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DIFC and Mashreq Bank launch instant bank account opening

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Mashreq Bank have announced the region’s first blockchain data sharing platform, now live in production, to support licensed businesses and corporates opening digital bank accounts instantly.

In continuation of the consortium formed back in July 2019 between DIFC and Mashreq Bank, the initiative known as Know Your Customer (KYC), along with the DIFC incubated fintech firm norbloc, was unveiled as a market-first in the Middle East. DIFC and Mashreq took a strategic decision to harness this technology by focusing on a specific use case to enhance both the quality and integrity of corporate KYC information as well as quality of customer experience when opening a bank account.

The platform is now live and available to all UAE-based corporates and banks. DIFC and Mashreq have announced the region-first live connection, built on the same chosen platform, norbloc Fides.

Growing from an initial proof of concept to confirm the possibility of using blockchain technology, the KYC platform is now ready and open to all licensing authorities and financial institutions in UAE to join DIFC and Mashreq Bank’s live blockchain experience for full-scale adoption under a unified nationwide umbrella. The platform is designed to make it easier and faster for new companies to do business in the UAE, removing existing paper-based KYC processes.

DIFC prepares the KYC record during the corporate license application and is shared electronically via blockchain with Mashreq, with customer consent, simplifying the process of opening a bank account. This single KYC solution for corporate entities is a scalable ecosystem solution, available to all qualified financial institutions/licensing authorities and supports connectivity with other similar initiatives.

To ensure seamless connectivity between the two organisations, DIFC and Mashreq collaborated to define the business and operating framework, technical architecture, customer data protection schedules, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan and set-up the blockchain connectivity. Norbloc provided the blockchain platform (Fides), Gowling WLG assisted in drafting the legal agreements, while Deloitte supported Mashreq Bank with the overall governance and programme management.

Based on the experience from the production implementation, DIFC and Mashreq have also conceptualised a consortium framework covering key tenets required for large-scale adoption by other participants joining the ecosystem. Aspects around consortium governance (ownership structure, oversight, decision making process), business model (participation criteria, commercial model) and operating model (technical considerations, operating guidelines, change management, data confidentiality, dispute management, liabilities and indemnities, for example) are defined and ready for ecosystem scale up.


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