Automation in AML: Almost 80% of businesses now using electronic checks, but trust remains low

One in five (21%) business decision-makers say they do not trust any of their anti-money laundering (AML) checks to be automated, despite this year’s lockdown preventing most physical checks.

The latest findings from leading AML software provider, SmartSearch, show a distinct lack of trust in electronic checks and verification, with 47% of senior business figures showing some level of distrust. While adoption of automated checks became commonplace during the UK’s first lockdown, a surprising 23% of businesses still have no automated processes in place when it comes to AML.

The findings are particularly prevalent as the nation braces for another lockdown, which will prevent many physical checks from taking place. With the figures in mind, SmartSearch is urging businesses to consider better automation processes to improve efficiencies and accuracy, to better navigate an ever-challenging business landscape.

Commenting on the findings, John Dobson, CEO at SmartSearch, said:“When lockdown hit first time, businesses suffered when it came to their AML checks. These need to be carried out by law, so when physical checks became impossible, it created a lot of issues for those who weren’t already automating at least some of their processes.

“In spite of this, we can see now that 23% of businesses still have no automation in place when it comes to AML checks. Lockdown or not, introducing automation in your business is going to create some major efficiencies and free up time to focus on other business priorities.”

When asked which of the standard customer authentication checks they would trust to be automated, RCA (relatives and close associations) 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. RCA (Relatives and close associates) – 14.6%

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

Advising businesses on what to consider when it comes to electronic verification, John added:“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.

“There’s been so much innovation in the AML sector and we have recently launched our market-leading TripleCheck service, 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.”

SmartSearch launched its TripleChecksystem earlier this year, providing businesses with the most robust AML solution available. The system is a pioneering new electronic KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML solution that combines innovative technology, including facial recognition and digital fraud checks, to create the most powerful AML platform on the market.

For more information about SmartSearch or its TripleCheck service, visit: