Technological solutions and customer awareness are two crucial aspects of combating the rising incidents of financial crimes across the country, said Federal Banking Ombudsman Sirajuddin Aziz. Speaking as a guest of honour at the conference” Financial Crimes in the Digital Age” organized by Eastnets and managed by Dellsons Associates recently, he said the banks should continue to upgrade their systems towards strengthening the data security of their customers, besides bringing reforms to plug the loopholes in the practices and mechanisms that made the data of customers accessible to white collar criminals.
He mentioned that victims of financial crimes in Pakistan are highly qualified, ironically, as against fraudsters who are less educated but tactical in deceiving the public into getting their credentials to steal money from bank accounts; therefore, the need for awareness among bankers and customers of banks is high and ongoing.
Asaan Bank Accounts are frequently reported to be used for fraudulent activities as organized criminals exploit this facility for their ease, unfortunately, due to banks’ negligence in compliance with KYC of customers, Federal Banking Ombudsman said.
Nadeem Hussain, Chairman of Pakistan Fintech Network, said the banks should have a prime responsibility to build a culture of awareness on data privacy within the system and then among customers on a priority basis with investment in technology and education.
He pointed out that the personal details of customers, including OTPs, are easily compromised in this digital age being available on the dark web, which could be protected as banks must adopt new software and applications and customers should build habits to change their passwords again and again.
Hazem Mulhim, Founder and CEO of Eastnets, said the fourth industrial revolution is emerging in the world, with Artificial Intelligence transforming every industry, including the financial sector.
Financial institutions need Rs. 400 billion worldwide to revamp their system by acquiring cybersecurity technology and capacity-building the workforce. Organized financial crimes are increasing worldwide constituting 2% of the global GDP.
The banking regulator imposed huge penalties on financial institutions for failure to comply with regulations to prevent the loss of money at the hands of criminals. Still, regulatory measures are not enough to stop the menace.
Pakistan is an emerging and important market for the financial sector, which keeps its system updated with advanced technological solutions to maintain its position on the whitelist of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Eastnets CEO said.
The conference also hosted various panel discussions on challenges in digital banking, banking compliance, and anti-money laundering. Moderators of the sessions were Salim Thobani, EVP/ Head Foreign Exchange Monitoring Unit-Meezan Bank Limited and Syed Faraz Anwer, Partner Business & Risk Consulting- A.F.Ferguson & Co. The event was also addressed by Lubna Farooq Malik, Director General-Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU), Atala Nijmeh, Principal Product Manager- Eastnets, Hassan Zebdeh Financial Crime Advisor & Sr.Product Development Manager- Eastnets.