Newcastle goes online to tackle money laundering

The Society is implementing a web-based identity checking system called URU developed by GB Group with BT across its 51 branches nationwide.

The URU system will allow staff taking new customer applications for mortgages to make an instant check to ensure they are who they say they are.

It does this by checking information supplied by customers against a database owned by GB Group and BT, which contains 71 million DVLA and passport records, over 5.7 million international population data files and numerous bereavement registers.

Following comparison, a “match” or “no match” report is produced, allowing Newcastle Building Society to accept the customer or request additional information for them to prove their identity.

Newcastle Building Society says the new system will increase efficiency and ensure compliance with increasingly stringent Financial Services Authority regulations designed to counter money laundering.

The decision follows the Society’s launch of its Triple Protector mortgage in June with John Charcol, which offers several layers of protection for borrowers against sickness, unemployment and negative equity.

David Moore, money laundering reporting officer at Newcastle Building Society, said: “Over 75 per cent of applications by new customers for our mortgages, loans and savings products can now be processed electronically from our branches using URU.

"This means we can speed up applications and concentrate extra time on situations where in-depth identity checks need to be made.

“It is also now a legal requirement for mortgage providers to have robust systems in place for confirming the identity of customers and keeping detailed records - URU is a hassle-free way of complying with this requirement.”

Rob Laurence, managing director of GB Group’s Authentication division, says: “The URU system is a faster, cheaper, secure and more convenient way to fight money laundering risks. It provides our clients with more confidence and the time to serve customers better.

"URU also helps companies to demonstrate compliance with strict legislation including the Proceeds of Crime Act and the Financial Services Authority’s ‘Know Your Customer’ regulations.”