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Identity Interview - Pascal Nizri





Pascal Nizri
CEO and Founder
Chekk




1. How close are we to being able to access digital information about identity in a consumable and trusted way, across industries?
The philosophical debate about identity and personal data ownership isn't new. It has been going on for decades and usually most people agree that these should be owned by individuals. However, and despite the clear concerns they have and the lack of trust in how businesses use their data (eg., over 90% adults believe they have completely lost control over their personal data), the majority of consumers aren't yet really doing anything about it. But there are other driving forces at play, in the form of regulation and business imperatives, especially in the financial institutions world. And with the ever increasing need and costs to capture more exhaustive and stringent customer due diligence, both at on-boarding and regular refreshes (to prevent Money-Laundering, sanctions evasion, tax evasion, fraud...), there is now a tipping point for banks to support, and in some cases lead, the shift of personal data ownership from businesses to individuals to the benefits of both. And I believe that these regulatory and business imperatives are the reasons why we are now very close to being able to have a trusted digital identity.

2. Which technologies should organisations be looking into, to support their identity and KYC processes?
Digital Identity encompasses different aspects such as authentication, access, personal data management, attribute sharing and verification, etc. Businesses across the world are now looking to build, acquire, buy or partner with different solutions to fulfill these multiple needs and capabilities. Many established technology players and new startups are now looking to provide new solutions to answer that need in many different ways. But I believe that the successful model will need to rely on the ownership of data by consumers and that such paradigm shift can only be achieved via a digital identity framework in which consumers are empowered to own, manage, contextualized and share their personal data with businesses across industries, which in turn enables these businesses to access these data in a respectful and future proof way, improve customer experience, lower costs and increase business opportunities. This is why on the side of my international banking career, I have founded Chekk (www.chekk.me) over the last couple years, a startup which provides a secure digital identity platform to help consumers and businesses to hold, manage, share and access identity and personal data, and interact between each others in this new world.

3. Is the blockchain a complete solution for improved identity verification, or just part of a wider solution?
There is of course a lot of potential but also a lot of hype about the blockchain technology these days, which, beyond the bitcoin currency and distributed ledger, is now considered by many as a silver bullet for everything. I am not sure it is necessary an answer to all needs in itself but I do believe that it has an important part to play in the digital identity framework and solutions, for instance for security, distribution, verification and integrity of personal data. Which is why at Chekk, we are exploring how to leverage this technology as part of our digital identity solutions this year.

4. How can institutions ensure a user-friendly and compliant KYC and onboarding process?
I understand why consumers find the Know Your Customers journeys of many financial institutions complex and not always user-friendly, both at on-boarding and for the periodic refreshes which are required. Especially as they don't always know or understand the need for it and the associated regulatory requirements. I believe though that there are ways to make customer due diligence less painful for consumers, but also much more useful to them. Indeed, the number and type of data, as well as when and how they are requested in the journey, can often be optimized to improve the customer experience. In addition, at Chekk we believe it is key for consumers to be able to use and reuse their identity and personal data across companies and industries to enable the best user journeys and maximize the value for individuals.

5. What are the challenges and benefits of putting in place a 'financial services passport'?
Collaboration across companies is sometimes difficult, especially when its about customer data and interaction. However, financial institutions are much more open to collaborate than before and are today even sometimes willing to create common utilities to outsource or share things that are not at the core of their differentiation. The benefits for them is to enable a new shared digital identity to improve customer experience, which in recent years has suffered from more stringent customer due diligence requirements and more bloated on-boarding journeys, but also to have more exhaustive and accurate customer data on-going to support new business opportunities. To do so, banks must though overcome many other challenges such as data security, regulation, lack of common standards, etc. and will need to partner together and with new players to achieve the best possible outcome, not only for themselves but also for their customers.

6. Why will you be joining the Identity & KYC conference, and what do you hope to get out of the event?
I am joining the Identity & KYC conference as the Founder and CEO of Chekk, a FinTech startup providing digital identity solutions for financial institutions and their customers, especially to support KYC and customer due diligence activities. So obviously, beyond the many interesting presentations and panels, for me this conference is exactly in the sweet spot of what we are working on and believe we can collaborate on with the banks and other startups, many of which I am looking forward to meet and discuss with.