New research from anti-money laundering (AML) specialist SmartSearch has found just under a third (28%) of regulated businesses are unaware of digital AML solutions, such as electronic verification.

Lack of awareness

These results are particularly surprising as customer demand for digital systems is reaching new heights.

The survey of 500 regulated firms in the UK found a third (37%) claimed they had not considered switching to an electronic platform to complete the mandatory anti-money laundering checks.

Combined with a lack of awareness, a quarter (23%) of regulated firms also claimed they were ‘highly confident’ they could spot a fake document.

Electronic Verification Uncovered

These findings form part of SmartSearch’s Electronic Verification Uncovered campaign which is calling for all regulated businesses to switch to EV, as digital onboarding can be completed in just a few seconds.

Using manual verification methods is both much more time-consuming, and also much less secure. Forged documents are becoming increasingly sophisticated and take an expert to spot. Despite this, 28% of regulated businesses claimed that using hard copy documents was a more reliable method for establishing ID.

This statistic is particularly concerning as fraudulent documents are also more frequently being produced, with SmartSearch’s research finding almost half (48%) of respondents had reported a rise in financial crime attempts in the past 12 months.

The lack of awareness of digital solutions is worrying as criminals are using the sophisticated methods to try and deceive. Martin Cheek (pictured), managing director of SmartSearch explained while the responses are concerning, there is a positive side. 

He said: “Looking at the flipside of the research, the majority of regulated businesses are aware of digital solutions, and this is encouraging.

“With the increase in fraudulent attempts, and the complexity of these fakes, using the best available technology to prevent money laundering is critical.

“Criminals will exploit any weakness in the chain, so we ideally need all regulated businesses embracing the most effective and efficient methods.

“Electronic verification works by using credit reference data, combined with other reliable sources, creating a unique ‘composite digital identity’ which is virtually impossible to fake. The best systems can complete a check in just two seconds.

“The Financial Conduct Authority has endorsed the use of electronic verification, and those looking to make the switch should not hesitate.”

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