Recently, Ping Express, a Texas-based company has been in the news over its failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering programme. In addition, it was discovered that the company had conducted money transfer services in about 5 States in the United States where it wasn’t licensed. As a result, both the CEO of Ping Express Anselem Oshianebe and the COO, Opeyemi Odeyale have been sentenced to 27 months’ imprisonment by a US court. The company itself faces five years of probation and a fine of up to $500,000.
This development should serve as a wake-up call to fintech companies and other businesses to become intentional about staying compliant with the laws and regulations of the territory in which they seek to do business.
WHAT IS REGULATORY COMPLIANCE?
Within this context, regulatory compliance is the state of an organization’s adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines or policies relevant to its processes and sector.
In Nigeria, the fintech space, for instance, is primarily governed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, which provides several guidelines for various fintech service categories. We also have the Nigerian Data Protection Regulation, which regulates organizations that have access to and control of people’s data, etc.
Any business providing services within the sectors mentioned above, must ensure that its operations are in line with the relevant laws provided by the regulatory authority.
WHY REGULATORY COMPLIANCE IS IMPORTANT FOR YOUR BUSINESS
First, let us state that no business is “too small” to enforce compliance. You may choose to disregard this in the beginning, so as to save cost, but the consequences for non-compliance when discovered can be very costly in the long run. Remember the Ping Express story? Sadly, there are several start-ups and brick-and-mortar businesses that have suffered similar fates as Ping Express.
In no particular order, below are reasons why regulatory compliance is important;
- It preserves your business’s reputation: Imagine, for instance, a bank you’ve patronized for years suddenly makes news headlines for money laundering activities. What would be your first reaction? Due to concerns that the bank might be shut down by the authorities, you may consider withdrawing your funds from your existing account with the bank in question. Nothing feels terrible as when a business makes the news for failing to meet up with regulatory requirements. Such a business is more likely to lose its customers’ trust. Worst still, your business license could be revoked by the authorities, thereby making it impossible to keep up with operations.
- It helps you stay up to date with constant changes within your sector: Ever heard the saying: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”? No doubt, staying compliant might seem like an uphill task for most businesses. But with the right compliance team and structure in place, your business will always be in touch with recent updates within your sector. This also makes it easy for your business to adjust its operations in line with regulatory standards.
- Reduces risks and protects your company against financial losses: Ensuring compliance with your team and technical resources can protect your business from risks as well as financial losses incurred as penalties, fines or monetary compensation to injured third parties for damages.
- Improves efficiency: Every business thrives on efficiency. To achieve this, you must understand your current business processes, identify bottlenecks and devise new processes that eliminate existing bottlenecks in order to achieve your goal. This is what regulatory compliance does for your business.Take the NDPR for instance. It requires persons or entities who store and control users’ data to deploy extra measures to ensure their users’ data is safe. As a business whose process entails taking in and storing sensitive data of your clients such as emails and phone numbers, complying with this requirement entails taking stock of how your business currently takes in and stores client data, and deploying better measures to ensure that their data is properly secured to avoid a breach. This might involve, deploying new and reliable software or updating existing software.
The measures highlighted in the above scenario will, no doubt improve efficiency in the area of processing and storage of your clients’ or users’ sensitive information.
- Gives detailed insight about your business and provides strategies to do better: Flowing from point 4 above, the current state of compliance in your business can expose hidden insights about your business you were never aware of. This will give you and your compliance team an opportunity to put proper measures in place to do better.
HOW TO ENSURE REGULATORY COMPLIANCE IN YOUR BUSINESS
No doubt, ensuring legal compliance could seem like an insurmountable task considering other aspects of business operations you have to deal with. It is, however, not impossible to accomplish. To achieve this, below are our recommendations for ensuring regulatory compliance in your business;
- Hire Legal Compliance Officers: A legal compliance officer would not only keep your business informed about current regulations affecting your sector, but they would detect and prevent risks, stand in to resolve legal and business-related issues likely to occur in this regard, and advise your company where necessary.
You could employ legal compliance officers to work full-time within your company or retain a law firm that would represent your interest as an external legal unit for your business.
- Ensure employees are trained and informed on compliance: Ensuring your business is in line with the current legal requirements would no doubt affect the daily operations of your employees. You must, therefore, ensure your employees are trained in a language they understand on the importance of compliance as well as how regulatory updates affect their daily tasks from time to time.
Such training can be handled by your legal compliance officer.
- Schedule regular audits: Regular internal audits would help expose practices that prevent your business from staying compliant. It is important that such audits be conducted by an external unit to ensure an impartial outcome after investigations.
- Hire a security team and or deploy the right software where necessary: There are software organizations that can handle the technical aspects of compliance. You could deploy them into your business where necessary.
Having a compliance management team is a must-have for all businesses and a proactive attitude toward this is the right way to go. With the right team in place, your business is sure to reduce risks, preserve its brand reputation and enhance efficiency.