AML Tools & Toons

Another Blog on the Wall

Warning: this blog is not a blog.  There are no insights on AML Compliance or Sanction Screening or KYC or OFAC or Global PEP lists. This is just therapy for the Author before he initiates himself in the world of social media and content marketing. This blog may contain adult language, Pink Floyd lyrics, Jules Verne quotes and other bad language and characters. This warning is for SEO purposes and may contain active and optimized words that may be otherwise useless.

The Problem

When I was asked by my newly hired social media and marketing associate to start a blog and share my insights and ‘thought leadership’ on the topic of AML Compliance and how costly high-friction systems designed for banks over 20-30 years ago are killing financial innovators and FinTech, my natural response was, No thank you. I don’t want to be just ‘another bloke with a Blog.’ But there was a problem, KYC2020 was ranking poorly in Google searches and something needed to be done. And content marketing, I am told, is a good place to start.

“To be or Not to Be,” That is Not the Question.

Social Media Marketing is something I have actively rejected for too long and for too many reasons, both rational and irrational. But conscientious objection is no longer an option.

Now as I sit here listening to Pink Floyd, I am contemplating just exactly how I participate without having a ‘ghost’ do it for me.  So then… what do I want to be?

After all you already have,

“Thirteen channels of shit on the TV to choose from.”The Wall.

Reconciling the Past

I suppose I should start with reconciling my long-held suspicion of social media platforms.

Did it have its beginning with engineering and Georgia Tech? Or was it at University of Chicago GSB?  No, I believe it is my 20 years in capital markets and FX trading where I institutionalized my contempt for “purpose-driven” social networking and influence peddling into a philosophy.

There is this famous Wall street saying for traders that goes, “Those who Know, don’t Say. Those who Say, Don’t Know.” Trading is a zero-sum game where the motivations for information sharing and social exchange are questioned without question. Thought inception is the greatest fear.

Lessons Learned

KYC2020 is a company of technologists that got started as often engineers foolishly start– to solve a problem. Sales is usually the afterthought, especially when the means to fund new product development are available and founders are product people.

At KYC2020 the problem we wanted to solve was why sanction screening and AML compliance was so costly and cumbersome for FinTech and Money Service innovators. For three (3) years we focused on product development and largely shunned sales and marketing. It was costly, and we did not have the in-house talent. It was a distraction from our primary goal—to create next-generation RegTech services.

With one of my first technology companies, TEKchand, we had a similar problem of limited resources in 2002 to accomplish both product development and marketing goals.  We solved the problem by partnering with managed services providers and went with a white-label distribution model. We avoided a dedicated sales and marketing function all together. The revenue give-up from a re-seller model was roughly equal to the cost of building out the sales/marketing function.

It turned out to be the right business strategy in a slow moving, highly protective industry where brand awareness and marketing only invited threats and unfair business practices from the old guard with considerable bargaining power. But it is certainly not the right strategy for RegTech and FinTech, two of the fastest growing areas in business that are doing so much social good.  Most notably, bring banking to the unbanked, micro-lending to the poorest parts of the world, low cost money remittance to migrant workers for families at home, and much more.  They are disrupting the disrupters, and social media is a powerful enabler.

Social exchange, experience sharing, and thought leadership help entrepreneurs identify and safely navigate the roadblocks and pitfalls that can slow down innovation. Possibly more importantly, social media platforms can be used to call out and start a dialogue on the unfair business practices and barriers to entry put in place by the entrenched players, practices that cause friction and prevent modernization.

I am thinking WAZE here. I wish I had been more vocal about our ATM software technology business.  ATM vendors should have been called out on their business practices.  But that’s a topic for another day.  What matters is that I’ve learned my lesson. With KYC2020, it’s my full intention to use my platform to its greatest effect. If we take WAZE as an example, the power for good with this exchange of social capital is immense. But that power isn’t always used by people with good intentions.

The Dark Side of the Moon

Jules Verne Quote
Wise words to live by.

Though social media marketing can result in a great deal of good and innovation, there are many people that seek to abuse that power. Entire websites and social media accounts established for the singular purpose of amassing impressions, and foot traffic, and clicks. It doesn’t matter if the content shares new ideas. It’s about taking that social power and turning it into tangible capital, then leveraging it to sell something. With most people in the industry clamoring to amass that capital and sell their products, new insights can become the unfortunate casualty of the machine.

So then… what is YOUR motivation, Mr. Bahri? You might be asking.

I don’t know Ringo! let me borrow a line from Jules Verne, Pulp Fiction, “I’m trying.  I am trying real hard to be the Shepherd.”  And “If my answer frightens you, then you should cease asking scary questions.”

Goodbye Blue Skies.  I am leaving you Today.

My disdain of social media for business and marketing is a behavior entrenched in me for over 25 years. It’s difficult to unwind that thread. So, I figured start slowly. I’m fortunate to be in a position in life, as a founder, investor, and business owner to speak freely. And I know you are fortunate enough to already have plenty of thought leaders who can dissect the same topic, offer the same perspective, and sell you a roadmap to success.

I want to be different. To speak from failures, be controversial, and question why we are on the road instead of trying to sell you the roadmap. To question the problem instead of trying to sell the solution. But I am not here without a purpose, I too have a product that I believe in, and the urge to sell is strong. But I will keep my motivations in check.

With all that in mind, I am going to start with cartoons.  At least with a cartoon, it’s not a blog! You may not understand what i am saying, like or agree with it. You may question my motive, intelligence, or insight, but at least I won’t be wasting much of your time.

But if the thought does resonate, it can start a dialogue, and it won’t be Just Another Blog on The Wall.

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