Tag Archives: Covid

FCA review finds weaknesses in challenger banks’ financial crime controls

A recent review conducted by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has found that some challenger banks have significant weaknesses within their financial crime controls and need to improve how they assess financial crime risk.

The review, which was conducted during 2021, has revealed that, in some instances, challenger banks did not have financial crime risk assessments in place for their customers. It also identifies a rise in the number of Suspicious Activity Reports reported by challenger banks, in turn raising concerns about the adequacy of these banks’ checks when taking on new customers.

The review focused on challenger banks that were relatively new to the market and offered a quick and easy application process. This included six challenger retail banks, which primarily consist of digital banks, and covered over eight million customers.

The review did find some evidence of good practice, for example when it comes to the innovative use of technology to identify and verify customers at speed.

Cyber crime on the rise

Sridhar Iyengar, managing director at Zoho Europe, commented: “Today, cyber crime and fraudulent activity is rapidly on the rise with more sophisticated episodes taking place all over the world. It’s no surprise that challenger banks are being impacted, but being able to verify customers at speed is no use if suspicious activity is being missed. As it stands, money launderers are still able to evade detection by capitalising on the shortfalls within a banks’ technological infrastructure.”

Iyengar continued: “There are many new features that can help make systems more secure or raise red flags early. Companies including banks can now benefit from the likes of Artificial Intelligence-based systems to help identify potential fraudulent activities. Immediate action can be taken and customers will remain sheltered from risk.”

Further, Iyengar stated: “In highly competitive markets such as banking, having modern IT systems in place can make a real difference in terms of providing business value and positively impact customer trust and the customer experience as a whole. For market challengers, this is even more important.”

The growing cyber risk, coupled with the growth of hybrid working, which can potentially add further security risks, makes it imperative for all businesses to assess their current IT systems.

Iyengar concluded: “Keeping operations secure, efficient and compliant with regulations is a different endeavour to what it was just a few years ago, and demands that all organisations modernise their IT systems such that the latter are fit for purpose in the post-COVID business landscape.”

Three-year strategy

Sarah Pritchard, executive director for markets at the FCA, said: “Our three-year strategy highlights our commitment to reducing and preventing financial crime. This is important in terms of creating confidence for consumers and market participants in financial services and in demonstrating that the UK is a safe place in which to do business.”

Pritchard concluded: “Challenger banks are an important part of the UK’s retail banking offer. However, there cannot be a trade-off between quick and easy account opening and robust financial crime controls. Challenger banks should consider the findings of this review and continue to enhance their own financial crime systems in order to prevent harm being done by criminals.”

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Databac celebrates 50th Anniversary with new branding and revamped website

ID solutions provider and card manufacturer Databac is celebrating its 50th Anniversary of operations by unveiling a brand new look and launching a revamped website. Founded back in 1970, the business has grown from a local company offering laminated cards to become an international organisation with a wealth of experience in all aspects of identification technologies.

To mark this significant milestone, Databac has developed a new logo and created a new website, both of which better reflect the company as it is today: a dynamic, experienced and global player in the security industry.

“Databac’s growth has followed the evolution of the security market for half a century,” commented Databac’s CEO Charles Balcomb. “The industry has little in common with the days of punch-hole Hollerith cards, which we made during our early days. The world today is much more connected, with sophisticated solutions that are highly secure, personalisable and multi-functional. Our new look represents who we are now: a specialist partner for our clients, empowering them to manage their security needs through our identification solutions with a keen emphasis on sustainability.”

The 50th Anniversary coincides with an unprecedented situation initiated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To help manage the Coronavirus outbreak, Databac has incorporated new hygiene and safety solutions into its portfolio, ranging from anti-microbial card holders through to touch-free biometrics complete with mask detection.

Databac’s evolution builds on its ability to adapt to a changing world. This agility is reflected in the company’s dual business model of in-house manufacturing complete with sourcing from qualified partners.

The company’s factory in Surrey produces bespoke, multi-functional cards, while the facility in Barcelona harbours a bureau dedicated to card personalisation and encoding. These operations are complemented by identification systems, printers, readers, software and accessories courtesy of Databac’s global network of strategic partners.

*The full range of solutions and services can be found on the new website at www.databac.com

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Mitie appointed to Government agreement for community COVID testing sites

FM solutions specialist Mitie has been named as a supplier on the Crown Commercial Service agreement for COVID community testing sites. The appointment enhances Mitie’s position as a key supporter of testing services which are a critical part of the UK’s strategy to combat the Coronavirus.

The agreement covers new COVID test sites to be opened as needed by local authorities for short periods (of up to 12 weeks). Mitie will potentially offer test site management and support services to local authorities across 11 regions: Yorkshire and Humber, the North West, the North East, the West Midlands, the East Midlands, the South West, the South East and London, with an option to add Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to the mix.

Mitie will be providing security officers, registration assistants, processing operatives and test assistants as well as cleaning services at the sites along with any additional services required by the local authorities involved. With testing central to the UK’s Coronavirus recovery strategy, Mitie will continue to play a key part in supporting its delivery.

Mitie has been supporting the country directly in its COVID-19 response since the beginning of the pandemic through community testing centres, the first of which opened in Inverness on 25 April last year, and via the provision of essential services for hospitals, including the Nightingale Hospital in London’s Docklands and the Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig – the Dragon’s Heart Hospital – in Cardiff. 

More widely, Mitie now operates over 150 testing sites for public and private sector clients, while the company’s staff members have continued to provide key services at critical sites such as ports and airports right across the country.

Simon Venn, chief Government and strategy officer at Mitie, said: “I’m delighted to be extending our vital work at the heart of the UK’s Coronavirus response to support local communities with their testing programmes. I’m proud of the commitment of our Mitie colleagues in delivering these critical services. They truly are front line heroes. We continue to play our part in keeping the country running and also supporting its recovery.”

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“Industry’s workforce needs more protection” urges Magenta Security’s leader

With the first anniversary of the initial COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown rapidly approaching, guarding specialist Magenta Security has been increasing its investment in mental health support for colleagues across the business.

“Like so many other key workers, security professionals are on the front line, keeping people safe,” stated Magenta Security’s managing director Abbey Petkar. “Again, like others they are at risk from COVID or indeed other illnesses and even physical attack. They’re also at risk emotionally and psychologically.”

According to Petkar (pictured below), the national and international press and other industry sectors have been regularly highlighting the mental health challenges faced by so many at the moment. However, as an industry, Petkar feels the security sector is doing very little to raise awareness of – and garner support for – security’s hard working and under-pressure workforce.

Petkar pointed out: “Mental health issues affect us all, from the parents struggling to home school their children through to furloughed workers, the unemployed and the front line key workers, the majority of whom haven’t seen their friends for months. Statistically speaking, the majority of the security workforce is male and, sadly, very few people realise that young to middle aged men are among the most vulnerable when it comes to suicide risk. We must all do what we can to protect our workforce, not just from the obvious like the virus, but also the silent dangers.”

Ongoing support

Magenta Security is working closely with its entire workforce to ensure ongoing mental health support for its team members, their families and any of the communities with whom they work. 

A key part of that process involves gathering advice and thoughts from highly respected sources and sharing them through a variety of channels. The business has focused on mental and physical health advice, offering five top tips for individuals keen to look after their mental health during the ongoing lockdown:

(1) Keep regular contact with friends and family. Social isolation is known to be detrimental to mental health and the personal sense of identity. Schedule video calls with the people you would usually see in person to help you lift your spirits and share your feelings

(2) Minimise engagement with the news if it’s making you feel anxious. Schedule set times to check for updates and take practical steps to protect yourself and your loved ones rather than worry about what you cannot change

(3) Provide help to your loved ones, neighbours or the local community. Helping people can keep you busy, give you a sense of purpose and connect you to others. Check-in on friends via digital platforms, host an online class or offer services to vulnerable people

(4) Maintain your schedule as much as possible. Without our usual cues, it’s easy to slip into bad habits such as sleeping late or skipping meals. Set and stick to times for sleeping, eating, working, exercise and leisure (5) Be kind to yourself and accept failings. This is a difficult time for everyone, and you should not expect yourself to be as happy and productive as you normally would be. Forgive yourself when you don’t feel that you’ve lived up to your usual standards

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ITW Security Division launches new website and series of White Papers

ITW Security Division has re-launched its website for the personal ID and secure Government documents market (www.itwsecuritydivision.com) and provided the first in its new series of White Papers online.

The new website has been designed to highlight ITW Security Division’s complete range of security documents, features and technologies for Governments, project integrators and issuers in a modern and user-friendly experience, helping visitors to the site in locating the information they need much more quickly and easily.

The new image-led website is now much clearer and easier to navigate enabling users to search for relevant products, Case Studies and news that showcase the company’s Covid, Fasver and Imagedata product portfolio.

Additionally, a new Resources section also builds on ITW Security Division’s knowledge base and shares this with registered customers and visitor’s to the site.


One new White Paper entitled ‘Level 1 Security – Long Live The King!’ presents the results of ITW Security Division’s own research and the continued demand for Level 1 Security features within the market, as well as recent developments in holographic features.

New White Papers will continue to be added, exploring ITW Security Division’s products, issues within the security documentation market and providing help in protecting documents and ID from counterfeiters.

“ITW Security Division offers a wealth of products and services to Governments and companies worldwide to enhance and protect their security documents,” explained Bob Carey, ITW Security Division’s business unit manager. “We wanted our website not only to reflect the breadth of our capabilities, but also to help users find inspiration and ideas for their projects.”

Carey added: “We work exceptionally closely with all of our customers to identify and meet the demanding production requirements of their personal ID and secure documents worldwide. Our website aims to truly represent this fact in both a highly visual and interesting fashion.”

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