ePay Summit: An Interview with Christos Ttiniozou Director, iSPIRAL
Tell us about iSPIRAL and your role.
iSPIRAL was the outcome of envisioning a financial-crime free business world.
Our story spans over 14 years in which we positioned ourselves as a leading regulatory technology provider.
To achieve the goals set, we adopted an open innovation approach, enabling us to get insight into the latest technologies within the regulatory technology sector.
With such technological prowess, iSPIRAL managed to develop numerous breakthrough solutions and helped hundreds of firms in sectors such as Banking, Investment, forex, gaming & gambling, PSPs, Insurance, accounting and even governmental agencies among many others.
The latest addition to our solutions is called RegTek+, a complete Client Lifecycle Management, KYC & AML Solution that acts as a statement in the industry and aims to present what the future of regulatory technology solutions will look like.
My role in the firm is Managing director which implies the overlooking of all activities from innovation, and product management to business development activities.
I am continuously exploring new technologies and work on maintaining the high standards iSPIRAL currently demonstrates.
My daily schedule is filled with client and partner meetings in which we work together in revolutionising the way AML and KYC processes are being executed.
What are the key trends in risk and compliance for 2021?
2021 is an unpredictable year so far and for that reason, organisations need to find ways to adapt. In that case, a compliance department needs to include practices that will help it stay up to date with the latest news and regulations.
For that reason, automated approaches to risk and compliance saw a rise this year. Automation is the key here, and incorporating advanced rules enhanced by machine learning is becoming a must.
Automation can help firms with resource-intensive tasks such as risk management, identity management, compliance checks, transaction monitoring and regulatory reporting.
During 2020, we saw an increase in AML fines that are related to the inability of performing transaction monitoring. Machine learning has already become a tool in helping with this complex process and solutions that can process myriads of transactions while offering real-time risk scoring based on transaction behavioural analytics are trending.
Lastly, since the covid-19 outbreak, we saw a great client migration towards digital onboarding. This phenomenon is only becoming more evident with the passage of time and in 2021, having a seamless onboarding process is more of a necessity than a trend.
COVID-19 pandemic redefine the risk landscape, what are challenges do you see on the horizon?
First and foremost, there is more need for digital onboarding and this outbreak surfaced issues when executing it as firms were not prepared. When onboarding sheer volumes of clients, time and accuracy are crucial. Companies that were still using legacy or outdated processes found themselves unable to keep up with this situation.
If the onboarding time is long and your procedures cannot handle volumes, then it will create an unpleasant journey that can significantly reduce client acquisition and profits.
By not being able to properly assess and verify the clients onboarded, you set your company at risk of receiving unwanted fines.
Another great challenge is the increase in financial crime as fraudsters used this vulnerability to emerge. This situation calls for more efforts in areas like transaction monitoring, transaction screening and risk assessment.
Companies are challenged to upgrade their fraud detection capabilities so they can overcome this threat. Last year, the monetary value of anti-money laundering fines rocketed: up by over 26% on 2019’s fines, and totalling a cool $10.4 billion and if drastic measures are not taken by financial institutions, in 2021 we can witness a new record.
What are the trends that will define the future of merchant payments?
Surely, the demand for frictionless experiences is increasing. In the case of online payments, frictionless experiences minimise the barriers involved in the checkout process. The end result reduces the steps needed to buy goods and in turn the waiting time.
Being able to effectively analyse the data linked to payments can provide information capable of improving the overall process and raise the awareness needed.
Also, since technology enables numerous digital payment methods, enhancing your portfolio of available payment solutions, adds up to the overall experience.
Another trend seen is the collaboration of major corporations that maintain well-established payments practices with newly introduced firms that offer solutions to threats. This form of open innovation is beneficial for both sides since it reduces time and cost at the same time.
What three things should merchants do today to reduce their risk of fraud?
The first thing is for merchants to incorporate the latest technologies in risk management and fraud prevention. Businesses that are using outdated fraud detection methods are at high risk of becoming victims of financial crime and receive unwanted fines that can severely affect them.
Employing a solution that comes with machine learning, advanced analytics and access to global databases will significantly up a company’s compliance game. Such solutions can help you automate all processes, minimising the risk and accurately detecting criminal activity. That way, compliance activities that were viewed as challenging will become routine tasks and you will be able to allocate your resources in other processes.
Secondly, merchants need to always stay up-to-date with the latest news and regulations. Information is power and the incorporation of cutting-edge tools can enable merchants to always stay in line with the latest regulations, which occur more often than ever. Such tools will also provide merchants with the latest news that are affecting them and their sector.
Moreover, merchants must invest in upgrading the transaction monitoring process. Criminals evolved their game so should businesses. Newer transaction monitoring tools allow for fraud detection via behavioural analytics as they detect any suspicious transaction and client activity in real-time.
Since mobile devices are now handling an increasing volume of transactions, the question of security has become paramount to businesses looking to step into e-commerce. How to ensure the security of sensitive data is essential to winning the trust of customers and building a solid reputation?
This trend was an outcome of continuous technological advancements and enables a limitless potential for companies operating digitally. Unfortunately, the same technologies are being used by fraudsters, making data protection a huge challenge.
A starting point is to educate clients to use only official mobile and web apps to share data and perform transactions. Using apps that are found in market spaces like google and the app store or are downloadable by the official site of the firm is mandatory.
But firms need to act as well. API level security is one way and can encrypt sensitive information and provide authentication implying that complex algorithms are employed.
A great way to bring safety to transactions is end-to-end encryption. This approach leads to safer transactions as it avoids cyber threats, it performs numerous checks and tests enhancing safety measures.
Incorporating a multi-factor authentication feature is not only essential for securing the data of clients, but it adds to the feeling of security that clients receive. Techniques like one-time password and fingerprint detection instantly add another defence layer.
Another approach is to offer real-time notifications either via the platform, SMS or even email, so clients will get informed when they are under attack. That way an organisation can lead its customers to take the necessary steps in avoiding any unwanted situation.
Also, going paperless will not only contribute to mitigating global warming, but it can also enhance the safety measures of mobile users. Digitalised documents can be accessed anywhere, but are easier to store, monitor and update.
With the increased capabilities of machine learning and advanced analytics, companies can now adopt behavioural analytics tools to their risk and fraud monitoring detection processes. Such technologies can provide instant feedback based on suspicious transaction behaviour and help you detect criminals.
What is you advise to create effective E-commerce AML and compliance safeguards.
Stop using outdated compliance methods!
Companies that want to plan ahead and stay away from fraud, need to embrace the technological change and use it as an enhancement to their compliance processes.
Incorporating a regulatory technology solution will have a positive impact as it will help them automate all processes and minimise time and cost.
It will enable them to stay in-line with regulations at a multi-jurisdiction scale and perform accurate risk monitoring, assessment and fraud detection.
What does the future hold for i-Spiral in terms of expansion plans, tech advancements, or possible partnerships?
Our vision is to fight financial crime on a global scale and this means that we will not stop expanding until we achieve that! We already are an established RegTech provider in Europe with a client portfolio that speaks for itself. This led us to acquire valuable insights and knowledge in helping corporations within the financial sector. For that reason, we want to use this knowledge to help more firms within the European continent while expanding to global markets such as south-east Asia and Africa.
Due to our business model and the nature of the regulatory technology market, we are always in search of new technologies that will enable us to enhance our platforms and help our client to create and maintain an exceptional compliance culture. We are currently working with machine learning, data enhancement tools and intelligent analytics and are looking forward to the next big thing!
Partnerships are a huge aspect of iSPIRAL. We are currently partnering with international firms like Advapay, Logicom and NETinfo as well as giants like Microsoft. This year alone we managed to partner with major providers in key international markets and we are looking forward to more vendors/consultants who share the same vision with us!
Finally, what would you like to learn from the EPAY EUROPE participants this year?
As iSPIRAL, we are excited to be part of this major European event of which the participants are some of the biggest corporations in their respective sectors.
Hearing the thoughts of such knowledgeable professionals will definitely make for an event that no one within the payments sector should miss. Therefore, I am fascinated to learn what the future of online payments holds and how technologies like machine learning and AO will lead the way!
Christos Ttiniozou will be joining EPAY Europe as a speaker, register for EPAY Europe 15 April Registration here.