During the current global health pandemic, adapting AML and regulatory procedures is imperative as firms seek to manoeuvre through the challenging period. 

We spoke to William Hill’s Group Director of AML, Steven Armstrong, about the evolving fight against fraud and corruption and why he’s excited to be part of the ‘perfectly timed’ SBC Digital Summit. 

Payment Expert: Have operators had to be more stringent in terms of AML procedures in light of the global pandemic? 

Steven Armstrong: The global pandemic is adding layers of complexity in regards to operations and managing resources remotely for all of us. I would not say that operators are having to be more stringent, instead it is a matter of refocusing their risk appetite. 

An operator is constantly adapting to the changing landscape and as much as this pandemic is something never seen before in our times, operators adjust, rework and manage their risk accordingly. I am certainly proud to work in an industry that has reacted and refocused in the current difficult times.

PE: How pivotal can data be in terms of halting money laundering?

SA: Data is key to all elements of AML, because without information and importantly up to date information, decision making will not be accurate. Taking KYC processes, for example, the better and more in-depth these are, the better the decision-making process. If you are flying blind, then we will never get to the right call, be it AML or commercial.

With data, however, it is only as good and relevant alongside the timestamp, if the data is out of date then it becomes redundant in our world. That is why ongoing monitoring, retriggering and regular customer interaction reviews are so important.

PE: Do you believe AI technology can play a role in combating Money Laundering? 

SA: To an extent and used in the correct way AI technology can play a key role, but it has to be used alongside human assessment, especially in AML. AML is subjective and is focused on suspicion not fixed outcomes. 

AI technology will never replace AML decision making in my opinion, but can certainly be used to improve it. If used in the way to minimise false positives, then it enables more resources to be allocated to real AML issues, and not managing a pool of false-positive flags. This will tighten the pool of suspicion and enable operators to get resources focused to the correct areas.

PE: When it comes to AML innovations, is the betting sector ahead of other industries and do you believe we could see other industries adopting techniques from the betting sector? 

SA: As an industry, we are a leader in certain ways, this is mainly around developing systems and in-house solutions to AML innovation. The industry is great at pulling together and working on solutions and innovations. We are also attracting more and more talent from other industries which is great, that knowledge and cross over will only continue to improve our industry in the AML field. 

Sometimes what holds us back as an industry is that we get priced out of utilising AML innovation from other industries, banking tools that would fit perfectly in our world often are too expensive, and we are priced out. A message to other industries would be to invite us to the table to help, share and learn, let’s be collaborative in the fight against financial crime.

PE: Lastly, can you tell us a little more about the SBC Digital Summit and how pleased you are to be involved?

SA: I am always keen to support the SBC events, I feel the events are so useful for our industry, and allow great debate, innovation and learnings industry-wide. As a member of the newly formed payments expert advisory board, I take great pride in how the events are topical and relevant.

The digital summit comes at a perfect time for our industry, with the COVID-19 effects being felt globally, the event gives us a chance as an industry to join forces and show the strength we have even in these unprecedented times.

Find full details of the SBC Digital Summit, including information about how to register and discounts available on company group passes at the event’s official website: https://sbcevents.com/sbc-digital-summit/

To enquire about the last remaining sponsorship or exhibition opportunities at the event, please contact [email protected]