Singapore harnesses data analytics to fight financial crime

Industry looking at technology and labour importation to address shortage in skilled professionals

Singapore harnesses data analytics to fight financial crime


By Gabriel Olano

Singapore is harnessing technology and data analytics to fight against money laundering and terrorism financing, amid a shortage of skilled data analysts that will help financial institutions and regulators track illicit money flows.

The public-private partnership Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Industry Partnership (ACIP) said that the skills gap can be addressed by importing foreign talent and training locals, the Straits Times reported. ACIP is an alliance of financial institutions, regulators, and law enforcement agencies.

According to a report by ACIP, Singaporean firms are looking to use data analytics to weed out suspicious transactions because current systems result in too many false positives, while manual processes are prone to human error.

“On a national level, the relevant talent pool in Singapore needs to be grown significantly to meet this demand,” the report said. “This can be achieved through the importing of talent from outside Singapore as well as through the ‘upskilling’ of Singapore’s existing workforce.”

As Singapore is one of Asia’s prime financial hubs, it is upgrading its capabilities to tackle white-collar crime. The government recently indicated that it is willing to ease some restrictions on importing labour for the financial-technology industry and other sectors, amid talent shortages. Following the 2011 elections, the Lion city tightened its immigration policy, after residents expressed concerns that an influx of foreign workers in the past decade placed a strain on social services, driving up real estate prices, and threatening locals’ jobs.

According to Ho Hern Shin, assistant managing director for banking and insurance at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the central bank and regulator is “strongly encouraging” the use of data analytics in combating financial crime.

“[Data analytics] has the potential for bringing about transformative change in our approach to combating financial crime,” she said.

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