MSB Insider

Benefits of MSB Technology & Automation

August 18, 2017

MSB technology and automation help businesses streamline their processes while improving overall accuracy. In an industry with ever-changing regulation and sky high costs for non-compliance, money service businesses can’t afford to ignore the powers of emerging technology. Luckily, there are many ways to harness automation to strengthen business systems and reduce human error.

The Rise of Automation

Businesses of all kinds are harnessing automation to save time, free up human resources, and improve accuracy. When used strategically, automation can complement your manual processes to help your business run smoothly. For example, automating simple accounting tasks like monthly invoices and regular payments can free up your accounting team to identify new revenue streams or reduce costs in other areas.

Some automation is robotic in nature. We encounter this type of business automation most often as customer service chat bots. When you chat with customer service on a website, a chat bot will often initiate the conversation and help narrow down your focus. From there, your issue can be delegated to a human specialist if needed.

As businesses embrace automation on a larger scale than ever before, they are also embracing machine learning and cognitive computing. The process of machine learning refers to the act of teaching a computer how to think like a human. By feeding it data and training it to make decisions, the computer can learn how to react and respond in a near-human manner. Once the computer is trained, cognitive computing is an invaluable form of automation.

Many types of automation are so simple and pervasive that we don’t even notice them. Automation for business includes automatic email replies, scheduled social media posts, and monthly recurring billing. Each type of automation is designed to free up your time by performing a repetitive task. This allows you to focus on strategic tasks and other tasks that can’t be easily automated, like forging new business partnerships with your industry contacts. Workflow automation optimizes your business systems, speeds up processes, cuts costs, and frees up your human resources.

Technology and Automation for MSBs

Cognitive computing is invaluable to businesses because it enables a computer to process a large amount of structured or unstructured data and identify patterns. An MSB compliance service provider can train a computer to identify suspicious transactions and patterns in check cashing data. The computer will continually improve as it digests more data and the humans train it with increasing accuracy.

This powerful application of machine learning to MSB compliance technology helps check cashers catch the most discreet red flags that even the best-trained humans might miss. By allowing the computer to do the tedious task of sifting through mountains of data, you improve accuracy and save time. The top priority for MSB compliance programs today is to meet the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) requirements outlined by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Failure to comply results in the loss of access to banking and business closure. Compliance is non-negotiable.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a solution specific to the MSB industry. RPA refers to the application of technology that enables a company to train a “robot” to capture and interpret transactional data. The RPA aids in the processing of transactions, manipulates data, and triggers internal responses. An RPA can even communicate with other digital systems to help different databases and technology work together in the check cashing or money transfer process.

The Benefits of MSB Technology and Automation

In an industry with an endless stream of transactional data that spans different geographic locations, MSB technology and automation are invaluable. MSB automation leads to increased productivity by supporting and improving the daily task of sifting through transactional data, national databases, and public domain customer information to detect anomalies. MSB technology also helps money service businesses stay ahead of continually evolving regulatory requirements.

On average, compliance agents spend 15% of their time tracking down regulatory changes and keeping up with the required documentation. RPA aids in this process to deliver improved accuracy in a smaller amount of time. MSB technology speeds up business processes while also freeing up compliance experts to troubleshoot specific problems for their client. Another job of an MSB compliance department is to assess risk for both the business and each individual customer. MSB technology automates the organization of data and subsequent risk assessment.

In the actual moment of cashing a check, technology and automation assist your human check cashers. POS technology aids in the capturing of transactional data and then checks these data points against a larger database. The check cashing teller can focus on observing and interacting with the customer while the technology does the heavy lifting. Important data can be immediately and effortlessly communicated with your financial institution. This ensures that everyone has access to important information the moment it becomes available. MSB technology streamlines your check cashing process and helps catch anomalies that your employees might miss (even with the best training!).

Everyday, criminals become better at outsmarting the guides put in place to stop fraudulent behavior. MSB automation keeps you ahead of the curve and stops fraud before it enters your money service business. This helps you reduce losses, strengthen your banking relationship, and focus on growing your business.

MSB Technology Solutions

Integrating MSB technology and automation into your own MSB can feel overwhelming. The MSB compliance experts at NCC provide cutting-edge technology (and training) to every client. This is in addition to a real MSB friendly bank account. Your business will enjoy reliable MSB banking and supported financial services in addition to the benefits of leading MSB technology.

NCC’s advanced POS systems are designed to partially automate the check cashing process. The system frees up your teller to concentrate on the customer in front of them. As transactional data is gathered through Remote Deposit Capture (RDC) and fingerprint scanners, it is communicated to a database. The data is checked against national databases and scanned for anomalies.

If everything checks out, your check cashing process continues. If the technology catches a red flag, you can successfully stop fraud in it’s track by refusing to cash the check. This technology is a powerful partner for all MSB compliance programs and unlicensed MSBs looking to reduce fraud.

Ready to open your MSB bank account and start taking advantage of this technology? Call us or fill out an online form today!


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Retail Check Cashing on the Rise

August 10, 2017

Retail check cashing refers to check cashing services that “live” inside another business. A convenience store offering quick bill pay, check cashing, and prepaid debit cards is a retail check casher. Alternative financial services are a natural complement to the existing products found in a community business. Gas stations, liquor stores, beauty shops, groceries, and bodegas are all ripe with the opportunity for retail check cashing.

Why Retail Check Cashing? Why Now?

Retail check cashing provides convenience for the consumer by offering vital financial services right where they are already shopping. Redlining continues to plague low income neighborhoods, leaving them with little or no access to banking services. In neighborhoods where bank branches are scarce (or altogether absent), retail check cashers deliver financial inclusion. When these services are paired with another business, the convenience is doubled.

The consumers are not the only ones who benefit from retail check cashing! The business owners themselves reap many rewards for offering check cashing services, including: increased foot traffic to their location, improved customer loyalty, and the ability to reach individuals who would not otherwise enter their store. As Amazon edges in on physical retail stores and FinTech companies vie to compete with check cashers, this diversification of services gives retail check cashers an edge.

Check cashers are also experiencing increased competition from an unlikely source: big banks. Traditional financial institutions are extending check cashing services to non account holders in order to compete with check cashers. Why? It is no secret that the unbanked and underbanked portion of the population is growing. Many millennials are eschewing traditional bank accounts in favor of Fintech options. Other working adults rely on check cashing to bridge the gap between paychecks or pay for unexpected expenses.

A Notable Retail Check Cashing Merger

In Australia, Western Union just announced a major partnership with BP. The new arrangement will allow Australians to access and utilize Western Union services at 302 BP locations countrywide. This is just one part in Western Union’s push to digitize their retail offerings and respond to their consumer’s Fintech affinity.

Western Union’s Australian director, Simon Millard, notes “Fintech is coming from the voice of the customer. So that means finding out what customers want and how do we make their life easier. That includes things like increasing our hours of operation within our retail environment, which is something that our partnership with BP does. We know customers want to send in the evening when they get home from work, BP gives us 24/7 access.”

What can retail check cashers across the globe that aren’t as big as Western Union or BP glean from this? Make every effort to make the lives of your customers easier, more efficient, and as convenient as possible. Staying open later, offering a diverse lineup of check cashing services, and providing a loyalty program are all ways to help your customer. Most importantly, view fintech as an opportunity rather than a threat. Each change within the industry brings a new opportunity for you to better serve your customer and improve your business operations.

Retail Check Cashing In the United States

In the US, roughly 24 million households are underbanked, lacking full access to traditional banking services. These households rely on check cashing and alternative financial services to perform routine tasks like paying rent and bills, loading prepaid debit cards, and sending money to family. For these families, retail check cashing is not only convenient, it’s essential.

Convenience store check cashing is probably the most recognizable form of retail check cashing today. As the Western Union and BP deal highlights, gas station retail check cashing is also popular. There is a common misconception that the only people using check cashers are those without bank accounts. This is far from the truth! In fact, many people supplement their traditional banking activity with check cashing services. As a result, retail check cashers are serving a diverse customer base.

This diverse customer base has one thing in common: they are using alternative financial services and they prefer convenience. As a retail check casher, you are focused on reducing fraud while providing these convenient services to as many customers as possible! In order to juggle the demands of your business, it is vital to have a real check cashing business bank account. In the United States, many big banks are severing ties with check cashing industry, terminating the accounts of their check cashing business clients.

This phenomenon of derisking is partially the result of tightening federal regulation and partially the result of banks entering the check cashing industry themselves. Fraud prevention is essential for finding and maintaining a steady check cashing bank account. Unlicensed check cashers, those cashing less than $1,000 per customer per day, may not be subject to regulation, but they still have a strong incentive to prevent fraud. Licensed check casher, those cashing over $1,000 per customer per day, are subject to additional federal regulation.

Many retail check cashers fall into this unlicensed category. In order to prevent fraudulent activity, it is imperative that they take steps to secure their business location and train their employees on a strict check cashing process. Adherence to this process will help the business spot red flags before they become trouble.

Your Retail Check Cashing Solution

NCC provides solutions for retail check cashers, including: real bank accounts, POS technology, compliance and fraud prevention services, and 24/7 customer service. As derisking threatens check cashers in the US, NCC provides the only redundant banking solution. When you become an NCC client, you receive a real check cashing bank account that is backed by a network of MSB friendly banks. This means you can focus on the other parts of your business like growing your customer base and expanding your services.

Open your check cashing business bank account TODAY! Call NCC or fill out a form on our website to get the process started.


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FinCEN Takes MSB Regulation Global

August 02, 2017

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN, has long been the domestic authority for MSB regulation. The regulatory body is housed under the U.S. Department of the Treasury. As of Wednesday July 2017, FinCEN is taking their power across borders. On July 27, FinCEN announced a $110 million fine against a digital currency exchange with a separate $12 million fine against its owner. The exchange, BTC-e, is headquartered in Russia.

How Did the Exchange Violate MSB Regulation?

In its action, FinCEN alleges that BTC-e failed to create and use an AML program, as required by law for money service businesses. In addition, FinCEN alleges the exchange failed to submit suspicious activity reports (SARs). Beyond the supposed misbehavior of the company, FinCEN goes further to claim that its owner, Alexander Vinnik, willfully violated the applicable regulation.

According to FinCEN, BTC-e is subject to U.S. laws after facilitating the exchange of funds between two people within the United States. BTC-e conducted another 21,000 bitcoin transactions worth more than $296 million in the United States. While the company is based in Russia, this US activity brings BTC-e under FinCEN’s watch. As an MSB regulated by FinCEN, BTC-e is required to register as an MSB, renewing this registration every 2 years. In addition, BTC-e is required to implement an effective AML program, detect suspicious transactions, file SARs, and obtain and retain certain records.

In addition to violating AML requirements, FinCEN alleges that the exchange ignored blatant crimes, overlooked the discussion of criminal activity on its discussion boards, and even courted criminals as customers. The near complete anonymity provided by the service appealed to criminals who used the exchange to carry out illegal activity including identify theft, financial fraud, and drug trafficking. Vinnik was arrested in Greece for these alleged violations and will be tried in the United States.

FinCEN announced in a statement, “This action should be a strong deterrent to anyone who thinks that they can facilitate ransomware, dark net drug sales, or conduct other illicit activity using encrypted virtual currency. Treasury’s FinCEN team and our law enforcement partners will work with foreign counterparts across the globe to appropriately oversee virtual currency exchangers and administrators who attempt to subvert U.S. law and avoid complying with U.S. AML safeguards.”

What Does this Action Mean for the MSB Industry?

FinCEN’s 2017 fines on MSB businesses have already reached $306 million, a significant increase over the $11.8 million in penalties for 2016. One thing is clear: FinCEN plans to regulate MSBs, including nebulous digital currency businesses, with fervor. FinCEN’s willingness to cross borders to fight financial crime and prevent money laundering is yet another wakeup call for both the MSB and digital currency industries. The rash of fines levied against MSBs in 2017 alone indicates that, if anything, FinCEN is ramping up its AML efforts. If you own an MSB, now is the time to carefully evaluate your AML and compliance programs to ensure that you are meeting all federal and state requirements.

FinCEN is on the lookout for failure to comply with AML requirements, BSA violations, and failure to Know Your Customer. How can your MSB ensure compliance while protecting itself from both illegal activity and the resulting fines? You should implement strict check cashing process, design safe opening and closing procedures, and conduct regular employee training. In addition, you should employ an MSB compliance expert to design a strong compliance program. These steps will help you stay on top of AML and BSA requirements while reducing fraud at your location(s).

MSBs already face increased scrutiny from banks as a result of their “risky” reputation in the financial services market. FinCEN’s 2013 list of “risky businesses,” since dubbed Operation Choke Point, led to the trend of indiscriminate derisking. This refers to the action of banks closing MSB accounts to shut themselves off from perceived risk and regulatory burden. As a result, MSBs can experience difficulty opening and retaining a reliable MSB business bank account. Since such an account is vital to their operations, many MSBs are forced to deal with interruptions or even permanent business closures.

With this additional pressure from FinCEN MSBs are walking a thin tightrope. In the face of a changing regulatory landscape, securing a reliable MSB bank account can help you focus your energy on designing, building, and maintaining a robust MSB compliance program.

Your Solution for MSB Banking & Regulation Navigation

NCC works to keep you banked and keeps you ahead of (and in compliance with) all MSB regulation. The first piece of the puzzle is to secure a reliable MSB bank. NCC facilitates this through their exclusive network of trusted financial institutions. By using a network of institutions, rather than relying on just one bank, you will enjoy the security that only comes from redundant MSB banking. Redundant banking means that if one bank decides to derisk, there is a network of banks ready and willing to step in and bank your business. You no longer have to worry about indiscriminate derisking.

With banking insecurity off your plate, you can focus your time and energy on running a compliant money service business. NCC helps you do this by providing cutting edge POS technology, which allows you to easily collect comprehensive data for every transaction and customer. This data is communicated to your banking partner, checked against databases, and recorded. All of these actions keep you in compliance of AML/BSA regulation, help you prevent fraud, and strengthen your banking relationship.

NCC’s team of MSB compliance experts will help you evaluate your unique risk and implement systems to prevent criminal activity from entering your business. Supportive MSB financial services help you operate efficiently and profitably. These MSB services include extended deposit time, rapid deposit turnaround, armored cash logistics, and money wire capabilities. NCC’s financial services complement your real MSB bank account to bring you a complete MSB banking solution.

As regulation continues to evolve, NCC has your back. If you are ready for a capable and reliable partner for banking and compliance, it’s time to open an account with NCC. A team of MSB experts is standing by to walk you through the simple and expedient application process. Call us or fill out a form to secure your MSB bank account today!


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Our first priority is to keep our customers banked and processing items. Our partnership with multiple MSB-friendly Financial Institutions allows us to meet that goal. If you have questions about establishing a new MSB bank account relationship, or would like help with your current account, please feel free to either e-mail or call us. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week

The MSB Insider

Benefits of MSB Technology & Automation

MSB technology and automation help businesses streamline their processes while improving overall accuracy. In an industry with ever-changing regulation and sky high costs for non-compliance, money service businesses can’t afford to ...(read full article)

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