How a paperless future can end criminal activity

When the final season of Netflix’s hit thriller Money Heist or La Casa de Papel released in December 2021, viewers were eagerly watching to see if “The Professor” and his group of criminal brains could pull off their latest heist. form the bank. from Spain. But while these small screen crimes are certainly entertaining, the story echoes a worrying real-life trend of criminals increasingly using printed paper to hide their crimes.

As the Pandora Papers recently demonstrated, money launderers and fraudsters everywhere hide their crimes in huge piles of paperwork, like showing fake bank statements to time-constrained and unskilled employees. in fraud detection.

In the old days, these criminals could be caught just by following the paper trail. But too often now, that trail leads investigators in the wrong direction – or winds for so long that they get lost along the way.

Why? Because every day, financial, legal, transportation and professional services companies are buried in huge volumes of paperwork, slowing down processes, frustrating customers and making it harder than ever to find the truth.

This poses all kinds of problems for businesses that go beyond the immediate financial risk of fraud. Discrepancies in the data can have far-reaching implications – and even lead someone to sell their own home on their behalf. With such high stakes, it is clear that there are few more important issues to a company’s reputation.

The solution lies in a radical overhaul of our relationship with paperwork – a relationship that recognizes that while it may contain the truth, it can just as easily hide it. And realizes that by being selective about the data we share and eliminating unnecessary form filling, we can make professional services not only faster but also more secure.

Saying “Bella Ciao” to the paperwork

Requesting hard copies of bank statements from multiple different accounts is time consuming, slow, exposes businesses to reputational and regulatory risk, and leads to poor customer experiences.

But there is no need, especially now that the technology exists, to facilitate a shapeless future. A system in which centralized and automated data collection powers rapid online verification that shows proof and source of funds as well as account verification, providing businesses with a simple and easily verified path to compliance.

These automated reports also have the potential to highlight regular entries and exits, provide a calendar of account balances, and flag any large payments so that irregular activity can be identified for further inspection.

Ultimately, this means compliance officers in legal and professional departments can better perform necessary AML checks, with less time spent on time-consuming tasks such as data collection and verification.

However, the risks presented to companies, such as transfer companies, that do not have a solid source of verification of funds or do not verify accounts accurately are immense. A liability insurance claim can cause significant financial damage to a business, as insurers want to see evidence of a business’s processes to give them confidence in key areas of risk.

Additionally, the brand breaches that businesses face if they are unable to identify specific cases of money laundering could be enough to put even healthy businesses out of business. Shifting to a formless future eases the reliance on paperwork and removes these fundamental risks for a business.

Beyond improving risk and security management, automated data collection will dramatically improve the customer experience by allowing customers to fill out forms natively for the user, whether on their phone. or their computer.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s simple. This is a substantial change in the way we think about paperwork – something that has been central to our culture for thousands of years. Before we get to a completely paperless world, there are a few hurdles to overcome.

Obstacles to the overthrow of the House of Criminal Paper

One of these obstacles is the growing prevalence and anxiety surrounding cyber attacks. Businesses that are already resistant to new technologies have seen what is happening with cyber attacks and have closed their doors to further digitalization.

The flip side of this coin is a persistent reluctance of customers to share their data. This is understandable in an age of popular rhetoric about the dangers of data sharing.

To cope with these two problems, maximum transparency is needed to move to a paperless world. It’s important that every layer of permissions is passed and that companies make it clear to customers that their data is in their hands. They’ll know what data is going where, who the person they’re sharing it with, and why they’re sharing it.

For small businesses, which do not have immediate access to the right knowledge and resources, time is also a barrier. The ability to look beyond today and focus on what is happening tomorrow is often seen as a luxury. Instead, they will often only make significant changes when pushed by a regulator. And yet, then, it takes a specialized and strategic thinker to make the necessary changes, which they often do not have to deal with with their limited human resources. This is when outsourcing digital transformation to third-party vendors can really count, as technology can not only speed up tedious processes, but also help businesses collect only the data they need, which means there are fewer stacks of paper to sift through.

Stop the heist

As Money Heist’s show draws to a close, businesses around the world must look to a shapeless future to prevent criminals from hiding behind the paper trail.

When done correctly, the benefits of a shapeless future such as improved safety, a smoother customer experience, and a happy regulator can help businesses deal with serious negative consequences, such as professional liability insurance, brand damage, or regulatory fines. Stepping away from forms will also prevent money launderers and fraudsters from hiding behind paperwork.

To become shapeless, we have to make sure that we have done the leg work. It starts by ensuring that day-to-day processes like signing and submitting forms are digitally enabled, allowing customers to deliver their data online securely and easily. Benefit Open banking technology to create a formless future means businesses can transform the way they request, prepare, and verify customer financial information, and ultimately move toward a paperless, time-rich, and proof-of-the-wall future. of crime that can more easily prevent a burglary of money.


About the Author: Tom Lyes, Legal and Real Estate Manager at Armalytix.

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