What is ongoing AML monitoring and why you need it

Money laundering is a significant global problem, and it becomes increasingly complex each year. As criminals become more tech-savvy and globally connected, financial institutions face unprecedented challenges in maintaining effective anti-money laundering (AML) procedures.

According to a Financial Times report, 2022 saw a 50% spike in financial penalties handed down to institutions for failing to combat financial crimes. The numbers are staggering—nearly $5 billion in fines were issued for violations related to anti-money laundering procedures, sanctions breaches, and lapses in Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols. The trend continued in 2023, with global enforcement fines rising by more than 30%. Notably, the United States accounted for 85% of these fines, underscoring the country’s stringent stance on financial compliance.

AML compliance requires closely examining accounts and transactions to spot any suspicious activity. In the past, conducting reviews at regular intervals was enough to identify and stop financial crimes. However, the advanced technology and complex strategies used by modern criminals require a more proactive approach.

Ongoing AML monitoring represents a shift from intermittent checks to a vigilant, real-time strategy. This allows financial institutions to anticipate and quickly adapt to emerging threats rather than simply reacting to them. The following guide examines the key components of ongoing AML monitoring, its primary challenges, and how an advanced software solution can help protect financial institutions. 

The key components of ongoing AML monitoring

Effective ongoing AML monitoring requires a blend of advanced technology and strategic processes. The key components typically include:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) enhance the system’s ability to detect patterns and anomalies that may indicate suspicious activity. AI and ML’s ability to learn and evolve helps organizations keep pace with new tactics used by money launderers.
  • Big data analytics involves complex algorithms that analyze vast datasets, allowing institutions to uncover potential risks and gain insights into transactional behaviors. This enables more accurate decision-making.
  • Transaction monitoring systems analyze each transaction in real time, flagging those that fit specified criteria or patterns that may indicate suspicious activity.
  • Regulatory technology (RegTech) solutions automate and streamline the reporting process, risk management procedures, and adherence to the latest AML regulations. 

Conducting ongoing monitoring helps ensure regulatory compliance, allowing institutions to avoid potentially severe penalties while safeguarding their reputations. 

Effective business monitoring solutions also identify and mitigate financial crimes before they escalate, protecting the global financial system from the adverse effects of money laundering. In addition, ongoing monitoring can help businesses operating internationally adhere to necessary global and cross-border regulations. 

Addressing the Challenges of Ongoing AML Monitoring

While the transition to ongoing AML monitoring is a smart compliance move, it’s not without its challenges. From implementing complex technology integrations to managing the costs of system updates, institutions face several key hurdles. Understanding and addressing these issues is a necessary step in establishing a robust AML compliance solution.

Advanced technology integrations

Mixing new tech like AI and big data analytics with older systems can lead to compatibility and scalability issues. Keeping pace with rapid technological advancements requires a flexible approach and may need continuous investment in system upgrades.

Cost considerations

The financial burden of implementing and maintaining a comprehensive AML monitoring system can be substantial. Institutions must strike a balance between investing in this essential technology and the need to control operational expenses.  

Data privacy and security

Ensuring the security and privacy of customer data while maintaining accessibility for monitoring purposes poses unique challenges. The threat of data breaches requires strict adherence to information protection regulations. At the same time, detailed reviews of customer details and transactions are necessary for spotting suspicious activity. 

Regulatory compliance

AML regulations are constantly evolving, requiring institutions to stay informed of new requirements and standards. Institutions operating across multiple jurisdictions often face even greater regulatory challenges.  

Accuracy and efficiency

To ensure operational efficiency, organizations must minimize false positives without compromising their ability to flag genuinely suspicious activities. This requires institutions to continually assess and update risk parameters to match the latest methods used to disguise money laundering activities.

Human intervention

Even with advanced technologies, human intervention remains a critical component of effective AML monitoring. Institutions must ensure staff are well-trained and equipped to handle the complexities of ongoing monitoring. This may involve completing courses, certifications, and continuing education requirements. 

Streamline AML compliance with Markaaz

While these challenges can complicate AML compliance, partnering with Markaaz for your business monitoring services can help you stay ahead of the compliance curve without the complexity of building and maintaining a standalone system. 

Our advanced AML service offers daily checks of customer records against global sanction lists, law enforcement watchlists, and politically exposed persons (PEP) databases. Markaaz’s intuitive, user-friendly interface takes the complexity out of the AML screening process, offering a cost-effective, accurate, and efficient compliance option. 

Real-world applications of continuous AML monitoring 

While the benefits of ongoing AML monitoring are clear, it’s critical to understand how this technology applies to real-world scenarios. From everyday transactions to complex international dealings, continuous monitoring plays a vital role in identifying and mitigating potential financial risks. Here are just a few key scenarios where ongoing AML monitoring is particularly valuable:

  • High-volume transactions: Businesses that process a large number of transactions, such as retail giants or payment processors, benefit from leveraging ongoing monitoring to efficiently identify suspicious activities without disrupting legitimate customer interactions.
  • Large cash deposits: Substantial cash deposits, particularly those just below reporting thresholds, can be a red flag for money laundering. 
  • Frequent small deposits: A series of small, seemingly innocuous deposits can also indicate illicit activities like “smurfing,” where large sums are broken into smaller amounts to avoid detection.  
  • High-risk customers: Customers with a history of suspicious activities, or those operating in industries prone to financial crimes, require extra scrutiny. Ongoing AML monitoring provides an extra layer of protection. 
  • Overseas transactions: International transactions, especially those involving high-risk jurisdictions, demand rigorous, ongoing monitoring.
  • Cryptocurrencies: The anonymity and speed of cryptocurrency transactions make them attractive to money launderers. Continuous monitoring of crypto exchanges and wallets is essential for detecting suspicious patterns and ensuring compliance with evolving regulations.

Strengthen your AML compliance with ongoing monitoring

With financial crimes becoming increasingly sophisticated, ongoing AML monitoring is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity. By continuously scrutinizing transactions and customer behaviors, institutions can effectively detect and prevent money laundering, ensuring compliance with evolving regulations.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics provide the power to identify suspicious patterns in real time, while RegTech solutions and well-trained staff ensure that compliance remains a top priority. Implementing and maintaining standalone monitoring systems can be complex and cost-prohibitive, which is why Markaaz offers a streamlined, user-friendly option. Our industry-leading technology provides real-time 24/7 monitoring to support your institution’s AML compliance efforts.

Connect with our team to request a personalized demo today. 

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