Asia is open for business: APAC’s unique KYB, UBO and KYC challenges

Ebooks , Education

Major Asian cities collage

The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region is a significant contributor to the world’s economy, responsible for over 70% of global GDP growth in the decade leading up to 2023. This momentum is expected to continue, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projecting APAC to drive two-thirds of global economic expansion in 2024. [1]

Home to dynamic economies and the most populous nations on the planet, APAC offers a wealth of unique opportunities for businesses looking to expand internationally. However, the very diversity that makes this region so appealing also introduces unique challenges.
Global organisations aiming to expand into APAC markets must conduct comprehensive verification in all new commercial engagements – whether they’re vetting potential business partners, merchants, clients or customers. This article outlines essential considerations for establishing a robust Know Your Business (KYB), Ultimate Beneficial Ownership (UBO) and Know Your Customer (KYC) framework that is well-suited to the APAC market.

Unpacking the key challenges

A diverse business ecosystem

Asia is home to a broad range of businesses, from large multinational corporations to small startups, with a level of organisational maturity that varies widely across the region.

In the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), for example, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) dominate the market, accounting for over 97% of all businesses and providing around 85% of the employment.[2] Conversely, China and Japan feature some of the world’s largest corporations, especially in the technology, finance and automotive sectors.

In such a multifaceted landscape, companies need flexible and scalable KYB, UBO and KYC processes that accommodate the vast differences in business sizes and types. Adding to the challenge is the complexity of many ownership structures in the region, which can make the onboarding process more difficult and costly for new business partners, merchants and customers.

Rapid economic growth

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, is emerging as a significant economic force in the region. Factors that make ASEAN markets increasingly attractive to new business ventures include the burgeoning middle class, strategic geographic positioning and active investment in their physical and digital infrastructures.[3]
However, firms need to be aware that economic expansion can attract not only legitimate businesses but also illicit activities, including money laundering and terrorist financing. This elevates the importance of conducting thorough KYB and UBO checks to identify and mitigate the risks associated with potentially hidden beneficial owners or complex corporate structures designed to obscure ownership.

Linguistic hurdles

With thousands of different languages spoken across the APAC region, many with their own distinct writing systems, companies need to build a sound translation strategy into their KYB, UBO and KYC programmes.
Businesses lacking the necessary tools to accurately translate and fully comprehend all the involved business, legal and personal information risk breaching AML (Anti-Money Laundering) and CFT (Counter Financing of Terrorism) regulations. Translation missteps or misunderstandings can result in flawed risk assessments, potentially missing crucial red flags or compliance problems.

Fragmented regulatory ecosystem

Unlike Europe, where regulatory frameworks are more harmonised, Asia presents a patchwork of vastly different legal systems and levels of economic development. Understanding the UBO structure of a business, for instance, can be particularly challenging when it involves entities spread across multiple jurisdictions with varying disclosure requirements. This requires in-depth local expertise and can significantly inflate the costs tied to compliance measures.

Addressing these issues with technology

Technology has advanced to the point where it has become a highly valuable tool in the fight against financial crime, even in the most complex business landscapes. Organisations have access to innovative RegTech solutions that are designed to support their AML/CFT programmes with a range of capabilities.

For firms concentrating on APAC markets, selecting a technology solution specifically designed for this unique region is advisable. The right technology solution can elevate key KYB, UBO and KYC processes and mitigate risk through improved data accessibility and coverage, as well as greater accuracy. 

One such option is AsiaVerify, a RegTech platform that allows global organisations to verify, onboard and monitor APAC business partners, customers and beneficial owners in real-time. Using the following capabilities, firms can streamline and enhance their KYB and KYC processes, ensuring a thorough understanding of organisations’ corporate and UBO structures.

Why AsiaVerify?

  • Offers a unique combination of best-in-class business verification technology and exclusive access to authoritative sources across APAC.
  • Provides access to fully translated, authenticated and connected company checks.
  • Delivers insights on 344 million entities and 2.9 billion individuals across 12 APAC jurisdictions.
  • Uses advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) technology for efficient document translation.
  • Ensures robust audit trails that link translated text back to the source material for verifiable KYC data.
  • Facilitates real-time data extraction for accurate identification of corporate structures and Ultimate Beneficial Owners (UBO).
  • Offers predictive insights based on historical data patterns of entities.

Discover how AsiaVerify can help your business overcome compliance and regulatory hurdles in the APAC market as you establish or grow your presence in the region.

If you are interested in seeing a demo, book a call with our experts today!


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