We talked to Antoine Rizk of Flaminem on how to ensure compliance with the multiple anti-money laundering and financing regulations and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Antoine Rizk: Like many people, some of us caught a mild version of the COVID-19, but gladly we have made it through and are doing well, thank you!
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Flaminem.
Antoine Rizk: I have a B.Sc. and a Ph.D in Computer Science from Sussex University. I then came over to France as a research officer with the French National Institute for Research on IT (INRIA), where I worked on the first Hypertext tools and set up the first European Conference on Hypertext.
I founded one of the first INRIA startup companies, which I sold ten years later to the Sopra-Steria Group. I created two subsequent startups and acted as a Partner/VP Product Marketing within the Sopra-Steria group. In parallel, I was an Associate Professor at the University of Evry, south of Paris.
I invested in and joined Flaminem two years ago. Flaminem was positioning itself on making and selling software tools for military intelligence. We carried out a strategic pivot and became a well-know software vendor of KYC due diligence for Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism.
How does Flaminem innovate?
Antoine Rizk: We have a great team of R&D. We innovate on two fronts, namely the UX that makes us unique as a tool for KYC due diligence of legal entities. We use AI to extract cap tables from legal text documents automatically.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Antoine Rizk: The Coronavirus did not affect our operations, teleworking, and Visio conferences were already commonplace and the norm in our company. However, the Coronavirus slowed business activity because many prospects went on hold in Q2 and Q3 until the economy clears up. Things are back to normal now.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Antoine Rizk: Gladly, our cash flow allows us to keep going. We even accelerated our R&D investment and marketing investment to be ready on the forefront immediately the crisis is over.
We had to create our webinar series, which met great success.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Flaminem in the future?
Antoine Rizk: From my long experience as an entrepreneur, I have learnt that the remedy for stress and anxiety is a proper ordering of priorities. This period was no exception. However, the team had to manage the difficulty of not seeing each other for an extended period.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Antoine Rizk: There are many players in the KYC sector. They are all, however, pure players on one aspect of the KYC process. Some provide sanctions databases. Others provide tools to validate identities. We are unique because we orchestrate the entire process and call upon these players when necessary. We provide a one-stop-shop for KYC in the enterprise, with too sophisticated features to help carry out complex due diligence of individuals and legal entities.
Your final thoughts?
Antoine Rizk: We feel the end of the tunnel is near, and are very optimistic about 2021. The Coronavirus has generated a surge in fraud and financial crime because many thought that controls were at a low pace. However, KYC regulations are getting more and more complex, and their applicability is stretching to sectors belong to banking and finance. The market for KYC tools is still in its infancy and is promising to be huge.