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The Facts and Figures of the Patriot Act’s Financial Crimes Solution

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According to a 2020 Deloitte Anti-Money Laundering Preparedness Survey, the world loses 2–5 percent of its global GDP (about USD 800B–2T) annually through money laundering. Money laundering activities can create enough money to run several countries for one year. For instance, 2020 government budget estimates show that USD 800B can run the economies of Mexico, Belgium, and Sweden for a year. This amount can also finance over 50 of the world’s developing economies.

Over the years, the USA Patriot Act has changed the fabric of the war against financial crimes, terrorist financing, and money laundering activities. Understanding the USA Patriot Act will help you take advantage of the protections it offers US citizens and businesses against financial crimes.

What Is the USA PATRIOT Act?

The USA Patriot Act stands for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.” Congress enacted the Patriot Act in the wake of the horrific September 11, 2001 terror attack, with overwhelming support across the political divide.

The Act provides a framework that allows federal law enforcement agencies to use sophisticated methods to investigate, stop, or prevent acts of domestic and international terrorism. This includes all activities leading to terrorism, especially funding and planning terror attacks.

History of the PATRIOT Act

The journey leading to the establishment of the Patriot Act is long and exciting. Around the 1970s, governments globally did not focus on money laundering. The war against drugs was a more immediate adversary. The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 was the first legislation that attempted to check money laundering activities and other financial crimes. It aimed to reduce the power of drug cartels.

In 1986, Congress enacted the Money Laundering Control Act, making money laundering a federal crime for the first time in history. This led to a cascade of actions that put money laundering on global economies’ radar. Countries finally woke up to the impact of criminal financing on terrorist activities, civil wars, and other global menaces. As a result, the 1990s and 2000s saw concerted global efforts to curb financial crimes. Money laundering was the biggest source of funding for large-scale criminal activities.

Provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act

The Patriot Act gives the US federal government much greater reach to combat international or large-scale terrorism by cutting off its financial facilitators. The legislation addresses four key aspects related to terrorism funding, money laundering, and protection of the American people.

  • Title II–expansion of surveillance methods for law enforcement
  • Title IV–immigration procedure changes and security of US borders
  • Title VIII–criminal sanctions against terrorism-related activities
  • Title III–comprehensive legislation of currency transaction and anti-money-laundering (AML) laws

Title III of the Patriot Act specifically creates measures to curb terrorism financing. Terrorists often get funding from well-orchestrated illegal transactions disguised as ordinary business transactions. The Patriot Act empowers law enforcement agencies to dig deeper into these dealings and uncover critical information about terror activities.

The major guidelines of the Patriot Act are:

1. International Community Guidelines

Title III outlines stringent guidelines surrounding inter-country financial activities. It expands the definition of money laundering activities to include breaches in data protection protocols, cybercrimes, bribing election officials, and misusing public funds. It also reinforces banking rules to control international money laundering.

Many countries followed the enactment of the Patriot Act with complementary AML laws of their own. Otherwise, the Patriot Act would be a lame-duck without international support. As a result, there are better communication structures between US law enforcement agencies and other countries.

2. Property Seizure

Section 106 of the Patriot Act allows the President to seize private or corporate property if an individual or business is engaging in terrorist activities. (Section 411 defines these activities.)

3. Fair Credit Reporting Act Amendment

The Patriot Act also amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It allows FBI agents, using ex parte administrative orders, to access credit histories of individuals under investigation related to national or international terrorism. This happens only where the First Amendment does not protect the criminal activities in question.

4. Anti-Money Laundering Activities

Money laundering involves disguising proceeds from criminal activity as income from legitimate business activities. This usually happens in three steps:

  • Placement—criminals will first place dubious funds in financial institutions
  • Layering—they will then use complex financial transactions to mask the true origins of their income
  • Integration—they finally create a legitimate transaction to sanitize the payment, allowing them to use the money

E-commerce is quickly replacing the more traditional form of buyer-seller transactions. The Patriot Act requires businesses and financial institutions to employ Know Your Customer (KYC) measures. KYC measures require businesses to verify customer identities before doing business with them.

Banking businesses, including startups, must assess the risk profile of clients before transacting with them. They must crosscheck customer details against any politically exposed persons, sanction lists, or terrorist watch lists.

Where Are We Now?

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With the Patriot Act, financial institutions have improved their capacity to prevent financial crimes. This is good news for everyone. No one wants to find out their business activities have inadvertently funded terrorism activity or their income came from criminal activities.

Still, the world needs a single platform to prosecute, stop, or prevent international money-laundering activities. But the USA Patriot Act was undoubtedly an excellent place to start.

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Source: https://www.fintechnews.org/the-facts-and-figures-of-the-patriot-acts-financial-crimes-solution/

Fintech

Wolters Kluwer acknowledged as business and industry innovators for CCH iKnow and CCH iQ Client Match

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Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting Asia Pacific, a leading provider of expert solutions for legal, tax, accounting, and finance professionals who make critical decisions every day, was recognized with a Gold Stevie® Award for its CCH iKnow solution, plus a Gold Stevie® Award and Silver Stevie® Award for CCH iQ Client Match solution in the eighth edition of the Asia-Pacific Stevie® Awards. These solutions have innovated how accounting professionals navigate complex tax topics and leverage insights to build proactive accounting advisory opportunities.

“We welcome this strong industry recognition of our innovation roadmap for professional solutions that help Australia’s accounting professionals,” said Izzy Silva, Managing Director, Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting Asia Pacific. “The success of these solutions was evident during the global health crisis. Multiple pieces of new legislation were released to support the COVID-19 economic recovery. CCH iKnow kept our professional accounting clients up to date, and in turn, CCH iQ Client Match helped them automate communications with their own client base – ultimately generating 850,000 advisory opportunities for Wolters Kluwer clients.”

CCH iKnow was recognized with a Gold Stevie® Award in the Innovation in Technology Management, Planning & Implementation category. CCH iQ Client Match was recognized with a Gold Stevie® Award for the Innovation in Technology Management, Planning & Implementation Financial Services category. CCH iQ Client Match was also awarded a Silver Stevie® Award in the Innovation in Business-to-Business Services category.

CCH iKnow is a platform that is formatted into a comprehensive matrix of industry-leading content, expert analysis, and practical tools across 11 modules designed to help accounting professionals navigate the practice areas that best suit their firm. It helps accounting professionals understand complex tax topics quickly via its innovative 360-degree research functionality. Its relevant, in-depth, and balanced commentary, up-to-date data, and insights are prepared by the same team that powers the highly renowned Australian Master Tax Guide.  

CCH iQ Client Match is based on innovative predictive intelligence technology, deep industry insights of Wolters Kluwer experts, and the benefits of its professional practice management software, CCH iFirm. The CCH iQ Client Match service profiles the accounting firm’s client database held in CCH iFirm, matching clients that are impacted by the tax event. Within minutes, all of the affected clients are grouped in one place – removing the need for the accountant to spend time manually aligning clients to tax events. Templated client letters and practical tools, such as calculators and impact statements, streamline an easy contact process with all affected clients and correctly apply the change to each impacted client.

Overall, Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting Asia Pacific was recognized for its innovation with seven Gold and Silver Stevie Awards, achieving Gold Awards for its CCH Integrator, CCH iKnow, and CCH iQ Client Match solutions, and Silver Awards for its corporate response to COVID-19, and for its CCH Pinpoint and CCH iQ Client Match solutions.

“The eighth edition of the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards attracted many remarkable nominations,” said Stevie Awards president Maggie Gallagher.  “The organisations that won this year have demonstrated that they have continued to innovate and succeed despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and we applaud them for their perseverance and creativity.  We look forward to celebrating many of this year’s winners during our virtual awards ceremony on 14 July.”

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Source: https://australianfintech.com.au/wolters-kluwer-acknowledged-as-business-and-industry-innovators-for-cch-iknow-and-cch-iq-client-match/

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BaaS Fintech Unit Acquires $51M in Capital via Series B from Accel, Better Tomorrow Ventures, Others

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After acquiring $51 million in capital through a Series B round led by Accel, Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) provider Unit has introduced a product that will allow firms to offer live bank accounts and issue payment cards within minutes.

Better Tomorrow Ventures, Aleph, Flourish Ventures, and TLV Partners also took part in Unit‘s latest investment round.

Established in 2019 and having come out of stealth mode in late 2020, Unit’s management noted that their modern technology stack has been developed on a native ledger. The company’s platform features embedded compliance, along with built-in bank relationships. This enables companies or businesses to go live in around four weeks. During the past 3 months, Unit has seen deposit volume increase by more than 300%, and banked end-clients grow by 600%.

The firm recently completed integrations with Plaid and Allpoint. Unit’s management said that the proceeds from the new round should help it expand operations and offer various other financial products. The company will also be working on other types of integrations, while also implementing a richer feature set, such as (software development kits) SDKs and front-end components.

First up in the company’s line of products is Unit Go, which aims to allow firms to create live bank accounts and issue physical and virtual cards in just a few minutes. Founders and developers are able to sign up for free accounts, build solutions in Unit’s live environment, and instantly test out their products with real funds.

Unit CEO Itai Damiti stated:

“After interacting with hundreds of builders, we believe even more strongly that the next decade in Fintech will be defined by tech companies using their unfair advantage — the flywheel of distribution, trust, software, and data — to launch massively successful fintech products in their verticals. Our mission continues to be helping these companies bring those products to life, unlock value, and expand financial access for all.”

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Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/06/176791-baas-fintech-unit-acquires-51m-in-capital-via-series-b-from-accel-better-tomorrow-ventures-others/

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Indonesian Fintech Finantier, an Open Finance API Platform, Finalizes Seed Round from Global Founders Capital, East Ventures

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Indonesia-based Finantier, an open finance API platform, has secured an undisclosed 7-figure sum through a seed round that was led by Global Founders Capital and East Ventures.

Finantier’s latest investment round was oversubscribed. The capital was raised at a post-money valuation of over 20 times its pre-seed valuation in November of last year.

Participating in Finantier‘s new funding round were Future Shape, an investment and advisory company established by Tony Fadell, the co-inventor of the iPhone; Partech Partners, Taurus Ventures, Saison Capital, and GMO Venture Partners. Several other high-profile Fintech investors made contributions as well.

Existing investors AC Ventures, Y Combinator, Genesia Ventures, Two Culture Capital and prominent angels also took part in Finantier’s round. As previously reported, Finantier was part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2021 batch.

Finantier will also be working with Francesco Simoneschi, Co-Founder and CEO at Truelayer as an advisor to strengthen the firm’s Board of Directors.

The proceeds will be channeled towards scaling the business and further improving Finantier’s line of products, while helping the firm to continue its expansion efforts in Indonesian markets and the wider region. The company will also be doubling the size of its workforce.

Since the beginning of 2021, the firm has been focused on growing its professional team. It now has around 50 employees and has increased its client base and business partnerships by more than 50% MoM.

Edwin Kusuma, Co-founder and COO at Finantier, stated:

“Finantier democratises access to financial services by allowing the millions of unbanked – from roadside warungs (SMEs) to gig economy workers – to benefit from their digital data footprint. By unlocking access to basic financial services for the unbanked, we are enabling them and their loved ones to lead better lives.”

As covered in December 2020, Finantier had revealed that it acquired an undisclosed amount of capital from US-based startup accelerator Y Combinator.

Finantier had joined Y Combinator’s Winter 2021 funding cycle, which was scheduled to begin in January 2021. Finantier had said in December that it was planning to expand its business operations into emerging markets outside the Southeast Asia region via its partnership with the accelerator.

The Fintech firm allows companies or businesses to build and provide financial services to customers by offering accounts aggregation, income and ID verification, recurring repayments and subscription services. Finantier leverages machine learning to analyze raw data and then offer insights from several different sources.

Edwin Kusuma, Chief Operations Officer at Finantier, stated (in December of last year):

“Fintech lenders are frequently unable to extend loans to consumers and businesses. This is due to incomplete information, or the inability of Fintechs to obtain the full financial picture of a borrower to de-risk their operations and reduce costs.”

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Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/06/176848-indonesian-fintech-finantier-an-open-finance-api-platform-finalizes-seed-round-from-global-founders-capital-east-ventures/

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New digital bank Hiver launches to meet the needs of Australia’s essential workers

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Hiver represents a new category of bank that combines digital banking technology and responsible investing, with the sustainable funds of a strong and respected industry player, Teachers Mutual Bank Limited. Essential workers will soon be able to download the digital bank app and start saving with Hiver.

Research shows that nearly 90% of Australians expect the money in their bank accounts to be managed in a socially responsible way by their bank.[1] Hiver is set to be the first Australian ethical and digital bank that matches global benchmarks for social responsibility and meets Australians’ banking expectations.

Hiver has convenience at the front-of-mind to meet the needs of essential workers. Research commissioned by Teachers Mutual Bank Limited found that 37% of essential workers are likely to choose a digital bank as one of the financial institutions they bank with over the next three years. Essential workers deserve a bank that they can trust to invest responsibly and act ethically, while securing their financial future.

Currently, the digital bank is offering new and innovative savings products, focused on delivering the best member experience at all times. The new Hiver Saver Account offers attractive interest rates, as well as new features to promote frictionless banking. Customers will be able to set up Direct Debits or make BPAY payments straight from their Saver, without the need to transfer to a transacting account. Hivers will also enjoy 1% cash back on essential purchases like groceries and public transport for a limited period of time. Further products including home loans via the broker channel will be made available in the coming months.

Steve James, CEO of Teachers Mutual Bank Limited, said, “The introduction of Hiver to the banking landscape represents an exciting development in customer-focused service delivery. As the first digital mutual bank to hit the market, we are combining the best of new banking technology with the financial security of a nine-billion-dollar balance sheet and a proven, ethical business model.”

“We are proud to be offering this unique service to some of our most valued community members, essential and frontline workers, backing their savings with our strong capital and liquidity,” Mr James said.

Mr James has welcomed the appointment of Carolyn Murphy to the role of Chief Digital Bank Officer.

“Carolyn Murphy’s track record in delivering innovative strategies positions her well to launch Hiver into the community and deliver our trusted services through a brand new product,” Mr James said.

Carolyn Murphy, Chief Digital Bank Officer, said, “The pandemic has shown us how important high-quality digital services are for people working in essential services across the country, in cities and regional areas, day and night. Hiver consolidates our bank-wide push to a digital-first approach with our high quality, member-led banking services because we know it’s what customers are looking for.”

Ms Murphy said, “Essential workers’ confidence in our ethical and efficient approach to banking could not be more important. We are excited to offer essentials workers their first opportunity to use the new digital banking app, which can be found by searching ‘Hiver’ in platforms like Google Play and Apple’s App Store.”

Created specifically for essential workers, Hiver is designed with community at its core. Being part of ‘the Hive’ effectively allows members to contribute to the financial goals of their fellow ‘Hivers’. As a mutual bank, the majority of funding comes from member deposits. This means, the Hivers, from nurses to firefighters, can ultimately contribute towards the home loans of the paramedics and teachers who are also eligible members. As the Hive grows, the more Hiver can invest in its members be it through better rates, lower fees or enhanced customer experience.


[1] According to the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia 2020 From Values to Riches consumer report.

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Source: https://australianfintech.com.au/new-digital-bank-hiver-launches-to-meet-the-needs-of-australias-essential-workers/

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