Idan Levy, co-founder, and CEO at ADVANSCREEN tells us about KYC screening.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Idan Levy: We are generally good. These are indeed some challenging times… We are currently still on lockdown in Israel, and we hope to see the end of it soon.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded ADVANSCREEN.
Idan Levy: I am 43 years old, an Israeli lawyer with over 15 years of experience in finance & banking (LL.M, LL.B). In the past decade, I have been working in the banking sector as a senior compliance manager (Leumi Bank, HSBC), handling financial crimes compliance as well as regulatory compliance affairs. After leaving HSBC, I established MITIGATE Compliance & risk management ltd, which is an Israeli compliance consultancy firm, serving today some of the top names in the Israeli financial sector. In addition, I am also training compliance officers together with BDO Israel in our joint Compliance Officer Training Program (in Hebrew), the only one of its kind in Israel.
The idea to build Advanscreen first began when I was working in banks, using the other complicated screening tools. There is a real problem in the market when it comes to sanctioning screening tools: all of the players are focused on the financial services sector, which employs professional compliance staff, but there is no solution for the majority of the market – literally millions of businesses worldwide that are legally required to screen but have non trained staff and fewer resources. We saw that the US treasury – in its unprecedented fine of over 1.3 billion dollars in 2019 – fined companies like EXPEDIA, BLACK&DECKER, and PACCAR – all of which are companies outside the financial services sector. We thought: if banks are struggling for years with these duties– when they have most of the knowledge and trained staff – and still receiving fines, than what are all the small and medium businesses expected to do?
How does ADVANSCREEN innovate?
Idan Levy: After almost 25 years, we bring a fresh approach to sanction screening and illegal engagements, with AI technology that takes the untrained employee’ hand in hand’ until a successful resolution on that material Go/No GO question – Can I do business with this person?
So while our competitors answer a screening question with another question, we use AI technology to provide you with real-time educated answers. And when they charge yearly subscription fees – our Pay as you go plans enable you to pay only for what you need. We are packed with unique compliance features, user-centric, easy to join, simple to use and designed to help any person or company – from any sector, size or knowledge level – comply with the increasing regulatory pressure in clarity and ease.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Idan Levy: Advanscreen is one of those businesses that protect other businesses from illegal engagements, including those that originate from Money laundering and Terrorist financing. We basically allow the non-trained client to get a clear Go/No Go to answer to whether they can engage with a particular supplier/buyer on not. I think that the recent rise that we have seen in fraudulent activities and scams will increase the need of businesses to know whom they are doing business with and use our services. In addition, SME’s and professionals will look for simple and more cost-effective ways to meet the regulatory requirements and avoid illegal engagements.
Is sanction screening and KYC are the same?
Idan Levy: Well, not exactly. KYC (Know your Client) is used as an umbrella term to describe a list of checks for risk classification purposes. However, if we zoom in, we’ll find Sanction screening to stand out as the only mandatory procedure that’s required from almost any business before onboarding new clients, suppliers and employees. In fact, Sanction screening as unique as a Go/No Go procedure that precedes all other KYC routines, and for most businesses – stands on its own. You can say that sanction screening is the beating heart of the KYC routines; if your supplier is sanctioned, then there is no point in running him through an expensive KYC process anyway.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Idan Levy: No, unfortunately, we were not entitled to such grants according to the Israeli criteria.