This year has been an exciting one for compliance software and advisory company Kinectify. The AML tech startup closed back in August a seed round set to accelerate its technology roadmap; launched with new partners, including Caesars Southern Indiana; and its CEO, Joseph Martin, is now attending G2E Las Vegas with the intention to further expand the firm’s relationships with industry operators.
“We have a unique opportunity at G2E to highlight our revolutionary tech for both the US and Canada markets,” Martin tells Yogonet. In this exclusive interview, the executive also discusses current compliance challenges in the gambling industry, new technologies within AML and risk management; and Kinectify’s expansion plans, among other topics.
What are your expectations for G2E and what opportunities does it bring to Kinectify in terms of conversations and potential deals?
This is a particularly exciting year for G2E. Many folks are ready to get out and connect in person again as so much is happening in the industry, particularly in interactive gaming in the US and Canada. We’re truly witnessing a technological revolution in gaming that is impacting all aspects of the industry and it’s thrilling to be involved.
Kinectify is forming deep partnerships with a wide swath of the industry, from energizing new start-ups to industry titans. As the industry rapidly expands and organizations are quickly scaling, they need a modern AML SaaS partner to underpin that growth. We have a unique opportunity at G2E to deepen those relationships and highlight our revolutionary tech for both the US and Canada markets.
As we see the industry rebound from the pandemic, what are the main inquiries you receive from a compliance and AML standpoint? What are the main compliance-related challenges at the time?
Interactive gaming exploded during the pandemic and risk management is a major component for companies to succeed in this space – both in terms of scaling quickly in a complex regulatory space and also finding efficient solutions to manage operational costs. Many organizations were forced to scale so quickly that they threw a lot of resources at risk management (both on the AML and fraud sides) to support their growth, and now are looking for more efficient solutions to expand their capabilities and better manage their resources.
We hear a lot from gaming organizations about their need for AML-focused visibility into their own data and flexibility. And as gaming is experiencing rapid growth in Canada, we are seeing particular interest in our Canadian-centric module that automates most of the AML regulatory requirements in Ontario, especially around risk assessing players. Gaming organizations rushed into Ontario as that market opened to take advantage of the new and exciting opportunities there, and now they are seeking efficient ways to operationalize the numerous compliance requirements in the jurisdiction.
The Canada story illustrates the new reality of gaming: organizations must move quickly and respond to market opportunities to succeed. Those that are not agile, modern, and responsive, will fall behind. Compliance can be a powerful business facilitator and differentiator when it’s underpinned by modern scalable technology; or it can bog organizations down and hinder them. Gaming organizations that solve for compliance are better positioned to succeed and can adapt and respond to market conditions and opportunities with less friction. The great lesson of this pandemic area for me is that a new modern era of gaming has arrived and those that operate well in this new paradigm will be better positioned to succeed in the future.
You have expressed concerns that compliance departments may be falling behind, particularly when it comes to technology. What are some of the most common deficiencies you see when tackling compliance, and what explains them?
Gaming compliance professionals are top-notch. I’m one of them, having started my gaming compliance career as an AML analyst at Caesars Entertainment. Many of my friends work across compliance in commercial, tribal, and interactive gaming organizations and do excellent work for the industry. The tools that have been historically available to gaming compliance professionals are outdated and cannot deliver a full scope of the features needed for today’s gaming compliance. This side of gaming is one of the last verticals to be modernized in gaming.
One of the most common deficiencies I have seen is around transaction monitoring. The role of technology in transaction monitoring is to surface transactions that appear to indicate suspicious activity, and also to present the information relevant to evaluate the activity. Most software in the gaming market today only has rudimentary rules, and if a transaction breaks this rule, an alert is produced. This creates large volumes of false flags and lacks the data gathering and presentation element. An analyst is left to dig through their native systems to gather information and analyze it to figure out if the alert was suspicious. This takes 45 minutes on average per alert, limiting an analyst to only working 8-10 alerts per day as opposed to 15-30 alerts per day, which is more common for AML analysts in other industries.
Technology working in partnership with compliance analysts can address deficiencies like this and the many others that exist. The deficiencies are not in effort or skill, but are rather due to a lack of having true technology partners that are working in close collaboration with gaming compliance professionals to deliver needed capabilities through modern software.
Which new advances in technology can provide a better approach to compliance, and how is Kinectify leveraging them within its solutions?
AML technology has significantly advanced in recent years with the introduction of secure cloud environments, real-time API technology, NoSQL databases, graph technology, machine learning, and a litany of other impactful technologies. These advances allow big data to be consumed, processed, and analyzed in milliseconds. These technologies also facilitate automated workflows that can tie a comprehensive set of features together into a beautiful and elegant user interface.
One of the most popular technological advances in compliance is link analysis, which is the ability of certain modern software to identify connections between data points. Some of these tools can process millions of data points in milliseconds, allowing users to immediately see critical connections between players, transactions, and associated metadata.
Kinectify uses a wide set of modern technology to ingest data from various sources, monitor transactions for suspicious activity, facilitate international investigative research, produce risk scores for all players, submit required government filings, and automate the workflows connecting all these features together in a sophisticated, yet user-friendly, interface. We have recently released two blog articles covering this topic.
Back in August, Kinectify closed a seed round co-led by OpenBet, Acies Investments and EBCI. How will this strategic investment be used and what new opportunities does it open to the company?
We’re excited to partner with such a seasoned and experienced set of investors. Each investor brings a unique perspective and level of experience to our organization and we’re grateful for their contributions, both on the financial and business advisory sides.
We’re using the funds nearly exclusively on accelerating our technology roadmap. Kinectify is deploying its core AML offering with its robust sophisticated capabilities and enhancing our next modules, which will continue to expand the capabilities of gaming risk management departments and increase their efficiency. We are truly building a muscular technology team and delivering capabilities previously unseen in gaming compliance. This is an exciting time for us as we bring our vision to life and deliver an impactful core offering for gaming risk management operations.
At the time, EBCI announced it would be launching Kinectify’s platform at its Caesars Southern Indiana property and future locations. What benefits will the company’s compliance and AML solution provide the operator, and how will it be adapted when it is live in more than one property?
We are live at Caesars Southern Indiana! The team was fully trained in under 6 hours and their capabilities were greatly expanded. At the click of a button they can automate their investigative research process and have access to information on over 6 billion people in over 60 languages and 300 million companies, including corporate records, net worth estimates, negative news, regulatory actions, political exposure, and sanctioned actors. For the first time, they also have risk scoring across every single player in real-time.
Next, we are rolling out transaction monitoring and SAR filing capabilities to Caesars Southern Indiana, underpinned by sophisticated behavioral-based algorithms, advanced data visualizations, and automated SAR filing capabilities. As EBCI takes on more gaming operations, we will onboard these additional properties, giving EBCI a single enterprise view of all their properties so compliance can be centrally managed with greater efficiency as they continue to scale their operations and product offerings.