Spotlight on Chipper ID: Talking commonality, cause and collaboration with OpenSanctions

Spotlight on Chipper ID: Talking commonality, cause and collaboration with OpenSanctionsSpotlight on Chipper ID: Talking commonality, cause and collaboration with OpenSanctions

At Chipper, we place great importance on fast, accurate access to data. Never more so than when relying on the information to mitigate risk, and keep our company and customers safe and secure. 

One way we action this at Chipper is in collaboration with OpenSanctions. OpenSanctions tracks sanctions and financial restrictions on assets and individuals – helping companies to screen potential customers before allowing them access to products and services. It’s no surprise they are the team behind many of our critical checks and balances as we on-board new users. 

OpenSanctions combines lists of international sanctions targets, known criminal figures and politically exposed persons (PEPs) from over 80 data sources, covering 240+ countries and territories. Yet, what truly sets OpenSanctions apart is the delightful paradox: their secret sauce is exceptionally public. Not only is the data fully browseable on the web, but all of the technology involved – from the data pipeline to their screening API software – is open source. When it comes to the machine learning tools used for screening, they publish complete details about their algorithms and their training data so anyone can dive in and review their methodology. 

We think this makes them a particularly interesting partnership for us, one that embodies innovation and transformation. To that end, in collaboration with OpenSanctions, earlier this year we put in place our own screening flow. It was built in-house and forms part of our Chipper ID suite of products, which we previewed at Chipper AI Day. Since rolling out our in-house screening, we've achieved a 99% cost reduction and significantly enhanced match rates – reducing friction for our users and minimizing associated customer-service requirements, allowing us to redirect efforts elsewhere. 

By uniting with OpenSanctions, we took a giant leap towards more efficient, accurate, and accessible screening processes for the continent. To help expand on the story so far and opportunities to come, we sat down with Friedrich Lindenberg, Founder of OpenSanctions, to hear his point of view on partnership, innovation and data-driven risk mitigation.

Friedrich Lindenberg, Founder, OpenSanctions

At OpenSanctions, what problem are you trying to solve? 

We’re making open building blocks for fighting financial crime. With the datasets and technology we publish, companies can build better screening technology to identify risky entities they should not do business with (or where caution is needed). Since our roots are in anti-corruption investigative reporting, our data is also open to civil society and media to use completely for free. Another key part of our strategy is to work with open data initiatives, such as Open Ownership, GLEIF, OpenCorporates and others to build small pieces of data and technology that fit together seamlessly into custom solutions for compliance.

Tell us about how you first got to know Chipper?

With the fintech ecosystem being relatively close-knit, Chipper has long been on our radar. When the team at Chipper decided to try out some of our technology, we began an ongoing conversation to swap ideas and grow understanding. It was after a period of time as a customer – using OpenSanctions to enable their business to run efficiently – that the Chipper team approached us with the idea of flipping things around and turning our existing relationship into a commercial partnership. That is the beauty of operating with the scale and pace of our organizations – you can quickly pivot and seize the moment for the benefit of our businesses and customers.

What made Chipper the right partner for OpenSanctions? 

There is inherent commonality in both the Chipper mission and what we stand for at OpenSanctions. Both our organizations provide infrastructure and tools that help level up access to markets, information and access. That ambitious, mission-driven outlook is enticing in itself. Coupled with Chipper’s vision of connecting the people of Africa to the global economy meant the partnership was increasingly important. The opportunities to bring our teams together, to push boundaries and see what we could achieve together was a no-brainer.  

What do you think about utilizing AI within your industry and business?

We believe AI can help to automate a lot of the detection of financial crime, like is demonstrated with Chipper ID, but it will also be used in its commission. Criminals are often great innovators, adopting technology in ways more creative than many startups.

When it comes to the use of AI in financial services, we think it’s also important to remain conscious that any automated decision-making will directly affect individuals and small businesses, their access to finance and their ability to work with each other. What counts here isn’t so much the flashy prototype, but having processes that make sure people can be heard, and complex social realities will not be oversimplified by technology in ways that create new inequities.

What’s next for OpenSanctions?

As the OpenSanctions core product, our sanctions and risk dataset, the screening API and our other technology is maturing, there are two really big challenges we’re looking at:

One of them is mapping out PEPs in countries around the world. These are people who have political power and control over the monies in their jurisdictions, and where financial service providers need to introduce additional checks to make sure they don’t spot signs of corruption.

The other big challenge for us is company ownership: while it is easy to list out sanctioned companies, it’s much harder to understand which other entities – sometimes offshore and shell companies – are part of those concerns. But these subsidiaries, for example companies linked to the Russian arms industry, are key tools in the evasion of sanctions, and, in the case of Russia, the continued production of arms that will be used against Ukrainian citizens.

Learn how the Chipper Cash and OpenSanctions partnership is helping supercharge user verification on the continent, through the all-new