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Updated 22 August 2018 – Originally Published on Small Business – 21 August 2018
We launched our technology in May 2017 to provide a simple, quick and secure way of verifying someone’s identity using real-time facial recognition technology.
While it was tempting for us to go after every market that required our solution, we identified one fundamental gap within the property market.
In June 2017, it became a legal requirement for estate agents to verify the identity of both the seller and buyer in a property transaction, as part of the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Fourth Directive.
The new legislation states that if an agent fails to comply, then they put their business at risk of substantial fines, with the average reported to be £12,000.
This added a further administrative burden for estate agents, who under the new process, must track down the client, and ensure they check that the document is authentic.
We also understood that the way that estate agents stored sensitive and documents would come under increased scrutiny following the new GDPR regulation that landed in May 2018.
We knew our tech could allow estate agents to quickly and safely comply with the AML regulation in real-time, but we needed to understand how the industry felt about these requirements before we started speaking to them; i.e., did they know the changes? What were the key challenges?
We wanted to capture as many real-life examples of the pain points estate agents are experiencing as possible and thought the best way to get this would be via an anonymous survey.
Using an independent agency for online research
We decided to use online research to answer the questions that were most relevant to our business, estate agents and the property market.
With the nature of our business, we needed to ensure that the research agency we used was reputable.
We used independent agency OnePoll – a survey-led marketing research company specialising in online and mobile polling – to sample 100 estate agents to find out how they were managing the AML process currently.
The research came back in two weeks and highlighted that many businesses in the property sector felt overwhelmed by anti-money laundering requirements and most believed that they lacked the resource to be compliant.
We found that anti-money laundering checks were taking an average of 2.25 hours per property listing, with one of the main barriers to completion being cited as getting hold of clients to verify their ID documents.
“We needed to ensure that the research agency we used was reputable.”
From this, we were then able to estimate that if the process was streamlined using our tech, it could save businesses an average of 312 hours a month which gave us the basis of our campaign.
As a small business, our budgets are tight, so research seemed like a significant expense at the time, but we shopped around before deciding which way to go.
By doing this, we ensured that the data and research would hold under scrutiny. We would recommend researching and connecting with an agency that suits your business requirements.
We also tried to think of ways to use the research once it had been done, so as well as helping us define our product proposition, we also developed a PR campaign from the data and used a number of the stats on social media.
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