The Growing Impact of AI in Financial Crime Fighting – Spotlight Asia

Friends, welcome to my inaugural post. I look forward to sharing my observations on global financial crime issues and trends in an ongoing dialogue with you. 

Recently, I have been reflecting upon the rapid developments in our markets and what it tells us about the year to come. The past year has been notable for the sheer volume of technology advances within the Financial Service sector's financial crime efforts – particularly around machine learning, natural language processing and artificial intelligence broadly. The revolution of artificial intelligence within financial services has moved from coffee break talk to real possibilities. We are playing a key role in delivering that revolution: combining the promise of artificial intelligence for financial crime screening with a precise understanding of what firms need – minimal false positives, flexibility, precision tuning, enabling greater human efficiency, and all within a highly regulated environment.

We have some of the industry’s key thought leaders taking us on this journey, including our Chief Technology Officer, Jeff Sidell, who recently gave an extremely well-received talk on how to do machine learning in regulated environments at the Association of Certified Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) Europe conference. Combining insights from innovators like Jeff, along with RDC’s nearly two decades of accumulated experience in technical and human screening expertise, is proving to be a powerful combination.

Technology innovation is absolutely essential; however, we also need to also need to make sure that what we are doing keeps pace with what is going on in the regulatory environment and the marketplace. Life comes at you pretty fast, as someone once said. We need to ensure therefore that we understand the diversity of the regulatory environments in which our clients operate, keep track of how they’re changing, and make sure we’re part of the solution – and in real time! As I have said to our team at RDC, I want to focus on what this is all truly about: helping our clients find, weed out, and protect themselves - and all of us - from bad actors.

I have been reminded of how important it is to keep in touch with what is happening on the front lines during a recent trip to Asia. It is easy to get wrapped up in a North American and European view of things, but some of the most exciting developments in regulatory technology are taking place there. My main port of call was Singapore, where RDC has recently set up a new office. Here I met with senior bankers from the major financial institutions, key partners Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) and Finastra, along with representatives of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the national regulator.

What struck me was the number of new use-cases emerging in the Financial Technology (FinTech) and Financial Services space and how positive everyone was about the potential for artificial intelligence to be the game changer in fighting financial crime around these use cases. At the same time, Singapore financial services leaders appreciate and value best-in-class data to power progress. Singapore has been a leader in curating accessible public data, through the government’s ‘Smart Nation’ program, and when we talked about the breadth, depth and quality of RDC’s gold-standard risk database, it really struck a chord. They say ‘cash is king’ in Asia. It feels like ‘data is king’, or at least will be soon, when it comes to fighting financial crime.

Asia is also a real hub of innovation in the FinTech sector, another area in which we're playing an important community-building role. We joined the launch of the FinTech FinCrime Exchange (FFE)’s Asian chapter in Singapore on 26 June, continuing our support for the group as it expands globally. Again, the inaugural session was buzzing, sending the message that Asian businesses want to be able to leverage the best out of advancing regulatory technology. I met with several FinTech businesses in Singapore and China, and we were very much in accord on the need for innovation combined with experience. New financial firms want to innovate, but they don’t want to do it blind. This is one of the areas where I think a firm like ours can really help. The FFE global community and others like it are critically important, we must share experiences and hard-earned learnings with each other so that progress can accelerate and out-pace bad actors in this time of digital revolution and it is hugely rewarding to see that sharing in action. 

Anyway, I will wrap it up for this week. Thanks for reading, and please do get in contact. I would welcome your views on this (still experimental) blog, and if you think we can help you or your business, we are keen to talk.

Just reach out.

Tom Walsh