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Regulated Firms that Don’t Trust Electronic Identification Verification Risk Financial Crime

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More than 36% of people in regulated firms who ‘can’t trust’ electronic identity verification technology and instead rely on manual checks are leaving their doors open to financial crime, according to research by anti-money laundering specialist SmartSearch.

This statistic, from SmartSearch’s 2023 annual survey of 500 compliance stakeholders across financial, accountancy, property and legal services, has doubled since the company’s 2022 survey, when 18% percent of people said they couldn’t trust the technology.

Focusing on the financial services sector, the survey shows 40% of compliance stakeholders can’t trust electronic ID verification technology.

“This indicates a significant dip in trust in electronic ID verification technology, despite its recommendation as part of the due diligence process in the Money Laundering and Terrorist Finance Act 2020,” says Fraser Mitchell, technical director at SmartSearch. “Many regulated firms may be unaware of this advice, hence the mistrust. Meantime, criminal gangs are washing billions through the UK’s financial systems. It’s a real concern.”

Looking at manual methods of identification, 87% of survey respondents in regulated firms are naively confident that they could identify a fake document such as a passport, driving licence or utility bill. Looking at the financial sector, the research shows 95% of people believing they could manually spot a fake ID, despite forgery risks.

Nicola Gifford, general counsel at SmartSearch, comments: “This is our third Electronic Verification Uncovered campaign. Our objective is to address common misconceptions among regulated firms, with a view to lowering the barrier to businesses adopting electronic verification as standard practice.”

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