Technological Solutions, Customer Awareness Crucial in Combating Financial Crimes

    Federal Banking Ombudsman Sirajuddin Aziz emphasized the pivotal role of technological solutions and customer awareness in tackling the escalating incidents of financial crimes in the country.

    Speaking at the conference “Financial Crimes in the Digital Age,” organized by Eastnets and managed by Dellsons Associates, Aziz underscored the need for continuous efforts to strengthen data security, plug loopholes, and enhance awareness among both bankers and customers.

    Aziz highlighted the urgency for banks to upgrade their systems, focusing on fortifying the data security of their customers. He called for reforms to address vulnerabilities in practices and mechanisms that could potentially expose customer data to white-collar criminals. The Federal Banking Ombudsman stressed the paradoxical situation where victims of financial crimes in Pakistan tend to be highly qualified, while fraudsters, though less educated, strategically manipulate individuals to steal their credentials.

    “At-risk Asaan Bank Accounts” were singled out as being frequently exploited for fraudulent activities, pointing to the negligence of banks in complying with Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols. Aziz emphasized the critical need for awareness and ongoing education among bankers and customers to counteract these challenges effectively.

    Nadeem Hussain, Chairman of Pakistan Fintech Network, echoed Aziz’s sentiments, emphasizing the prime responsibility of banks to foster a culture of awareness of data privacy within their systems. He stressed the importance of investing in technology and education to achieve this goal. Hussain drew attention to the vulnerability of personal details, including OTPs, in the digital age, emphasizing the need for banks to adopt new software and applications while urging customers to regularly update their passwords.

    Hazem Mulhim, Founder and CEO of Eastnets, discussed the influence of the fourth industrial revolution, particularly Artificial Intelligence, in transforming the financial sector globally. He highlighted the need for a substantial investment of Rs. 400 billion worldwide to revamp systems through acquiring cybersecurity technology and workforce capacity building. Financial crimes, constituting 2% of the global GDP, are on the rise, and Mulhim emphasized the importance of Pakistan’s financial sector staying updated with advanced technological solutions to maintain its position on the allow-list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

    The conference featured various panel discussions on challenges in digital banking, banking compliance, and anti-money laundering. Notable speakers included Lubna Farooq Malik, Director General-Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU), Atala Nijmeh, Principal Product Manager-Eastnets, and Hassan Zebdeh, Financial Crime Advisor & Sr. Product Development Manager-Eastnets. Salim Thobani, EVP/Head Foreign Exchange Monitoring Unit-Meezan Bank Limited, and Syed Faraz Anwer, Partner Business & Risk Consulting-A.F. Ferguson & Co., moderated the sessions. The event provided a platform to address critical issues and explore solutions in the ever-evolving landscape of financial crimes in the digital age.

    Also read Meezan Bank Collaborates with SAFCO Microfinance Company Private Limited (SMCL) for Launch of Islamic Microfinance Services

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