As part of the Technology Consulting in Global Community (TCinGC) initiative, I spent ten weeks (May - July 2016), with an Information Systems undegraduate student, working with the Banking Commission (BC) of the Republic of Marshall Islands. Their responsibility is to “regulate the financial system for safety soundness and to deter money laundering and terrorist financing and secure access to the global financial system”. The Banking Commision used to receive all of their information though a paper-based submission process which would then be entered into a single Excel spreadsheet by the already staff-limited team. This process was obviously tedious and took time away from their main job, the analysis of anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism. We created a process for the financial entities on the island to submit transaction and activity reports to the BC electronically and then store the data in a distributed database.
The process involved using an encrypted email so the banks could securely send reports and then setting up a Microsoft Access database to upload the reports. Ultimately, the staff at the BC is now able to perform queries to the database, perform financial intelligence analysis on the data submitted, and generate and send reports to law enforcement in a concise and electronically secured fashion. In addition, we also created an organizational website for the BC that allows new regulations and/or news to be shared publicly versus through word of mouth. A more detailed explanation, along with supporting documents and documentation of the entire process can be found in our Technology Assessment and Final Report.
This was an amazing experience with many highlights (getting scuba diving certified, meeting the president of that time Dr. Hilda Heine, eating fresh tuna sashimi pretty much everyday) as well as many challenges (implementing robust solutions in a context where technology and human resources are scarce, meeting with leaders of financial entities in a really different culture, living in a remote place of roughly 7km2 of land). Nevertheless, it’s an experience I will cherish forever.