Top 4 Global Watchlist Search Techniques


Since criminals have become more advanced in committing financial crimes by exploiting financial institutions, including banks and credit unions, imposing economic sanctions on individuals, countries, organizations, and groups of entities from the regulatory bodies has become a tool to combat financial crimes.


Global watchlist is one such list of people prohibited from doing trade financial transactions and even putting a traveling ban on them. When a person is sanctioned by an international organization or the local domestic regulatory body, the person is added to the global watchlist.

 Considering the importance of AML measures, the global watchlist checks are the most critical tool in fighting money laundering. AML regulations strictly oblige financial institutions to screen new customers against the global watchlist while onboarding them. 

 This blog will highlight the importance of global watchlist searches and how they can help financial institutions detect and combat money laundering activities.


 Understanding the Global AML Watchlist search?


International agencies and local regulatory bodies designate hundreds of watchlists. Global watchlist search means screening and monitoring your customer’s data against all available databases of suspected or known to be involved in illegal activities such as financial crimes, money laundering, human trafficking, drug trafficking, human rights abuse, and so on. the list of such criminal often maintained by the international and local bodies with a purpose to help the financial institutions to comply with legal requirements and avoid any interaction with criminal entities.

Five major Global Watchlist

  • OFAC Sanctions List (USA)

OFAC sanction list Maintained by the U.S. “Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control”. It mainly focuses on imposing sanctions related to the economy and trade.

  • UN Sanctions List

The United Nations Security Council maintains sanctions lists that apply to all member states, targeting entities involved in terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to international peace and security.

  • Interpol Red Notice


Interpol publish the list of those people are subjected to be arrest at the spot. And these list could be used by any enforcement agency around the world. 

  • World Bank Debarred List

As the world bank introduced the financing scheme to countries. So if they publish the list of those individual who are not illegible for world bank financed projects. 


 What are the best Global Watchlist matching techniques?

Getting the desired and accurate results is very important in global watchlist searches. Some techniques could be used for smooth and reliable searching against the global watchlist databases.


  • Exact Matching

The compliance team most commonly uses the exact matching technique within an organization, as it exactly matches the database available in the organization with the global watchlist. Though it reduces the chances of false positives and increases accuracy, a little misspelling in the searching phase could be devastating for the company.


  • Fuzzy Matching

This way, the algorithms do not precisely identify the exact searches but appear with results close enough to the query. They consider all typographical errors, variations in spelling, and transpositions, just like the Google search engine does.


  • Phonetic Matching  

This way, the focus remains on how the name sounds rather than the spelling because the algorithm encodes the name y sound instead of spelling and other queries. 

  • Machine Learning and AI models

Automated global watchlist search is the most reliable and efficient way for financial institutions. A model integrated with AI and ML can identify patterns and similarities given to the system that traditional algorithms do not detect easily. Though the technique is a bit costly due to the implementation of such technology, its high adaptability and accuracy with large datasets make it more accurate.

 Global watchlist Screening Solution for business and Financial Institutions

Financial institutions must comply with AML regulations, which obligate the business to verify customer identification and screen and monitor customer information comprehensively. The following screening process must be included in the financial organization’s compliance program to avoid any compliance action against the institution.

 Enhanced Customer Due Diligence

So, before onboarding any new customer, businesses need to obtain every bit of information about their clients, including their name, DOB, address, source of income, and other essential details, to check the customer history against the global watchlist screening.

 PEP Screening

It has been witnessed that politically exposed people often use the financial channel to legalize the money obtained through corruption or bribery. So, businesses should check whether the customer is PEP. If he is, check his risk score and apply all necessary measures to avoid exposing him to criminal activity.

 Adverse Media Screening

Though only some news stories circulating on media outlets are authentic and accurate, financial institutions still need to check the possibilities of these news stories, particularly when they relate to their customers. So, the firm should screen them against the updated adverse media list.

 Global watchlist screening could be hectic for organizations, considering the number of sanctioned lists they must go through, but what if you have only one solution for all your problems? AML Watcher offers Global watchlist screening and monitoring solutions with advanced AI and ML-integrated software that makes your screening process quick and accurate. 

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