Tech seen needed vs money laundering

Bruce Rodriguez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2021 07:17 PM | Updated as of Aug 11 2021 11:30 AM

MANILA – Financial industry business leaders in the region believe the Philippines can improve its anti-money laundering status with the use of technology and automation in financial transactions.

This follows the country's placement in the "grey list" of the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF). 

The grey list identifies jurisdictions under increased monitoring for failing to address strategic deficiencies in their regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing.

"It starts really from onboarding your client. You should be able to put in technology solutions for you to be able to check the identity of the clients and validity of the transaction," said Rico Bautista, president and chief executive officer Malaysia-based insurance company Etiqa Philippines.

"As soon as you're able to put these solutions, so you will be able to now check the things that you should have in terms of identifying and hopefully upgrading our status as a country," Bautista added.

Aside from technological solutions, he explained, there are still a lot of processes in both the private and government sector that can be automated to identify threats of illicit money.

Bharath Vellore, managing director for Asia Pacific at global risk solutions provider, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, said whenever a jurisdiction like the Philippines is placed under the grey list there should be three areas that it should improve on.

These are better legislation to ensure law enforcement agencies can prosecute perpetrators, cooperation between regulatory bodies and financial institutions, as well as the inclusion of non-financial organizations in high-risk sectors like casinos, real estate companies, and company service providers.

Vellore said technology solutions can help improve the supervisory functions of regulators and industry players.

"How can your processes be improved, where do you put in solutions to either screen transactions, do your due diligence on customers, identify risks; so all those different areas, mapping it back into the regulations, that is where most of the solution problems come in," he explained.

Manish Bhai, president and CEO of UNOBank, a major all-digital bank in Southeast Asia said, companies should pick solution providers that can make sure all forms of risks are addressed.

"We look at solution providers who are holistic, who are not only looking at problems as of today, but how has the commitment to stay as the crimes are deepening and their regular updates to the system," Bhai said.

It's important, he added, that technology solutions adapt to the changing forms of cybercrime.

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