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Micro Deposits & Micro Withdrawals

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We’re not lawyers and nothing that we write should be considered a legal opinion. Whether or not a solution will be acceptable to your regulators will always depend on your implementation and documentation – please contact us if you need help with either.

Background

There are a limited number of ways for Canadian reporting entities to identify individuals without meeting face to face. Previously, we have sought opinions from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) on whether or not micro deposits and micro withdrawals could be used to confirm a customer’s identity. Until recently, the answer had been no. We reached out to FINTRAC again on the issue after learning that technology had evolved in a way that could meet the requirements. We’re pleased to share with you that FINTRAC is of the opinion that – given the right technology conditions – micro deposits and micro withdrawals can indeed be used to confirm a customer’s identity.

Confirmation Of A Deposit Account

The methods that can be used to confirm a customer’s identity are listed in Schedule 7 of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations (PCMLTFR). The “Confirmation of a Deposit Account Method” involves confirming that the person has a deposit account (this means a chequing or savings type of account) with a Canadian financial entity (this means a bank, credit union or caisse populaire). To use this method, reporting entities must keep a record of the name of the financial entity where the account is held, the account number and the date of the confirmation.

The key elements of this method involve determining that the account belongs to the person that you are trying to identify and determining that the account is indeed a chequing or savings type of account.

Micro Deposits and Micro Withdrawals

Previously, micro deposits and micro withdrawals were viewed as failing on both of these key elements. Confirming the amount of a micro transaction proved that a person had access to the account, but not that they owned the account. It was also viewed as impossible to determine the type of account (for instance the account may have been a line of credit that had a similar account number structure).

Fortunately, technology has advanced and some payment processors are able to conduct name matching (in some cases, payments are even stopped if there isn’t a match) as well as the type of account. Not all payment processors may have the capabilities, but if you’re looking for a way to automate some of your non face-to-face customer identification, this could be an option.

Implementation Checklist

We’ve broken down the implementation into seven key questions. If you’re able to answer yes in each case, you’re likely to be ready to implement micro deposits or micro withdrawals as an identification method.

  1. Does my payment processor conduct name matching (our client’s name against the account being debited or credited) and what confirmation do we receive of a match?
  2. Is our system set up to keep a record that demonstrates that the name was matched?
  3. Does my payment processor have access to the account type when an account is being debited or credited and can they pass that information to us and/or confirm for us that the account is a deposit account?
  4. Is our system set up to keep a record of the type of account or confirmation that the account is a deposit account?
  5. Is our system set up to keep a record of the name of the financial entity where the account is held?
  6. Is our system set up to keep a record of the account number?
  7. Is our system set up to keep a record of the date of the confirmation?

In addition to this list, you should also give some thought to what happens when identification fails (for example if the name doesn’t match or the account isn’t the right type). You’ll need to consider an alternative way to identify your client, and you probably don’t want their account stuck in limbo.

Need a Hand?

If you want to be certain that you’re meeting the standard described in this blog, or just someone to chat with to make sure that you’re on the right track please contact us.

Full Text Response

Good afternoon Ms. Scott,

Thank you for contacting the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), Canada’s independent agency responsible for the collection, analysis, assessment and disclosure of information in order to assist in the detection, prevention, and deterrence of money laundering and financing of terrorist activities in Canada and abroad.

You indicated, “some payment providers have the capacity to match the customer’s name to the name on the account (and will not process transactions if there is not a match) and return information about the type of account to which the transaction was pushed.”

In light of this, you have asked whether micro-withdrawals and/or micro-deposits would be acceptable for use as confirmation of a deposit account provided that:

(a) there was a confirmed name match; and

(b) the account type was confirmed as a deposit account.

Subparagraph 64(1)(b)(ii) of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations (PCMLTFR) states that non-face-to-face identification can be done by using a combination of identification methods as set out in Part A of Schedule 7, the confirmation of deposit account method being one. This method of ascertaining a person’s identity consists of confirming that the person has a deposit account with a financial entity, other than an account referred to in section 62 of the PCMLTFR. For the deposit account method, paragraph 67(c) of the PCMLTFR requires that the client name, the deposit account number, the financial entity name, and the date of the confirmation be recorded. Therefore, if the payment provider confirms the client name, the deposit account number, the financial entity name, and the date of the confirmation, then yes, the micro-withdrawals and/or micro-deposits is an acceptable means to confirm a deposit account with a financial entity as per Part A of Schedule 7 of the PCMLTFR, and would satisfy one of the two combination methods required.

Please note that FINTRAC does not endorse nor advertise any products, companies, or providers of consumer information.

I trust this information will be of assistance.

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