Cross-Border Payments: What You Need to Know for AML Compliance

7 mins

In an increasingly globalized world, cross-border payments have become a norm rather than an exception. Whether it's multinational companies conducting business across countries, or an individual sending money to family living abroad, the need for efficient and secure cross-border transactions is more critical than ever. 

Banks, financial institutions, and businesses worldwide are increasingly dealing with cross-border payments. This form of transaction, which involves transferring money between parties in different countries, has become a significant part of the global economy.

However, these transactions come with unique challenges, from dealing with diverse currency exchange rates to ensuring regulatory compliance. It's in this scenario that cross-border payment fintech platforms are arriving as game-changing solutions to streamline and secure these transactions.

In this article, we will delve into what cross-border payments are, the challenges they pose, the different types that exist, and the essential aspects of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance for these payments.

What Are Cross Border Payments?

Cross-border payments are transactions where the payer and the payee are located in different countries. These transactions can take various forms and scale—from individuals sending remittances to large corporations engaging in international trade. 

They generally require a more complex processing network than domestic payments because they have to adhere to the regulations of the countries involved and often involve currency conversion. Understanding these intricacies is crucial for financial institutions, companies, and even individuals who engage in cross-border monetary transactions.

Types of Cross Border Payments

  • Remittances: These are funds an individual sends to another country, typically to family or friends.
  • Business-to-Business (B2B): These involve transactions between companies across borders and are generally high-value transactions.
  • Business-to-Customer (B2C): When businesses sell products or services to customers in another country.
  • Customer-to-Business (C2B): These are transactions where the customer pays a business in another country, usually for services or online purchases.
  • Government Payments: These could involve aid, trade tariffs, or other types of financial interactions between governments of different countries.
  • High-Value Foreign Transactions: This category includes transactions related to the purchase of high-value assets such as real estate, art, jewelry, or luxury vehicles.
  • Card-Present Transactions: In this category, travelers use their physical credit or debit cards to make payments abroad. This category mainly includes tourists, expatriates, and business travelers.
  • Card-Not-Present (CNP) Transactions: This category involves international e-commerce shopping and commercial payments to companies established overseas.

The Role of Cross Border Payment Systems

Traditional cross-border payment methods often involve several intermediaries. Each intermediary adds complexity, cost, and time to the transaction. Cross border payment gateways and systems aim to streamline this process by reducing the number of intermediaries. These systems use innovative technology to provide faster, more efficient, and more secure cross-border payments.

The Rise of Cross Border Payment Fintech

The role of cross-border payment fintech has become increasingly significant in the financial world. Fintech platforms leverage cutting-edge technology to provide innovative solutions for cross-border payments. These solutions aim to streamline the transaction process, reduce costs, increase speed, and improve security.

The Future of Cross-Border Payments

The future of cross-border payments is digital and tokenized. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are gaining popularity due to their potential to solve many of the challenges associated with cross-border payments. Banks that adopt these technologies early will be able to provide low-cost, real-time international money transfers that are more secure and reliable.

Challenges in Cross-Border Payments

The cross-border payment process often faces several hurdles, leading to inefficiency and a negative customer experience. These challenges include:

  • Currency Exchange: One of the most prominent challenges is the need to convert one currency into another. Exchange rates fluctuate, affecting the actual amount received.
  • Lengthy Settlement Times: Traditional cross-border payment systems often involve multiple intermediaries, leading to slow settlement times and increased costs.
  • Regulatory Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering Measures: Different countries have varying regulations and compliance requirements, ensuring compliance can be complex and time-consuming.
  • Transaction Fees: These payments often attract higher fees due to the multiple steps and intermediaries involved.
  • Time Delays: Cross-border payments can take a considerable amount of time to process, affecting liquidity for businesses.
  • Fraud and Security Risks: With multiple parties involved and different regulatory environments, the risks of fraud and other financial crimes increase.

Addressing these challenges is crucial to enable a smooth and efficient cross-border payment process.

Streamlining Cross-Border Payments

Banks and financial institutions can employ several strategies to streamline cross-border transactions:

  • Establish Trust: Trust is a vital factor in cross-border transactions. Financial intermediaries can build trust by considering factors such as the money transfer agent's track record and the countries of origin and destination.
  • Maintain Constant Communication with Customers: An effective communication strategy can help eliminate friction and build strong customer loyalty.
  • Adopt a Global Model: Moving to a global model can help alleviate some of the friction associated with cross-border transactions.

Addressing these factors can significantly reduce friction in cross-border payments and enhance the overall customer experience.

AML Compliance Checklist for Cross-Border Payments Firms

  • Know Your Customer (KYC): Always perform KYC checks to verify the identities of both the sender and receiver.
  • Monitor Transactions: Use advanced software to monitor the transactions for any suspicious activities or patterns.
  • Regular Audits: Conduct regular internal and external audits to ensure compliance with local and international laws.
  • Training: Make sure your staff is well-versed in the latest AML regulations and knows how to spot red flags.
  • Record-keeping: Maintain comprehensive records of all transactions for at least five years, as required by most jurisdictions.

Best Practices for Money Laundering Prevention in Cross-Border Payments

  • Automate Where Possible: Utilize AI and machine learning tools to monitor transactions automatically.
  • Multi-Layered Security: Employ multiple layers of security protocols to protect sensitive data.
  • Transparency: Be transparent about fees and exchange rates to build trust with your customers.
  • Regular Updates: Keep your AML policies up-to-date with the latest regulations and technological advancements.

AML Compliance Solutions by Tookitaki

Tookitaki is a global leader in financial crime prevention, dedicated to building a safer and more secure world through innovative technology, strategic collaboration, and a distinctive community-based approach. Since its inception in 2015, the company has been on a mission to transform the battle against financial crime by dismantling siloed AML approaches and uniting the community through its groundbreaking Anti-Money Laundering Suite (AMLS) and Anti-Financial Crime (AFC) Ecosystem.

The AMLS is an end-to-end operating system that modernises compliance processes for banks and fintechs, providing comprehensive risk coverage, enhanced detection accuracy, and significantly reduced false alerts. On the other hand, the AFC Ecosystem is a community of experts dedicated to uncovering hidden money trails that traditional methods cannot detect.

Powered by federated machine learning, the AMLS collaborates with the AFC Ecosystem to ensure that financial institutions stay ahead of the curve in their AML programs. Its unique community-based approach empowers financial institutions to effectively detect, prevent, and combat money laundering and related criminal activities, resulting in a sustainable AML program.

Tookitaki’s AMLS offers a range of modules to help financial institutions detect and prevent money laundering and other financial crimes in cross-border transactions. The Transaction Monitoring solution analyses cross-border transactions, enabling financial institutions to identify suspicious patterns and behaviours. The solution provides comprehensive risk detection and efficient alert management using a first-of-its-kind industry-wide typology repository. 

Tookitaki's Smart Screening solution leverages machine learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques to accurately score and distinguish a true match from a false match across names and transactions in real-time and in batch mode. The solution encompasses both name and real-time transaction screening capabilities, leveraging smart, AI-powered identity matching to identify positive hits while accurately reducing false negatives.

Tookitaki’s powerful screening solution provides razor-sharp matching accuracy, enabling FIs to improve the customer experience from onboarding to ongoing due diligence. The solution provides screening against sanctions lists, politically exposed persons (PEPs), adverse media and local/internal blacklist databases.

Final Thoughts

Cross-border payments are an essential part of today's global economy, facilitating everything from personal remittances to multi-million dollar corporate transactions. The world of cross-border payments is evolving rapidly, with new challenges and innovations emerging regularly. While they offer numerous opportunities, they also present significant challenges in terms of currency exchange, regulation, fees, and the risk of financial crimes. 

Financial institutions and businesses must pay close attention to AML compliance to mitigate these risks effectively. Adopting best practices and utilizing advanced compliance solutions like Tookitaki can significantly streamline the process, ensuring both compliance and customer satisfaction.

Tookitaki, being an expert and reliable leader in the fight against financial crimes, offers unique, data-driven solutions while continuously adapting to new threats. It empowers businesses to navigate the complexities of cross-border payments, ensuring a seamless, efficient, and secure transaction process.