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Sunday 21 October 2018


OCBC targets money laundering with AI tech

Written by Chris Lemmon

OCBC Bank has piloted two FinTech solutions to enhance its competency in fighting money laundering and terrorism financing.

The two FinTech companies involved – BlackSwan Technologies and Silent Eight – were part of the second FinTech Accelerator Programme run by The Open Vault at OCBC. The companies leverage artificial intelligence to conduct research on individuals and entities suspected of illegal financing. This is done by searching for information on individual profiles, and mapping how suspicious transactions may be linked to one another to see if they are indeed fraudulent or illegal.

This process is carried out manually by an internal compliance analyst, with the total time required lasting between one hour and a few days. The FinTech solutions speed things up significantly – for instance, the “desktop” component of the research can be reduced from one hour to just one minute – and can increase the overall productivity of an analyst by 100 per cent.

Silent Eight, one of the FinTech solutions piloted, helps to automate the desktop research process by enabling analysts to digitally scan Internet search engines, news sites and internal and external databases to put together the suspicious individual’s “dossier” within just a minute. Artificial intelligence enables the system to filter out irrelevant information such as individuals with identical names.

BlackSwan Technologies, the second transaction monitoring FinTech solution, leverages artificial intelligence to analyse the suspicious transactions, mapping them to a network of related transactions to identify possible connections with other individuals or companies which may be atypical or previously unknown. This can simplify the task of the analyst and provide useful leads to follow up on.

Alex Ng, head of OCBC Bank’s group transaction surveillance that led the two pilots, commented: “We saw great potential in these two Fintech start-ups. We felt that this ‘back office process’ of transaction monitoring could definitely use an innovative solution to help automate things and make our investigative research more timely and effective.

“The Open Vault at OCBC Fintech Accelerator Programme gave us the opportunity to work closely with the Fintechs during a short burst of three months, to experiment by providing them with anonymised real data to see how the solutions can meet our needs. We were not disappointed.”

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