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Davos 2018: Big data and our role fighting financial crime

As the fight against financial crime and corruption gathers pace, Davos 2018 has highlighted to business and political leaders their vital role in fostering cross-border co-operation and data sharing.

Addressing the stark realities we all face in this increasingly fractured world, the World Economic Forum in Davos sought to encourage a common narrative and co-operative mindset.

In the case of financial crime, this sense of partnership will be essential if public and private sector organizations are to develop unified strategies, such as the exchange of data and information sharing across borders.

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Only in this way can we make an impact on the global networks behind financial crime and the untold societal harm it can bring.

We sit at the very center of this effort, with the use of technology and big data, which are important weapons against the perpetrators of financial crime.

Financial crime quote

Technology and financial crime

At Davos, David Craig, our President of Financial & Risk, led a keynote breakfast discussion on financial crime.

In it, he outlined how leaders in both public and private sectors – including ourselves – are contributing to a multi-level, broad-based global solution.

For our part, we are addressing financial crime on many fronts. These include:

  • A broad array of technological and big data solutions for identifying and rooting out suspect individuals and entities — wherever they exist
  • Strategic partnerships
  • Leading-edge investigative journalism that has uncovered illegal activities
  • Thought leadership forums.

Last year, we jointly published a milestone report entitled Big Data, A Twenty-First Century Arms Race with The Atlantic Council, a leading American think-tank.

The report covered the double-edged role that technology plays in financial crime.

It’s true that financial criminals are more sophisticated and savvy in how they leverage technology, or “crimetech”, to launder money to fund illicit and terrorist activities.

Yet it’s also true that technology will be the way forward to identify and tackle those responsible.

Crime-fighting tools

Banks, financial services companies and public institutions are in the vanguard of fighting this crime. They need ever-more sophisticated tools to monitor and track criminals and the transactions they undertake.

That is why it is so crucial to use all the tools at our disposal to step up the fight against financial crime.

One of these tools is data, and our expertise is playing a big role in helping both private and governmental sectors use data to detect warning signals in the noise.

We have the technology to connect the dots, quickly revealing the patterns and networks that evidence possible suspicious activity and prevent financial crime from happening in the first place.

Big data analytics

For instance, big data analytics can use structured and unstructured raw data from different sources, such as geo-location data, and those from mobile devices and social media.

They can then detect fraudulent activities, unearth hidden connections between accounts and track the relationship between the sources and beneficiary.

Challenging? Yes. But the stakes could hardly be higher.

Solving financial crime goes far beyond monetary benefits. Simply put, if we can successfully challenge illegal financial dealings, we can also tackle many societal issues.

Every year, an estimated US$2.4 trillion in proceeds from activities such as forced prostitution, terrorism and drug trafficking will be laundered through the world’s financial markets and banking systems.

Only by working together and harnessing technology can private and public institutions really hope to take the fight to the child traffickers, drug cartels and prostitution rings, and hope to win it.

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