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KYC and Good Customer Experience

I’ve been a customer of Amazon for over seven years. Every month, I pay my bill of hundreds of dollars for hosting, on time, as expected.

What do I get for my loyalty and prompt payments? A letter from an anonymous department informing me that my account will be closed within four days if I do not fax them the following:

  • My complete residential address
  • A copy of an unexpired passport or other government-issued identification (for example, a driver’s license)
  • A proof of address, such as a recent utility bill (if the address on the passport or government-issued identification is not current)

Five days after I received this, I was sent the following email:


We have not yet received the information we requested in our previous email. If we do not receive this information within 4 days, your account may be closed.

Within 4 days, please send the requested information by fax. We will convert your fax to a secure electronic image and confirm within 24 hours of receipt. For your security, please do not send this information via email.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact us at [email protected].


Can a website really be sincere? And if the company were really sincere, shouldn’t this email come from an actual person (a relationship manager, perhaps)? And really, a fax?

I already pay Amazon every month via credit card, which has my name on it. The company has my address, which I would re-re-re-confirm with them that I am who I say I am.

Of course, Amazon will insist that what they’re doing is regulation/policy/procedure and that they have no choice but to request for my documentation. However, all companies have a choice as to how convenient – or annoying – a process they want to make for their customers to confirm their identity.

Amazon is a company that literally defined the online shopping experience. They have a patent on their one-click checkout process, and they are, in my opinion, the most important marketplace company in the United States. They know a thing or two about customer experience.

But when it comes to identity and KYC, they, like everyone else, fail miserably to deliver a pleasant customer experience.

Why was I put through these hurdles? Because I had renamed my account, using my company’s name instead of my personal name. Excuse me for wanting a bit of privacy in the online space. Apparently, Amazon does not allow anyone to use a pseudonym or the name of a legal entity as an account name.

Except for Amazon themselves, where it’s obviously acceptable, judging by their sign-off:


Amazon isn’t the only company that has this strange requirement of their long-time customers to prove their identity. Many banks commonly “refresh” certain accounts, and would request that holders of these accounts produce documentation to confirm their identity, even though some of these customers may have held an account for over a decade.

This process to prove their clients’ identities are often clunky and burdensome, and while the intent is so that these companies can avoid risk, the outcome is almost always an annoyed customer who is indeed who he says he is.

Is there a better way? Yes – an identity wallet. KYC-Chain is coming soon.