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KYC Best Practices07 May 2024

Phone Number Verification in South Africa - Benefits & Importance for AML Compliance

Emmanuel Agwu

From seamlessly opening bank accounts to conducting high-volume transactions, phones have developed to become a one-stop shop for most financial needs today. Basically, they have become an integral part of the financial system and by extension, an integral part of preventing financial crimes. Organisations today can leverage a customer's phone number to verify their identity and other signs that may be indicative of a risk. Therefore, phone number verification in South Africa could be important in Anti Money Laundering compliance (AML) or Know Your Customer (KYC) processes. 

What is Phone Number Verification?

Phone number verification is the process of verifying that a phone number provided by a customer is valid and truly owned by the customer. Essentially, it serves as a way to verify a client's identity by checking the official registry for whom that number is registered. 

Why is Phone Number Verification Important?


Phone number verification helps organisations:

  • Verify that the phone number provided by the customer is valid
  • Verify the identity of the customer
  • Make informed risk-based decisions based on other attributes related to the phone number and determine a proper course of action
  • Achieve low-friction customer onboarding


Overall, phone number verification in South Africa is important for fighting fraud. This is because fraudsters do not use their real phone numbers and resort to other means. Additionally, other risk signals could be identified even if the phone number provided is valid. 

How to Verify Customer Phone Number?

Phone number verification could be adapted to work differently depending on the scenario. Smile ID’s phone number verification in South Africa solution follows the process: 

Step 1: Collect User Details

Collect the customer name and phone number using your onboarding form.

Step 2: Submit Information via API

Submit information to our Basic or Enhanced KYC API to query the government database using only the phone number.

Step 3: Get Real-time Results

Results will return a value of no match, partial match, or exact match, along with detailed data from specific fields that match.


Businesses can verify and onboard customers with their phone numbers via our no-code platform or API integration. Book a free demo today to learn more.

Bottom line

Ultimately, verifying a phone number is fully compliant for low-level account opening and could be adapted for low friction onboarding for low-risk accounts. Smile ID’s phone number verification solution for South Africa simply searches the government databases with the phone number provided for a match and gives results in less than 2 seconds. 


Have more questions or ready to get started? Book a free demo with our experts today.

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