adverse media

Advanced Adverse Media Screening & Monitoring for South African Banking Group

Challenge

South Africa has strengthened its anti-money laundering (AML) regulations in recent times, but it is still losing between $10 billion and $25 billion a year in illicit financial flows. In 2020 inter-governmental regulatory body the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) reviewed South Africa’s compliance with AML rules and, in the same year, guidance from the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) recommended that financial institutions look for adverse information about their clients from public or commercial sources.

A large banking group based in South Africa were looking to implement an innovative transformation programme to deliver world leading anti-financial crime capabilities. Part of this successful programme involved seeking a best-in-class Adverse Media Screening Solution to integrate within their FCC ecosystem and operating model. 

The bank needed unparalleled global news coverage and a comprehensive African news footprint. They also required the ability to conduct both user and system initiated adverse media searches across the entire banking group across over 10 countries.

The banking group also wanted to avoid common challenges when dealing with adverse media screening. This includes reviewing and validating high volumes of data – reducing the number of false positives and accelerating entity resolution.

Solution

Arachnys delivered over 13,000 risk curated news sources that the bank could automatically and intelligently screen the entire banking group customers (over 9m) against for adverse media hits. Arachnys acquires content from over 23,000 open source websites, including over 2,000 from the African Continent (1,300+ news sites and 800+ reputable public sources). Over 300 of these are South African – with every source curated for its value in surfacing risk.

The solution was designed to allow complex research processes to be standardized and digitized in a single working environment, while API’s allow for the seamless transfer of information between Arachnys and existing banking architecture.

Some of the core solution elements include:

  • Digitalization of customer policy: Research and process instructions are ‘codified’ to align with regulatory requirements and guarantee process adherence in-line with global policies.
  • Robotic process automation: Configured policy steps are automatically searched in-line with policy, with information surfaced sequentially to make sure analysts prioritise decision making over data collection.
  • Primary, external, and third-party content acquisition: Multiple search technologies retrieve information from unstructured websites, structured data providers, and API’s. Users are presented with everything they need to see in a single user-friendly interface.
  • Filtering and prioritisation capabilities: Multiple features within the system enable control and refinement of search results to drive efficiency. These include Boolean operators, jurisdictional and source faceting, risk-relevancy algorithms and date range capabilities.
  • Delta search and monitoring capability: Arachnys will continuously recognize, evaluate, and analyze material changes and risk-relevant events to proactively surface review tasks and enable an ‘always-on, always-current’ view of an entity.
  • Automatic evidencing: Configurable drop-down menus to instantly tag and comment on relevant and irrelevant hits.
  • Automated reporting: As hits are ‘tagged’, Arachnys auto-builds an investigation summary, which can be downloaded as a stand-alone PDF extract or sent automatically back to internal systems via API.

Results

The Adverse Media Screening project was delivered within 3 months of contract signature, providing a standardized solution with a single working environment for 8 business units across 10 jurisdictions. To date, approximately 200 users are benefitting from the access to high-quality adverse media data, results filtering and refinement, and automated evidencing and audit trail curation delivered by the Arachnys solution, with plans to expand the offering to an additional user cohort over the next month.

“Arachnys’ expertise in curating the local and international content we need for adverse media screening made them an ideal technology partner, and their machine learning tools also boost our operational efficiency – reducing the time spent assessing alerts and re-investing our time for high-risk activities. Arachnys is helping our bank realise its transformation programmes aim to deliver a best-in-class anti-financial crime capability.”

— Head of FCC, Banking Group