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Fintechs and AML: Striking the right balance

Refinitiv – in collaboration with global consultancy FINTRAIL – conducted a series of interviews with experts in different fintech firms to better understand the anti-money laundering (AML) challenges currently at play in the fintech arena, the trends that shaped 2022 and what this evolving space can expect in the year ahead.

  1. A new white paper explores the biggest AML challenges facing fintech (such as in online fraud, digital assets, cryptocurrency and sanctions), the main trends of 2022 and looks forward to 2023.
  2. How do industry players strike the balance between meeting customer expectations, mitigating financial crime and remaining compliant with regulatory obligations?
  3. According to the findings of the white paper, expectations for 2023 in the fintech industry include further evolution of regulations and broader community cooperation to combat the threat of AML.

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A new white paper from Refinitiv explores on-the-ground insights gained in the evolving fintech space.

Interviews conducted with experts in different fintech firms across a range of geographies drilled down into three key areas: current AML challenges, industry trends and what to expect in 2023.

In the dynamic, agile fintech space, emerging technology is the lifeblood of continued innovation. The caveat, however, is that an evolving financial crime threat means the same technology is harnessed by bad actors seeking to engage in illicit activity.

Against this backdrop, interviewees talked about the real-world challenges fintechs face in the AML space, where striking the right balance between meeting customer expectations for seamless, engaging experiences and gathering enough data and insights to comply with stringent AML regulations, has become a persistent challenge.

Read the white paper – AML challenges for fintechs: Insights for the future

Remaining agile and innovative while balancing compliance requirements is the common goal all are striving towards

Let’s look at the top challenges, trends and expectations called out by those we spoke to.

On-the-ground insights


The top challenges fintechs faced in 2022 were online fraud, digital asset and cryptocurrency challenges, and sanctions.

The fintechs we interviewed said online fraud was their primary pain point and highlighted application fraud as a persistent threat. Bad actors may use impersonation or synthetic identities and employ powerful technology to produce counterfeit documents.

On the digital asset and crypto front, interviewees shared their thoughts about changes in global crypto legislation and the quick pace of product and tech change within the industry. Our paper calls out a “growing need for all fintechs to consider the risks and exposure associated with the more widespread adoption of digital assets”.

Turning to sanctions, the burden of keeping pace with the sheer volume of both Russia-related and other sanctions that were implemented in 2022 has been significant. Compliance teams have been challenged by the volume and inherent complexity of sanctions, both of which have impacted budgets and resource allocation.

Sanctions are our highest priority and receive dedicated 24/7/365 attention

Trends in fintech

Five key factors are shaping fintechs today:

Technology: Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are increasingly important tools when it comes to identifying financial crime, particularly in fast-paced environments with volumes of transactions.

Firms must, however, remember the importance of “explainability” when introducing new technology – they must be able to explain what data is used to reach different conclusions and why the results can be trusted.

Regulators worldwide are increasingly expecting larger and complex firms to use technology to address money laundering and terrorist financing threats

Data: While technology needs data to function, our interviewees said that asking for too much information can negatively impact the customer experience. Too little can open up opportunities for criminals to evade AML controls.

Talent: Alongside innovative tech and robust data, the human element is indispensable. Interviewees said that attracting, developing and retaining top talent is “instrumental to scaling effectively in any market or economy”. Financial crime compliance roles are, in fact, considered recession-proof.

Governance: Effective governance is also prominent on the radar for many fintechs. Governance models must, however, be agile and able to adapt and change over time.

Efficiency: New efficiencies continue to shape the fintech space, for example allowing the integration of specific data points alongside behavioural biometrics to enable dynamic risk management. By comparing incoming data with historical behaviour, firms can pinpoint suspicious activity more easily.  

Expectations for 2023

Our paper goes on to unpack some key expectations for 2023, highlighting that:

  • Regulations will continue to evolve. Those interviewed see opportunities for greater collaboration and increased engagement between the fintech community and regulators.
  • Learning from other fintechs will be on the radar. Interviewees suggest that AML teams should leverage wider community experience and expertise. There will also be opportunities for more public-private and private-private collaboration.
  • Ensuring AML compliance without damaging the customer experience will remain a delicate balancing act. Technology holds the key to enhanced agility and speed that can empower fintechs to meet regulatory obligations and protect the seamless, engaging experiences that customers expect.

Continuing on a growth trajectory

As the fintech industry continues on its growth trajectory, three core elements – robust data, leading-edge technology and invaluable human expertise – can offer tangible help to firms at any stage of the fintech journey.

In addition, greater collaboration, both within the fintech community and between fintechs, governments and regulators can offer substantial opportunities for all stakeholders and can help industry players strike that crucial balance between meeting customer expectations, mitigating financial crime and remaining compliant with regulatory obligations.

New Refinitiv and FINTRAIL white paper: AML challenges for fintechs: insights for the future


How do industry players, mitigate financial crime and remain compliant with regulatory obligations?

Expectations for 2023 in the fintech industry include further evolution of regulations and broader community cooperation to combat the threat of AML.