St George signals money laundering, fraud assault

St George Bank plans to acquire a customer relationship management-style platform that would allow investigators to better track potentially illegal transactions in an effort to crack down on fraud and money laundering. The bank said a security partner for the project, which will offer investigators a single view of data from systems governing activities such as transactions and customer acquisition, is likely to be selected by Christmas.

St George Bank plans to acquire a customer relationship management-style platform that would allow investigators to better track potentially illegal transactions in an effort to crack down on fraud and money laundering.

The bank said a security partner for the project, which will offer investigators a single view of data from systems governing activities such as transactions and customer acquisition, is likely to be selected by Christmas.

The project -- already on the bank's books as part of its anti-fraud program -- has received a boost from new anti-money laundering (AML) legislation due to be introduced to parliament next year, St George chief manager, security and investigations, Mark Hunt, told ZDNet Australia.

"We've been looking at [this platform] for some time from a fraud perspective," Hunt said. "But the AML legislation came at the opportune time to roll this out together.

"We're looking at an integrated alert platform [with] everything running to one central point, enterprise-wide," he added. "Bit of a dream, but we reckon it can be done."

The platform could tie into St George's data warehouse to utilise data from call centres, Hunt said.

Anti-money laundering legislation requires banks to more stringently monitor customer transactions to help prevent the financing of terrorism.

Hunt said the new system would be closely related to CRM software that conducts data analytics and behavioural modelling, but be heavily customised to detect fraud and money laundering.

At present, alerts are only registered at St George on a per-product or per-channel basis, making the process of detecting potentially illicit behaviour relatively cumbersome.

"You may get an alert for money laundering...a credit card alert. It may say 'suspect transaction'," Hunt said.

"[With the new system], you're going to see every alert for that customer".

He said point solutions such as credit card monitoring systems were "excellent" for managing fraud but were severely limited in monitoring money laundering.

"In money laundering, we need to look at the relationship in greater depth. We just can't look at the credit card system alone."

Under the new system, card activity could be evaluated in combination with activity on systems such as those covering transactions and lending, according to Hunt.

"AML is much more about how you behave across a range of products," Hunt said, adding that the industry had progressed from cash-based to activity-based monitoring.

He said the new system would also link directly to St George's existing case management investigation software, which alerts investigators to suspicious cases.

"The next phase of that, which is already built now, is the investigation system, which records the actual [alert] events and feeds straight into the Basel system."

With fraud monitoring being a critical requirement under the Basel Accord covering banks' risk management and capital obligations, St George plans to integrate the new platform with its Basel compliance systems.

Hunt also revealed St George was reassessing its risk management procedures to comply with the anti money-laundering legislation.

"We're going through a very robust process of identifying those [high-risk] products and assessing those risks," Hunt said.

He flagged improved customer identification as one challenge of the new anti money-laundering legislation, pointing out that St George was investigating ways of boosting its customer acquisition profiling and behavioural modelling techniques.

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