In a time of ever quicker and significant shifts in the demands on professional accounting practices, one of the most important is the stunning growth in demand for client verification. This is now more than an offshoot of pandemic lockdowns, remote working, and the realisation that customers now have little difficulty working digitally, often at multiple levels.
As regulatory frameworks tighten globally, accountants face increased complex regulation and compliance requirements. That will expand, not contract, increasing professionals’ time and cost burden.
We’re already seeing what forecasters estimated - the global market for identity verification will grow by more than 20 per cent over the next few years. That means close to four billion digital identity verification checks will be conducted annually by 2026.
Accounting in the Digital Age
As an accounting industry, we have always faced the risk of information falling into the wrong hands. Regulatory bodies don’t recommend sending and receiving sensitive data and identity documentation or evidence by email. It’s no longer considered a secure means of transmission. And that is a new business reality.
A proactive response is to use a software platform built for the digital age like Annature, enabling businesses of all sizes to verify a user’s identity confidently, securely and quickly with an online secure platform. Freeing up bottlenecks, saving time with staff no longer needing to meet with clients face-to-face, and reducing risks generally associated with storing physical copies of identification evidence.
Annature provides an integrated digital signature, Identity (ID) verification, and payments platform built on blockchain technology, a complete ISO 27001 certified Digital Transaction Management solution.
Global Stripe Partnership
Annature has established a partnership with Stripe, one of the world’s most trusted and technologically advanced fintech brands. We have an integrated product with enhanced ID verification, an embedded payment process, and our multi-jurisdictional compliance and reporting capacity focus on Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance.
As a technology company, we found that we could easily embed their powerful ID and payment technology into our API-driven eSigning process by using Stripe’s well-documented platform. To provide a complete contract execution experience required by many fintech, insurance and other companies.
Our blockchain technology delivers a cryptographically verifiable database and audit trail, producing a tamper-proof digital certificate for critical compliance information and reliable and trustworthy evidence. Data from all users is stored onshore, with bank-grade security.
Margin Gains NZ Leads the Way
The trend for regulatory tax authorities is to ask practitioners to perform identity checks for all new clients, including representatives of new clients, the new representatives of existing clients and existing clients where you have concerns that the client may not be whom they say they are.
Precisely the kind of situation a new client experienced recently. The successful Auckland-based accounting firm Margin Gains needed to comply with the New Zealand legislation regarding AML and KYC requirements.
Margin Gains had previously used a multi-national provider to help them migrate clients to the cloud but gave up in despair - having achieved only a 20 per cent success rate, mainly because their clients were receiving emails demanding ID proof from a completely unknown third-party bulk emailer.
Innovating eSigning & ID verification
Annature enhanced its architecture, completed the task, and migrated 3,500 of its clients to eSigning in six weeks. Our next job was to perform ID verifications on another 1,000 clients. All contact with their customers was via a white-labelled Annature platform – keeping the Margin Gains branding in front of their customers - who knew exactly who had sent the request and why they should respond.
We were able to integrate with their systems easily. To oversee authentication, remote identity proofing, cloud security and data security. A cloud-based system with multi-factor authentication, audit and tracking, encryption and data storage, and an accessible logged audit history allows accountants to get on with what they do best.
Annature is unique because we integrate the execution of agreements and the client verification process into one transaction. The real benefits come when you use eSigning and ID verification simultaneously.
As an accountant, you typically require a signature on an engagement letter and an authority to act when engaging a new client, and that’s when you want to conduct the ID verification steps. It makes sense to do both at once. The time savings are enormous, and the client experience is improved because they only need to activate one process, not one today and another one tomorrow.
The paradigm shift towards paperless transactions and digital transformation for a wide range of commercial and legal documents now comes at a cost within easy reach of even the smallest practices. But be careful about some of the existing tools in the marketplace, which can cost you anywhere from $15 up to $40 per client verification.
We see Annature as the one-stop shop for meeting Proof of Identity requirements in the accounting industry. We already integrate with leading practice management software such as APS, GreatSoft and MYOB to share a single transparent view of client verification status, all stemming from Annature as the source of truth.
So, if you are not identifying your clients, now is the time to begin. It is also an opportunity to clean up your database to ensure that your client’s information is accurate across multiple platforms.
They’ll thank you for it. And you’ll thank yourself every time you access it.