of our key priorities and why we see the future for KYC of being you know in one sort of central location that has real time changes and updates that are going to be complaint with these banks don't get in trouble so that these financial institutions have exactly what they need without having to do this paper based chasing.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah. And to make sure I like we dot our p's and q's to make sure that everything is adds up.

Brice Penaud: Absolutely that that's exactly right. I think most people will subscribe to that idea but it's harder to implement in real life right and that also has to make a mental shift in their mind and say OK we understand it we've been doing it this way for 50 years and whether it's through fax or e-mail or PDF sharing or order or courier or whatever it might be. So, it means that whoever is you know leading inside these institutions they have to be willing to make a decision to say we understand that this process is outdated and it's not really going to be fit for purpose anymore. And so, if they want to you know be a leader is in that sense. I think they have to come to terms with the idea that no solutions are available out there we're not the only company doing that. But in either case, I think that there has to be a sort of a wave of a recognition that this change is coming and that these digital solutions are going to be a part of the future. And you know that's led both within the people who are you know innovative inside these institutions but also know from people in government we need to recognize it as a solution. It's better for everyone involved. So, there's sort of you know multiple layers of complexity of you know making this sort of happen. But it is going to come one way or any other and I think it's better to be sort of prepared and proactive about it then just wait and let it take you by storm when it's kind of too late and you suddenly have to do all these changes and be kind of unprepared for it.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah no I absolutely agree. I think if we start educating some of the lobbers and make them understand like hey this is the new tech that's coming in without like all the flash and bling. This is exactly what it does. This is why implementing companies like commercial passport and other KYC companies like us.  It's going to help just move faster and we're smoother I'm just going to be so much more ease of use. Right. I mean I don't like everybody knows the joke that like government officials and government workers are overworked already. Let's just try to make the jobs that are easier. So, we have to start moving and things a lot smoother.

Brice Penaud: That's exactly right. I mean and part of that you know helping people do that is having you know a digital version of things that's available to for example auditors. Right. I mean I don't know who really wants to sit through you know hours of paperwork and scan documents so on and so forth. You know people have this sort of no digital I.D. or version of a digital passport. Then you have something that actually people can look at in a currently you know I guess it's a speedy way to say hey this you know checks of all the compliance things that you know you know financial institutions are supposed to be doing. So, you're out. You're also helping. You know one hand kind of leads the other all the way up down the value chain of you know the KYC world. I think part of that needs to be taken into consideration. While the lobbying happens right. While the advocacy of this change happens is that this isn't just for the institutions or just for the fintech companies but it's also for the people who are supposed to be overseeing the process.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah, I love the how one had feed the other I know we touch this a little bit prior so some of the caveats of having KYC's in blockchain is having trusting parties right the trust factor that's built in block chain. It's very crucial to have to make sure OK how do we verify these trusting parties. what are the checks of the check off on the checklist to make sure hey this is up this is Manseeb's bank. This is. I meet all the regulations cool, you can move money and move crypto through me. dealing with the nature of blocking itself right, we have to decide OK we'll block chain be private will be public would it be a hybrid and just tracking variabilities right. So, which changes a lot. Right. So, investors and like people that have stake under 25 percent in a client’s company that's very hard to track, because it's such an it's such a minuscule amount. Right. It's like. So again, how do you how do you see commercial passport tackling this problem.

Brice Penaud: Well whether again whether it's us or another company that does things similar to us part of it is building tech that can help map what you just described out so you know mapping out you know who owns the interest and you know all those key things that you need to know to make sure that you're gathering the right documents from all the different entities or individuals. But the other key is that you get from about you know all the you know how is this trusted and how does that function within the greater scope of the longevity of the idea. And I think part of that is making sure that you're choosing you know a ledger or block chain that essentially you know is going to be around for a while. Right. There’re different ways of thinking about that but for us it's pretty obvious that you know Bitcoin ledger the public ledger makes more sense for now. It's the one that's been used it's one of the ones that has been you know sort of surpassed in terms of security flaws that it may have but even the application of that isn't necessarily to just secure a document it's more to secure the variability of what you said a change in the document. So even from that perspective we're safeguarding you know the documents and just publishing a hash of those documents. So, if you're thinking about how you know trust is built in part of it is how you're using the technology. It's not just using blockchain and the idea that oh well it's pretty secure right because it's decentralized. You can't just be thinking about it from those simple terms that have to also be OK but how does it specifically you know benefit us and our customers. Why do they get a benefit from us? Oh well they get a benefit. Because we understand that they can work at any of their documents being you know changed or signed or sent over to anyone without having to expose any real you know sensitive data. So, I think that's the way that we think about.

Manseeb Khan: Do you have any questions you want to you want to throw in or they've come up with on the the way?

Brice Penaud: Well sure. I mean I think that there are more questions for the greater community. You know people who are in regtech or fintech or the KYC side. which is you know if you are an innovator in this space and you're trying to help financial institutions are seeing the light and you know some of these changes that are coming I think part of it has to do with asking yourself how do I make sure that people who are going to be using these kinds of services or products from a fintech perspective how do we make sure we serve them in the best way possible but that fits current regulation. And there's some really interesting companies are doing great things out there. I'll mention one from the U.K. called Cube for example where they gather all the regulatory changes that happen every day and they have an ability to sort of source and track all these different jurisdictional changes. And so, if you're a company that's in that space. you need to be thinking about how to create partnerships with those kinds of businesses because not one company can do it all. So, a lot of that has to do with integrating and partnering to make sure that when this innovation does happen we have at least sort of cohort of solutions can coexist with each other right.

Brice Penaud: So, for example I think in the early days of Salesforce didn't necessarily do everything. But now the Salesforce exchange where no other parties can come in and help build top of what they do. And I think that that's essentially what's going to happen with the KYC space I think will be a couple big players who will of Win the sort of core of what KYC, you know automation in happens for you know from the digital perspective. But then there will be other people who come in and sort of build off that. And so, I think that the way to do that is to think about how do we best serve the people who are going to be using it and how do we best serve people. We need to follow those kinds of laws so that's just one question that poses you know how people think about that and how to focus to make sure that you're serving all the parties that are involved.

Manseeb Khan: It was mentioned a couple of episodes back but this whole thing is just it's a grand experimentation right. we're just testing and we're learning and we're failing and we're saying OK what works what doesn't work. OK what if we service our customers this way with this. OK. OK. Kind of sort of we did. Eighty percent. OK. Well I was going to get some next 20. How do we automate a couple spaces here? And we know it is an educational factor that we are throwing in. It's all we're all just like playing with the clay and hopefully molds into something.

Brice Penaud: That's exactly right. That's exactly right.

Manseeb Khan: Thank you so much for sitting down with me today. I definitely learned a lot more about KYC than I did 12 hours ago. so, thank you so much for sitting down with me today, very much educational and I'm very excited to see the journey that commercial password is going to embark on and all the other KYC companies

Brice Penaud: Thank you I really appreciate you having me on the show. And if anyone wants to reach out to me they can if I can be of help in any way and whether it's competitors whether it's institutions or people who just want to know a little bit more about the space and I'm happy to help.

Manseeb Khan: Awesome. What would be the best way to contact you would be through Twitter with snapchat you.

Brice Penaud: Yeah, I'm just I'm just on LinkedIn. It's just Brice Penaud. B.R.I.C.E , P.E.N.A.U.D and that's the easiest way to get me.

Manseeb Khan: Ok awesome. Brice Thank you so much again for sitting down with me. I cannot wait to have you on the show again.

Brice Penaud: Thanks so much for inviting me. And hello to all the listeners out there.

End of Podcast

 

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