Communication apps are often embraced as a virtually untraceable way of circumventing compliance.

More than two-thirds of the world have cell phones, a figure that is rapidly growing year-on-year.

The multi-purpose functionality of the smartphone is undeniable – users can browse the internet, listen to music, watch videos, send messages and files, have multimedia-enhanced group chats with family friends, take photos and videos, video call, oh, and use the device like an actual mobile telephone, you know, to speak with someone.

Little wonder more than three-quarters of the British public believe they could not live without a smartphone. Despite this, in 2017, the number of voice calls fell for the first time. Does this mean that people were beginning to communicate less? On the contrary, people are just as social, they are just being so via different communication channels. For example, in the U.S., smartphone users send and receive five times more texts than they make and receive phone calls. The preference for messaging platforms over traditional phone calls couldn’t be any clearer than the fact that, according to the Twilio Global Messaging Consumer Report, three out of 10 consumers stated they would give up phone calls in favor of messaging. 

Communicating During COVID

Our reliance on digital platforms to connect with family and friends, and collaborate in the workplace has only increased since the onset of COVID-19. Indeed, WhatsApp recently reported a 40% increase in usage during the pandemic.

Communication apps are often favored as a quick and discreet alternative to voice calls, both for business and pleasure, which is why they continue to be embraced as a virtually untraceable way of circumventing compliance.

Because it’s not only risque pictures and random panda GIFs that people use such tools for, but the exchange of sensitive information or screenshots of confidential client positions.

Monitored Communication Channels

Such prevalence of use has resulted in certain firms, such as Deutshce Bank AG, deciding to ban text messages and unmonitored communication apps to improve compliance standards. Many financial firms require employees to sign agreements prohibiting unmonitored communications for work. 

However, if the history of compliance has taught us anything, it is that with each technological advancement – from emails, to chat rooms, to the once-ubiquitous Blackberry BBM – banks have been playing catch up, struggling to find adequate solutions to aggregate and analyze so many messages, whether on an approved or unapproved communication platform.

Despite the industry’s continual efforts to crack down on unmonitored communications, the cat and mouse game is one that many financial firms are losing, as bad actors continue to find new and innovative ways to communicate outside accepted channels. 

Nowadays, it is not only evidence of compliance breaches that are often viewed as incriminating, but suggestions of intent, such as a “Let’s take this offline” message. As such, in a bid to remain one step ahead, many banks utilize communication monitoring tools, which work by flagging suspicious exchanges, and sending alerts to respective compliance teams. 

Same Problem, Different Medium

The problem with such legacy financial communication surveillance solutions, however, is the same as it has always been — there are too many alerts. Deciphering the false positives (meaningless alerts) from the true positives can be like finding an incriminating needle in a decentralized haystack. 

While monitoring solutions that identify instances of compliance breaches may catch bad actors before the fines, brand damage, and negative press coverage, they are often reactive to incidents that have already happened. 

Some financial firms have decided to take the extreme approach of firing employees for even having certain unmonitored communication tools on their devices. 

New Solution

Operating in a digitized and decentralized environment has resulted in investment professionals working in isolated silos and sending more messages than ever before.

The future of compliance is one where it is no longer acceptable to only monitor certain messages (random sampling) or certain data types. The future of compliance is all-inclusive, and favors a preventative, rather than reactive, approach.

Through a combined use of big data architecture, which processes huge quantities of data, machine learning (ML), and AI technology, Behavox Compliance aggregates and analyzes a firm’s global communications across more than 150 data types pertaining to dozens of voice and text applications in 10 languages, including French, Japanese, Spanish and many more. This form of financial communication surveillance means that when employees suggest to move from a monitored platform to an unmonitored one, the company can be instantly alerted.

To discover how Behavox is transforming compliance with revolutionary technology, download this white paper.