PassFort – Planet Compliance RegTech Interview (2021)

Let start with a brief introduction, what can you tell us about PassFort and your RegTech offering?  

PassFort was founded by Henry Irish and me, Donald Gillies, in 2015. We are on a mission to improve the way businesses and customers establish trust in regulated markets. Essentially, we provide a compliance platform for our clients that provides them with a single customer view across all compliance, financial crime and risk assessment workflows. They use PassFort to configure, manage, and evolve their digital customer onboarding and risk management processes easily – as easily as you do within a sales and marketing CRM.

PassFort has now supported clients to onboard more than 5.5million of their customers worldwide. We provide SaaS solutions to manage compliance and financial crime across every customer lifecycle. The platform is used by regulated firms, financial services and compliance professionals across the world.

Our flexible solution can be used to digitally transform KYC, KYB and AML processes for any product in any jurisdiction for any client base. Integrated with leading data providers, clients have access to robust and accurate data to complete due diligence and establish trust. And, compliance teams have a secure space to collaborate on tasks, escalate cases for enhanced due diligence, and communicate directly with customers.

What are some of the biggest challenges your solutions solve for clients?

Financial services businesses have bespoke and complex KYC and AML compliance processes they need to follow. Many solutions simply aren’t configurable enough to meet these unique requirements. Or if they are implemented to meet these complex needs, they are then expensive and difficult to update when regulations change or the company launches a new product.

PassFort has a flexible Smart Policy engine sitting at its core. We ensure customers can configure the customer Journeys and due diligence workflows that are right for their business today – taking into account unique  products; customers; and jurisdictions from day one – then, crucially, helping them analyse and improve their processes of tomorrow.

Many customers are on a journey of understanding what the right digital compliance process looks like for their business. With a flexible solution, they can learn what works, what could be better, where the efficiencies or savings might lie and optimise their process in the same way they would their sales & marketing funnel.

It’s not difficult or expensive to change their configuration, because of our Smart Policy Builder. We expect our customers to make changes. We suggest changes to our customers in quarterly reviews. We want them to keep improving their version of PassFort, because then they’ll continue to improve.

PassFort customers make, on average, 8 changes to their configuration of the platform each quarter. These changes can include anything from a small refinement on a form to integrating a new data provider to save time and money on a particular KYC check.

Change is hugely important in compliance and compliance solutions because clients need to adjust to new risks, new regulation and launch new products. There are also new technologies and providers continuously coming to market. They need to be sure their compliance platform can change with their business.

Could you give us a use case of why a client came to you and how they are using your solution to solve their particular challenge? 

A leading card company, with ambitious global growth plans, needed to manage complex onboarding workflows in multiple jurisdictions. They wanted to marry best in class KYC and AML automation with the ability to scale and grow operations quickly, while also controlling the cost of compliance.

Working with PassFort, our client was able to create their own bespoke, flexible and streamlined onboarding flow, which automates KYC and AML checks to maximise straight through processing (STP) of new applications.

Our client was then able to increase by 33% the number of applications their team was able to improve and guarantee a 48hr response time for non-automated customers going through the application process. This was achieved without having to introduce more technology or increase the number of people working in its compliance function, thereby controlling cost.

PassFort’s global coverage, the need for minimal development resource to make changes to processes, full case management capability, and flexible, automated workflows meant PassFort won out with the customer.

How would you describe the differences between your offering from others in your RegTech category?

PassFort is a unique solution in several ways.

Our Smart Policy builder, which is constructed around a central risk engine, means customers can create their own workflow of due diligence checks. They aren’t limited to mapping and managing a linear journey;  customers can take their compliance workflow down different paths, add different checks, and change the process when they need to.

Also, our full case management solution makes it easy for compliance teams to work together. Everyone in the team understands their responsibilities, they can track where customers are in a journey, and they can escalate cases when necessary. This means smooth onboarding journeys and fewer drop offs along the way – even for complex and manual cases.

Many of our customers have really complex onboarding journeys to work through – corporate onboarding, with beneficial owners to trace. The focus of their configuration is not driving efficiency solely using automation of checks; efficiency is achieved by offering tools to streamline the interactions between teams internally and how information is collected from customers.

What advice would you give to decision makers when choosing a RegTech solution such as the ones your offer?

I would always recommend choosing a solution that you know can grow and evolve with your business. It’s so important to get the right RegTech solution for the challenges you need to solve now – efficiency, cost control, etc., – but also to think about the RegTech solution you might need in 5- or 10-years’ time – one that’s flexible and can scale with your business.

So many of the people we speak to each day are faced with solutions that are difficult or expensive to change. The cost or availability of technical resources to integrate the solution with other platforms in their ecosystem, or to make a configuration change just makes it nearly impossible to achieve. PassFort is fundamentally different in this regard and offers teams and leaders a new way to work.

Due to the global pandemic a lot has changed in the world in the last year. How has your company changed in the in the last 12 months?

Like most other businesses, we went completely homebased and have stayed that way for the last 12months. Though good news has been thin on the ground, we consider ourselves to have been very lucky. No employee got really sick and we’ve been able to grow.

We are a fully cloud-enabled business, so both our product and our people were able to go remote instantly, without a hitch. It’s also been great to strengthen relationships across the ecosystem with new partnerships and clients. Some of the barriers to business have been broken down – it’s definitely an icebreaker when you meet someone in their kitchen or bedroom with their kids, dogs etc in the background!

We have seen a real up-surge in the number of digital payment providers, crypto wallets, forex and asset traders, as well as other types of fintech choosing our solution for their compliance requirements. Some of the conversations were accelerated by the pandemic, but many firms were on a path to digital transformation anyway, or, like us, they were cloud-based anyway.

Finally, it was great to launch PassFort Connect last year, this is a solution for integration of data providers. It’s targeted at those smaller, start-up institutions who aren’t ready for full customer lifecycle management. These firms can simply get the best data for their due diligence activity channelled through our single API.

Can you tell us about some of your most recent achievements or milestones you’ve reached?

We signed Curve as a new customer at the end of last year and that is something we are very proud of. PassFort was assessed on a buy vs. build criteria, as well as against other vendors. We were able to meet their complex KYB requirements and the team did a great job working with Curve.

Early this year, we also strengthened our data provider partnerships with GBG, Creditsafe and Refinitiv, which has been great. We know how important it is to get the best data for robust compliance processes, and being able to offer that to our clients through world-class partners is fantastic.

Personally, I’m also very proud of the team and all they have achieved from continuing to develop the platform to relaunching the website to forging new partnerships and winning new clients. They have done an awesome job in a difficult year and we’re excited for the future. 

What is drives you as company & what is PassFort’s long term vision?

What drives PassFort is our customers – we engineer our solution from our customers backwards. Understanding what the compliance and operational professionals we work with need to achieve is what we will go on to develop. It’s so important for us to work in partnership with our customers, because then we will always develop solutions they love and which are of value.

Longer term, we know there is huge value in our customers own data about their compliance processes. We are helping them access this data through reports in the platform, and the platform makes review and audit easier. Where we’re headed next is strengthening our customers’ ability to automatically perform remediation activity using insight from their customer data to inform and shape policy changes and versioning– that’s going to be an exciting development.

What are some of the important developments you are seeing in the RegTech industry?

I think a lot of the first wave of RegTech companies developed excellent point solutions solving specific problems within workflow (i.e. effective transaction monitoring, screening, document verification and the likes). The second wave of RegTech platforms is more about digitising the work, actions and skillset of operations, risk and compliance professionals. It’s about providing that orchestration layer that builds a single customer view and is a genuine platform to test ideas, manage teams and report on progress you are making. My vision for PassFort is that we become for Ops, Compliance and Risk professionals what Salesforce is for Sales & Marketing professionals.

How do I make better use of the talents & skill of the people in my team?

Start to consider automation of processes as a foundation layer – not the end state. Once you do this you open your mind to how to drive revenue, reduce costs and improve customer experience not through automation but by designing better human interactions. That’s a big part of where we add value for our clients. Yes, let’s give you best in class automation – but where are the “Wow” moments in complex processes? Why need beneficial ownership, policy changes, risk reviews or corporate onboarding be such problems? They shouldn’t be. Market leaders are embracing the opportunities to leverage human interactions in addition to automation – and that’s where PassFort helps them.

What’s the best way for potential clients or investors to get in touch with you?

We love to talk regtech, KYC, AML and all things compliance! If anyone wants to get in touch with us at PassFort they can do that via our website anytime!

Lavanya Rathnam

Lavanya Rathnam is an experienced technology, finance, and compliance writer. She combines her keen understanding of regulatory frameworks and industry best practices with exemplary writing skills to communicate complex concepts of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) in clear and accessible language. Lavanya specializes in creating informative and engaging content that educates and empowers readers to make informed decisions. She also works with different companies in the Web 3.0, blockchain, fintech, and EV industries to assess their products’ compliance with evolving regulations and standards.

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