What is Simplified Due Diligence (SDD)?

Modern financial institutions are tasked with the critical responsibility of ensuring their customers’ credibility. This process, known as due diligence, involves a comprehensive evaluation of potential customers to assess their risk level and verify their legitimacy. Among the various types of due diligence, Simplified Due Diligence (SDD) stands out as a streamlined procedure designed for low-risk scenarios. This article presents an in-depth exploration of SDD, its comparison with Customer Due Diligence (CDD), its applications, steps involved, benefits, and frequently asked questions.

What is Simplified Due Diligence (SDD)?

Simplified Due Diligence is a lean, efficient approach to due diligence. It’s primarily utilized in situations where a business relationship or transaction presents a low risk of financial crimes such as money laundering or terrorist financing. SDD is characterized by a reduced scope of checks, consequently leading to a more expedited process compared to its counterparts.

In essence, Simplified due diligence is the lowest level of due diligence. It allows financial institutions and other sectors to conduct their necessary customer assessments without getting bogged down by exhaustive checks, thereby enhancing operational efficiency. Individuals with government-issued IDs, established businesses with transparent ownership structures, and clients from low-risk industries or jurisdictions qualify for Simplified Due Diligence.

Simplified Due Diligence Vs Customer Due Diligence [SDD vs CDD]

The due diligence landscape can be broadly categorized into three main sectors: Simplified Due Diligence (SDD), Customer Due Diligence (CDD), and Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD). Each category caters to different risk levels associated with individuals or transactions.
SDD is the most basic form of due diligence, applicable when a customer or transaction poses a minimal risk. It offers a swift and simplified verification process, making it a suitable choice when dealing with low-risk customers or transactions.

On the other hand, CDD, also known as standard due diligence, is the baseline verification process that all financial institutions are expected to perform. It’s typically applied to customers or transactions with an average level of risk. CDD involves a thorough verification process, including identity checks, risk profiling, and continuous monitoring of customer activity.

When is Simplified Due Diligence Needed?

SDD comes into play under specific circumstances where the risk of financial crimes is deemed low. Examples of such situations include:
Dealing with government entities

  • Engaging with publicly-known companies
  • Interacting with customers regulated by authoritative bodies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
  • Handling low-value transactions
  • Offering services or products with a low risk of money laundering

It’s crucial to note that the application of SDD can vary across jurisdictions, owing to differing legal and regulatory frameworks. Hence, businesses must thoroughly understand the specific laws governing due diligence in all the jurisdictions they operate.

Steps Involved in the SDD Process

Implementing SDD involves a series of systematic steps:

  • Risk Assessment: The initial step involves assessing the risk associated with the customer or transaction. This evaluation helps determine whether SDD is appropriate.
  • Customer Identification: After establishing the low-risk nature of the customer or transaction, businesses must collect basic customer information.
  • Risk Profiling: Once the customer’s identity is established, a risk profile is created. This profile helps determine the level of due diligence required.
  • Ongoing Monitoring: Despite the simplified nature of SDD, it’s crucial to continuously monitor customer activity and transactions to detect any changes in risk status.

Benefits of SDD

The implementation of SDD offers significant benefits, including:

  • Efficiency: By streamlining the due diligence process, SDD enables businesses to expedite customer verification, thereby improving operational efficiency.
  • Cost-Effective: SDD reduces the need for extensive verification procedures, ultimately leading to cost savings.
  • Customer Satisfaction: With a simple and swift verification process, businesses can enhance the customer experience, thereby improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Stages of Simplified Due Diligence

SDD involves a three-stage process:

  1. Determine Eligibility: The initial stage involves determining whether a customer or transaction qualifies for SDD. This involves evaluating various factors that collectively form the customer risk score.
  2. Collect Basic Information: If the customer or transaction is deemed eligible for SDD, businesses proceed to collect basic customer information. This includes essential details such as the customer’s name and contact information.
  3. Ongoing Monitoring: The final stage involves continuous monitoring of the customer’s activity and transactions to keep track of any changes in risk status.

What is a CDD Checklist?

The Simplified Due Diligence checklist includes verifying customers’ identity with government-issued IDs, conducting basic risk assessment, performing sanctions and PEP checks, confirming low-risk status, monitoring transactions, and maintaining records for compliance and regulations.

The CDD checklists are:

1: Customer Identification
2: Customer Type Verification
3: Ongoing Monitoring
4: Sanctions and PEP checks
5: Risk Assessment
6: Compliance Verificaiton


  • A comparison between improved due diligence and ordinary client due diligence may help shed light on how simplified due diligence works.
  • A crucial practice in the financial industry, Customer Due Diligence (CDD) helps banks recognize the dangers that their customers face.
  • Each person or transaction’s risk level is considered as the procedure progresses along a continuum.
  • For instances with little risk, the first stage is SDD or Simplified Due Diligence. The purpose of these fundamental inspections is to forestall potential terrorist attacks and money laundering.
  • The next rung up is Standard Customer Due Diligence (CDD), which is good for low to medium-risk situations. Ensuring financial integrity is the goal of these thorough audits.
  • Last but not least, in cases involving high risk, Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) is used. It encompasses comprehensive investigations and an expanded emphasis on risk reduction, including the prevention of money laundering and the funding of terrorism.Every layer is carefully crafted to efficiently reduce threats, such as money laundering and terrorist funding, guaranteeing the preservation of financial integrity.



Simplified Due Diligence (SDD) plays a pivotal role in the realm of customer verification, particularly in low-risk scenarios. It offers a streamlined, efficient alternative to traditional due diligence procedures, aiding businesses in maintaining regulatory compliance while enhancing operational efficiency. By understanding the nuances of SDD, businesses can effectively mitigate risk, adhere to legal requirements, and foster a secure business environment.

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