BBVA, spearheading the creation of a global financial crime prevention unit

Digital Reinvention
29/06/2023 News

With an end-to-end vision firmly focused on prevention and customer protection, BBVA launches a new unit to further strengthen the bank’s financial crime prevention structure. Technology, advanced analytical models and artificial intelligence will be decisive in ensuring the proactive protection of customers, the bank itself and society, and are what underpin this cutting-edge unit within the Spanish banking industry.

In this environment, BBVA is the first banking group in Spain to have set up a financial crime prevention unit in the broadest sense. “We want to build a comprehensive solution model to the threat of financial crime for our customers, allowing us to focus our efforts on their protection, while preventing the use of financial institutions for unlawful pursuits,” remarks Natalia Ortega, head of the new global Financial Crime Prevention unit.

“Financial crime ranges from the most basic theft or fraud targeting a single customer to large-scale operations run by organized crime outfits, which can sometimes be transnational in scale. This highlights the need to integrate functions that go beyond what has traditionally been defined as fraud prevention, as we broaden our capabilities to detect any unlawful activity that takes place within the bank.”

Technology and data play a key role in achieving this goal. “For BBVA, deepening our 360º knowledge of the transactional behavior of our customers will enable us deliver a differential response to any unlawful goings-on, and data are key to our success in this task,” continues Ortega.

“BBVA has opted for a single, vertical responsibility, as this will allow us to build a genuinely preventive operating model based on technology and data analytics and focused on the protection of our customers,” she explains.

The new Financial Crime Prevention unit currently comprises some 800 individuals within the BBVA Group. Two hubs have already been set up in Spain and Mexico, while all the other countries in which BBVA operates will follow suit in the coming months.

Crime is continuing to evolve and is becoming increasingly sophisticated. This concern, coupled with the exponential and universal implementation of its digital strategy, has driven BBVA to evolve its own vision of financial crime and how to prevent it. “There are new dynamics and modus operandi when it comes to fraud and the illicit movement of money, all of which makes this risk an increasing concern, subject to strict regulation. This new environment requires us to evolve our detection capabilities at the same pace,” explains the head of Financial Crime Prevention.

“BBVA has already gone some of the way in recent years. In 2022 we managed to thwart 75% of fraud attempts against our customers, thanks to advanced models and the use of new prevention tools. We put various defense mechanisms in place, from training and awareness-raising among employees and customers about human factor risk, to investing in new technology that allows us to detect unusual behavior in customer accounts in real time,” she concludes.

By setting up a new Financial Crime Prevention unit, BBVA is focusing on the protection of customers, the bank itself and society. In the words of its prevention officer, “This is not a traditional project focused on productivity or efficiency; we are talking about effective risk mitigation to protect customers and society.”

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