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Half of business owners distrust automated AML checks – study

More than two in five (47%) business decision-makers have some level of distrust when it comes to any of their anti-money laundering (AML) checks being automated, despite this year’s lockdown preventing most physical checks.

The latest findings from AML software provider SmartSearch have highlighted a distinct lack of trust in electronic checks and verification, with almost half (47%) of senior business figures showing some level of doubt.

Despite the adoption of automatic checks becoming commonplace during the UK’s first lockdown, 23% of businesses still have no automated processes in place when it comes to AML, while 21% do not trust any checks to be automated at all.


The figures come as the nation is experiencing another lockdown, which will prevent many physical checks from taking place.

John Dobson, chief executive officer at SmartSearch comments: “It’s understandable that there’s still some trepidation when it comes to e-verification and checks. You have to be able to trust that the system you’re using is totally accurate and reliable. However, if this year has taught us anything it’s that businesses simply can’t afford to ignore automation.”

When asked which of the standard customer authentication checks they would trust to be automated, relatives and close associations (RCA) checks were found to be the least trusted, with just 14% saying they would automate these.

According to SmartSearch’s data, the most and least trusted customer authentication checks are:

1.       Credit history (29%) 

2.       Special Interest Person (26.4%)

3.       Customer Due Diligence (23%)

4.       Identity (22%)

5.       Sanctions and PIPs (20.4%)

6.       Relatives and close associates) (14.6%)

The accountancy industry appears best prepared for an age of automation in AML. Among those working in this sector, almost a third (32%) said they fully trust the automated processes they currently have in place overall, rising to 56% for checks such as customer due diligence. However, 19% still admitted to having no automated checks in place in their business.

Earlier this year, SmartSearch launched its TripleCheck system, combining innovative technology (including facial recognition) and digital fraud checks to create a robust AML platform.

Dobson adds: “There’s been so much innovation in the AML sector, so I would urge those responsible for AML checks to research the options available to them. Getting your automation right could be a major help as we all try and navigate 2020’s challenging business landscape.”


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