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Don’t let our quick fix society get in way of AML checks

It’s very clear that money laundering is well and truly on the rise. Although it’s pretty much impossible to pinpoint exact figures, government officials estimate that between $800 billion and $2 trillion cash is laundered globally, every year. That’s a staggering 2- 5% of global GDP annually. That’s an amount which looks set to rise with criminals exploiting avenues like cryptocurrencies and money exchange businesses. Indeed, the law enforcement agencies tasked with stopping this criminality have never had a harder job. 

However, despite the increasingly difficult task put in front of them, authorities aggressively pursue any potential money laundering risks, and in the UK alone, achieve 1,400 convictions a year for money laundering offences. In comparison with less industrialised countries, the UK is an attractive place to launder money, due to its financial stability. 

Recently UK Police raided 12 Bureaux de Change and currency exchange businesses across London with another 39 lined up, in order to check if they are complying with the law. It is believed that “a significant number” of these companies are acting as “launderettes” for illegal activity. In London alone there are around 9,000 money exchanges that will handle billions of pounds each year. With an estimate of £100bn being laundered each year through the UK, it’s unsure how much of this goes through money services businesses. 

For these money exchange businesses, many of which are small scale, it could be seen as very costly and extremely onerous to vet all of their customers effectively. In today’s quick fix society in which customers want instant access to funds, the pressure is on these companies to ensure turnaround is quick and easy, which often means the know your customer procedures and policies in place aren’t as tight as they could be, leading to criminals taking advantage. 

But the process doesn’t need to be difficult. New developments in ID verification allow for simple and effective verification of customers within an incredibly fast timescale. Automation ensures that human error is eradicated, and verification can be undertaken on global identity documents with a simple document scan on a mobile device and a selfie with liveness detection.

Fitting effective KYC checks into your customer process is a vital part of adhering to money laundering regulations and ensuring your business doesn’t fall foul. However, it’s also helping to slow the spread of money laundering and terrorist financing and stopping criminals in their tracks.

 

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