- ADB Trade Finance Program released a study verifying that the Legal Entity Identifier can be obtained by SMEs in small developing countries at reasonable cost and effort.
- The Legal Entity Identifier is a unique electronic, 20-digit standard identifier for legal entities worldwide. Relevant reference data are easy to access, making it easier to identify legal entities and verify their status.
- The private sector can play a large role in the adoption of the Legal Entity Identifier by using it in its daily business processes. Banks can also encourage clients to obtain an LEI.
- Global adoption of the Legal Entity Identifier can help solve problems in AML/CFT, promote fintech, and close market gaps.
ADB’s Trade Finance Program conducted this survey to determine if the Legal Entity Identifier system is accessible in developing countries. Global adoption of the LEI system would address two challenges: access to finance and transparency in the economy.
Janet Hyde, Investment Specialist, Trade Finance Program - It is a 20-digit electronic identifier, rather like a passport number, originally targeted at the financial sector. It is becoming increasingly mandatory for all participants in the financial market to register. We are also encouraging SMEs to apply. So that eventually, who is who, who does what, who owns what can be verified from one single source.
We think there are three key benefits of the LEI. It will increase transparency in the global economy, combating financial crime, and helping institutions to conduct their own KYC due diligence and meet compliance requirements. This in turn will improve the access to finance for SMEs, particularly in emerging and developing markets, facilitating the flow of information that in previous years simply was not available.
The aim of the TFP survey was to demonstrate to companies both small and large, particularly in our region, as well as global financial institutions, they can acquire an LEI with relative ease and at reasonable cost.
87% of our respondents said that the LEI was easy or very easy to acquire. 65% of those surveyed said that they could do so at the cost of less than $75. And in fact, 77% of the respondents said the cost is overall reasonable. 62% were able to complete the entire process within a week.
To widen its accessibility, GLEIF, the foundation that runs the LEI has already been introducing some price reduction in the cost of acquiring and maintaining the LEI.
The financial sector including TFP member banks play a key role in extending the LEI roll out, by incorporating the identifier into its daily business processes and so encouraging its customers to register. The International Chamber of Commerce has recommended to the G20 that the LEI become mandatory for all importing and exporting companies. And to combat financial crime, both SWIFT and the BIS Committee for Payments (and Market Infrastructures) have recommended that the LEI be incorporated into all electronic remittances in the future.
So, in collaboration with GLEIF, the TFP will continue to raise awareness of these issues and developments at its various conference and events, to promote understanding and adoption of this key initiative.