Money laundering has risen to become a major global threat as bad actors look for increasingly clever ways to hide their ill-gotten gains. While this financial crime is nothing new, the severity of its impact on the financial system could hardly be more real.

From banks losing millions in fines and sanctions, to damaging reputations from high-profile money laundering scandals and public trust being eroded--this nefarious activity impacts us all in some form or another.

So what can we do about it? Read on to find out how money laundering affects the financial system and explore solutions that financial institutions can leverage today in order to protect themselves against these threats.

What is money laundering and how does it work?

Money laundering is the process of disguising the origins of illegally acquired money so that it appears to have been obtained from a legitimate source.

This type of activity can be used to hide the true source of wealth, evade taxes, and provide criminals with access to otherwise inaccessible funds. Additionally, money laundering can involve complex investments and transactions, often taking place across borders, which can create difficulties for law enforcement agencies in identifying and prosecuting perpetrators.

Money laundering typically involves three steps: placement, layering, and integration. In the placement stage, money from illegal activities is transferred into the financial system. In the layering stage, the money is moved between different accounts and/or countries to disguise its illegal origins. In the integration stage, the money is transferred back into the economy in the form of legitimate funds.

How does money laundering affect the financial system?

Money laundering can have far-reaching implications for the global financial system. Criminals who can hide their assets can easily fund criminal enterprises and create networks of support without being detected. This can undermine both local economies as well as international ones.

Money laundering activity can drive up costs for law-abiding businesses, as they are forced to pay more in compliance costs and resources to properly monitor and report suspicious activities. Additionally, it can also dampen foreign investment and make international businesses wary of investing in certain countries that are deemed more prone to financial crime. Furthermore, money laundering can also lead to an increased risk of fraud and financial mismanagement, which can cause reputational damage to countries plagued by such predations.

Money laundering can have serious consequences for those individuals and organizations caught up in it. Individuals who are found guilty of money laundering may face huge fines, imprisonment, and even the confiscation of assets.

When businesses are caught up in money laundering activities, they may suffer serious damage to their reputations, and can also be forced to pay substantial fines as a result of their actions.

These risks should not be taken lightly, as the damage caused by money laundering can have long-term impacts on the economic health of countries and regions. It is therefore important for governments and international organizations to take steps to combat money laundering, by introducing tougher regulations, stronger enforcement, and better anti-money laundering tools.

How can money laundering be prevented?

Money laundering prevention is an important part of financial security. Banks and other financial institutions like fintechs and neobanks, should have adequate resources dedicated to the detection and prevention of suspicious activities. It is also important to implement robust auditing and compliance systems, and strictly adhere to international laws and regulations related to money laundering.

One of the best ways to prevent money laundering is through the adoption of anti-money laundering (AML) policies and procedures. These policies should include customer identification, enhanced due diligence for high-risk customers, transaction monitoring, and internal reporting systems. Financial institutions should ensure their employees are properly trained in money laundering prevention and detection techniques. This is important, as suspicious activity can be more easily spotted when staff are knowledgeable and vigilant.

Additionally, financial institutions like neobanks and fintechs should consider implementing a "Know Your Customer" (KYC) policy, which involves verifying the identity of customers and ensuring that they are not connected to any unlawful activities. Rigorous procedures for monitoring and detecting suspicious activity, as well as filing reports with relevant authorities, should be established.

Finally, financial institutions should develop a robust risk management system to ensure that all potential risks associated with money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illegal activities are adequately identified and addressed.

The future of money laundering prevention

One of the best ways to prevent money laundering is to create robust financial systems with proper monitoring and controls. Financial institutions should establish policies that necessitate thorough customer due diligence to ensure that customers are not engaging in activities that may involve money laundering.

To prevent money laundering in the future, it is important to develop better technologies and regulatory policies that are specifically designed to identify, monitor, and report suspicious activities.

Additionally, all stakeholders, including financial institutions, governments, law enforcement, and technology companies, need to work together to create a more secure and transparent financial system. For example, this could include a robust real-time transaction monitoring system, establishing stricter anti-money laundering laws, and increasing the sharing of information across financial systems.

Finally, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms to detect and track suspicious transactions would be a step in the right direction.

Flagright’s solution to preventing money laundering

At Flagright, we are committed to helping fintechs and neobanks stop financial crime and secure payments. Our comprehensive suite of products and services is designed to help your operation become more secure, efficient, and compliant.

Our solutions include real-time transaction monitoring, dynamic risk scoring, KYC/KYB orchestration, sanctions screening, and blockchain analysis.

These tools can help you stop financial crime and money laundering, achieve increased compliance, better manage risk, and gain a competitive edge through improved operational efficiencies.

We also provide licensing and advisory services, helping fintechs integrate banking services, apply for licenses, and develop compliance policies.

Contact us to schedule a free demo.