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DELOITTE REGULATORY & FINANCIAL CRIME CONFERENCE 2017 SIGNALS DISRUPTIVE CHANGE IS COMING

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DELOITTE REGULATORY & FINANCIAL CRIME CONFERENCE 2017 SIGNALS DISRUPTIVE CHANGE IS COMING

Deloitte and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) second annual Regulatory and Financial Crime Conference 2017 (RFCC) signals, disruptive change is coming and advises regulators and financial institutions to embrace this change to avoid falling behind quickly.

Launched in 2016, as part of the Deloitte Global Financial Crime Symposium series, this year’s RFCC brought together 18 regional and international speakers who shared their experience and knowledge on trending topics. The conference was attended by more than 150 practitioners, local and global regulators, business and key opinion leaders, representing over 100 companies who debated the disruptive forces redefining how Middle East financial institutions and regulators need to operate in the future.

Keynote speaker, Bob Contri, Deloitte’s Global Financial Services Industry Leader said “There may be some debate about how exactly the financial services landscape will change as disruptive technologies emerge, but it is undeniable: change is coming.  Financial institutions and regulators worldwide must adapt – or risk falling quickly behind. The UAE’s notable efforts to stay ahead of the curve are welcome in an unpredictable, and at times worrying, world.”

The conference programme included a series of expert panel discussions, with leading industry and regulatory experts who discussed the top ten regulatory trends in the region, innovation in fighting financial crime and the role of regulators in disruptive times and the “Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) requirements preparedness, including the UAE’s ambition to become a full-time FATF member.

“Based on my recent conversations with banks and regulators in the U.A.E., it is encouraging to hear about the steps being taken by the financial institutions to combat and mitigate the risks of financial crime and money laundering. Utilizing a robust and proactive risk-based approach will be key for the banks in the future to identify and address financial crime risks as they emerge, and to manage growing compliance costs in this arena.” said Micheal Shepard, Global AML, Sanctions and Financial Crime Leader, Deloitte.

“Meeting increasingly complex regulatory obligations remains a challenge for financial institutions – not just in the UAE, but worldwide. The financial institutions globally and regionally need to refresh their Regulatory and Financial Crime risk management strategies for how they respond to regulation and how they do business in a regulatory, economic and political environment that could be fundamentally more constraining. Not all institutions will succeed in doing this in the years ahead. Those that do will find ways of making this new environment work for them, capitalizing on their inherent resilience, agility and efficiency.” said Bhavin Shah, Partner, Financial Advisory, Deloitte, Middle East.

Jacques Visser, Chief Legal Officer, DIFC Authority, commented: “It is encouraging to see the high level of attendance from many industry leaders at this year’s Regulatory & Financial Crime Conference, a clear indication of the commitment to tackling financial crime in the region and beyond. As the leading financial hub for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region, DIFC is aligned with industry efforts and we continue in our drive to maintain high standards. There is always room for improvement in combatting risks and it is critical that the industry continues to engage in order to help establish more effective ways of disrupting financial crime.”

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Gain financial regulation qualification online

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Gain financial regulation qualification online  

Warwick Business School in partnership with the Bank of England are delighted to offer two online specialist Postgraduate Awards, which are perfect for anyone working in financial regulation to evidence their professional development.

  • Financial Conduct, Leadership & Ethics – Starting in February 2020
    You will debate and cover questions such as how do financiers judge ethical questions in financial markets? What are the implications for regulators and for clients?
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    You will develop a comprehensive understanding around financial regulation by looking at topics such as its tools, benefit and practical application.

Studied online over a period seventeen weeks, you will gain a detailed knowledge of the subject, learn industry best practice and gain a qualification to evidence your understanding.

The wider Global Central Banking & Financial Regulation qualification offers three start dates and four qualification levels.

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COVID-19: Dealing with fraudulent applications for the Bounce Back Loan Scheme

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COVID-19: Dealing with fraudulent applications for the Bounce Back Loan Scheme 3

By Ed Lloyd, EVP Global Head of Sales, Encompass

The COVID-19 pandemic is still having a devastating impact on businesses and the economy in the UK, and access to funds, loans and financial schemes remains a top priority for business. In many cases, this kind of support is what has helped businesses to stay afloat so far.

The Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) is just one example. Announced in April, it was designed to help small firms unable to access other forms of support survive the crisis by providing quicker access to funds, through a number of accredited lenders across the UK, with the government, at the time, providing guarantees around the repaying of agreed loans, provided they were evidenced to be legitimate

However, since then, the scheme has been plagued by fraudulent applications, with opportunistic criminals seizing the opportunity to strike. As a result, it has been estimated that up to 60% of the loans may never be repaid, with the National Audit Office (NAO) saying taxpayers could lose as much as £26bn, from fraud, organised crime or default.

Bounce Back Loan Scheme corrupted by fraud

Since the Chancellor extended all connected loans, with businesses now having to pay loans back in January, there have been rising concerns about the potential risks. As mentioned, the scale of fraud has been significant, with criminal gangs exploiting the situation.

And, during this time, we have seen that false applications in the UK have gone almost entirely unreported, with less than 0.5 per cent of the expected cases being flagged to the police. The latest figures from the national Action Fraud service show that only 176 reports of fraud citing a government-backed lending scheme have been received this year, which is extremely concerning. Of these, 95 were crime reports, detailing offences that had taken place, and the remaining 81 were information reports, about attempted crimes. However, the National Audit Office reported that the Bounce Back Loan Scheme alone had delivered £36.9bn to more than 1.2 million applicants.

Even the Cabinet Office has warned that fraud losses from these loans were likely to be significantly above the norm – suggesting at least £1.85bn had been claimed dishonestly

The impact this issue is having on businesses and businesspeople alike cannot be underestimated, as the government refuses to pay back any fraudulent loans, and victims are even having to fight to prove they did not make loans applications.

We are now a matter of weeks away from when businesses will have to begin to repay banks, and they are finding themselves under increasing pressure. A particular concern is that, because of the high levels of fraud in applications, some of the money used to pay back loans may be the proceeds of crime – and banks need to be able to identify this risk.

To do this properly, it is likely they would have to conduct Know Your Customer (KYC) activity on loan beneficiaries again, and to a higher standard than before, in order to ensure dirty money is not flowing into their institutions. We know current manually driven KYC processes are not time effective and they would struggle to do this correctly in the timeframe as a result.

How are criminals doing it?

Lenders have been under pressure from the government to approve these loans within 48 hours, which doesn’t give them the time they require to conduct the level of KYC checks and measures needed to identify any risks or fraudulent activity. This problem is exacerbated by the high level of demand for the scheme – and, worryingly, there is just no telling how many of these applications are indeed fraudulent.

The Solution

Whilst it is true that the entire process needs a head-to-toe structural review, there is one core topic that must be highlighted here, and that is the benefits of RegTech.

RegTech, and specifically intelligent process automation, allows banks to perform comprehensive due diligence checks in order to make sure a company, or individual, is who they say they are, and this can be vital in helping businesses cope in times of  unprecedented demand, when they are working to tight deadlines.

It can take the burden away from analysts within the banks by doing the heavy lifting when it comes to carrying out proper KYC due diligence, ensuring an efficient and effective process. The right software should also be able to provide corporation dates and financial audits, as well as spot and flag suspicious applications, history, or activity.

We cannot forget that COVID-19 has led to a dramatic increase in other forms of financial crime, with many criminals using its guise to trick unknowing consumers into sophisticated cyber scams, which have been designed to look like legitimate government schemes or financial aid services. What’s more, the increased pressure on banking services means the fight against fraud and money laundering in the UK has become more important but, in many ways, more challenging. Financial services institutions must ensure they invest in trustworthy and secure onboarding processes if they are to have a truly meaningful KYC programme.

It is crucial that they make use of the solutions at their disposal to ensure swift approval and compliance, and avoid falling foul of regulation. Using advanced technologies such as automation is a solution to a significant problem, and its importance is only underlined during these times of pressure and uncertainty.

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Data Unions, fisherfolk and DeFi

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Data Unions, fisherfolk and DeFi 4

By Ruby Short, Streamr

In the fintech world it seems every month there’s a new trend or terminology to get acquainted with. From just learning about cryptocurrency a few years ago, to the crazy boom markets of 2017-18, the market has now moved on to DeFi, or Decentralised Finance to those less in the know.

It’s a trend which is gathering momentum, too – $275m of crypto collateral was invested in the DeFi economy in early 2019, but by February of this year it hit $1 billion, and by the end of July this number had risen to $4 billion.

According to crypto exchange Binance, DeFi refers to “a movement that aims to create an open-source, permissionless and transparent financial service ecosystem that is available to everyone and operates without any central authority.” Essentially it gives full asset control to those who use it, whether this is through peer-to-peer models or DeFi applications.

These apps, known as DApps, run on a blockchain network meaning they’re not controlled by a single authority. And as they are also Open Source, they are publicly available – characteristics that make transactions quicker, more affordable and more efficient than their centralised counterparts, where data is stored on servers managed by one authority (think traditional banks).

So why is DeFi getting so much attention?

DeFi is exciting for many because it gives more people more control over their money. Where much of the financial sector is traditionally centralised it inherits bias, thus restricting many people from their funds and what they can do with it.

With this approach, anyone can make investments or get into trading much more easily, and, most importantly, keep control in the hands of the user and not large corporations.

One of the preliminary benefits of this control is the improved visibility we gain over our financial data. In fact, any data we produce in general, whether online or through smart devices is predominantly controlled by giant centralised platforms such as Google and Facebook. In many cases users are unaware of where this is being sold on, or at least have been up until now.

As with DeFi and DApps, a way to decentralise this control has been introduced – in the form of Data Unions. A relatively new concept, this is a framework that enables individuals to bundle together their real-time data with others to create valuable insights which can be sold on, offering each the chance to earn revenue. It is helping businesses and individuals realise the value of the information they produce.

How does it work?

Our data on its own holds little value, but once bundled with multiple data sets from other people and sources and combined in a Data Union, it becomes an attractive set of insights to buyers who can use it to improve their market knowledge, product or service.

Data is shared through an app on the device or object via Streamr’s Data Union framework, a toolbox, which any developer or company can integrate into their existing products. It also allows individuals to choose which particular data types they share and monetise, and which they keep private.

This information then passes, encrypted, through the Streamr Network, to the Data Union where it’s bundled with others’ data for sale on the Marketplace – a process called crowdselling, which has the potential to generate unique data sets by incentivising trade directly from data producers.

What’s more, Data Unions can be set up to capture any form of data. For instance, a music streaming company could commission their own app where users could sell their listening and genre habits paired with their demographic info.

What has this got to do with DeFi?

Data Unions can help provide a means of DeFi direct to the people that need it most.

To break this down, a Data Union is beneficial because it enables any internet user to be paid for their data, which is unlike any data tax that has been proposed by many politicians. And, the advantage of a DeFi solution is that anyone can get paid from it because the finances are no longer dependent on their jurisdiction, but on which products they are using. Putting these together can have endless benefits.

We’re already seeing this happen, with a framework being used to improve the lives of financially marginalised groups. Tracey is a blockchain enabled Data Union working in partnership with WWF.

The application incentivises Filipino fisherfolk to record their catch and trade data digitally through direct data monetisation via the Streamr Marketplace. This data makes the first mile of their seafood products through the supply chain, traceable. With regional fish stocks declining, accurate catch yield data is a desirable insight for third party members such as retailers and final buyers.

The benefits of this model are twofold. Many fisherfolk in the Philippines are unbanked, meaning they don’t have a bank account. Trading this data gives them access to finance and loans previously out of reach, changing them and their family’s livelihoods. It also enables a self-sustaining ecosystem that captures accurate traceability data and helps these areas monitor their overfishing levels for more sustainable fishing.

What does this mean for us for the future?

We’re seeing a lot of momentum building around all forms of online decentralization,and the potential is huge. Over the coming years we will see these systems become ever more integrated into the existing internet stack, which will profoundly impact our possibilities online. Soon, it will become normal to take part in the internet’s data economy.

We see internet users becoming members of several Data Unions and have a range of different options to choose from that best suits them and their data sets. Personal data monetisation will no longer be a privacy issue we’re all suffering under, but rather a question of whether we want to sell our data or not. Users will have the freedom to choose for themselves if they want to sell their data or not and ethical data sharing will become the norm.

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