Contrary to stereotype, financial crimes are not victimless. Traffickers in illegal arms, drugs, looted antiquities, endangered wildlife, and human beings are financial criminals, because they must launder their profits to use them. Today, they do this at low risk.

The United Nations estimates annual financial crime at $2 trillion and says we catch less than 1 percent – despite industry spending as much as $180 billion dollars globally every year to comply with anti-money laundering (AML) laws, plus billions in penalties when they fail. Meanwhile 40 million people are held captive today in modern human slavery – more than ever before in history – and ten million are children. Terrorist financing involves additional motives but operates through the same mechanisms of laundering illicit funds.

This is asymmetrical war, with criminals and terror networks using very high tech methods to hide money, while the financial industry and government still rely on mostly analog-era technology.

Meanwhile, the AML rules on Know Your Customer (KYC) inadvertently block innocent people from opening bank accounts, which exacerbates financial exclusion throughout the world.

All this is changing. AML is one of the most advanced global use cases for “regtech.” AIR works with regulators, law enforcement, banks and technology firms worldwide to create new tools to fight financial crime

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TechSprint on Protecting Children

AIR hosted a TechSprint to find ways to curb the rising use of cryptocurrency to purchase online Child Sexual Abuse Material, or CSAM. The resulting tools were presented to the Director of FinCEN and are being incubated in the AIR Accelerator. During the sprint, one team found a likely case of actual CSAM crime in progress, which we referred to law enforcement.

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TechSprint on AML with UK Financial Conduct Authority

AIR collaborated with the FCA on the first-ever US regulatory TechSprint, enabling easier sharing of data on patterns and participants in financial crimes, while still protecting privacy and the integrity of investigations.

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