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Tuesday, 02 November 2021 10:03

First AML earns financial backing from Blackbird Ventures

Founders Bion Vehdin, Milan Cooper, and Chris Caigou Founders Bion Vehdin, Milan Cooper, and Chris Caigou

Anti-money laundering tech company First AML has raised $28.7 million (NZ$30 million) in a Series B funding led by investing firm Blackbird Ventures.

The investment is supported by Headline Ventures, and existing investors, Pushpay founder Eliot Crowther, Bedrock Capital, and Icehouse Ventures.

Money laundering is a big problem in Australia, and First AML is offering a solution to combat this. Over the past few months, it has seen a number of leading Australian brands investigated over potential money laundering breaches by Austrac, despite having spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build internal processes to stay compliant.

First AML solves this problem by digitising the customer onboarding process, and ensuring that all reporting entities are meeting compliance requirements as per the AML/CTF act.

Since launching the platform in Australia earlier this year, First AML has hired more than 15 staff locally and is on track to hire another eight before the year ends. The investment will be used to double the team from 90 to 180 employees globally by the end of next year, as well as global expansion into Europe.

“Blackbird heavily relies on First AML. That is partly what is special about this deal - how intimately connected we are to the customer pain point, our love for the product roadmap, and the network effect beginning to emerge in the product and business model,” Blackbird Ventures partner Samantha Wong says.

Wong will also join the First AML board, bringing her experience as a top tier lawyer, and familiarity with First AML’s target industries to our growth strategy.

"The market for AML has grown nearly 20% in the past year to US$214 billion - there is a massive global market opportunity for us now. With groundbreaking investigations around tax havens and money laundering across multiple countries, the AML compliance regime is now shifting to non-financial businesses globally. This raise will help us scale, fueling further global expansion and product development to supercharge our network effect,” First AML co-founder and CEO Milan Cooper comments on the raise.

First AML’s network effect means that as the number of our customers grows, more data is included in the central repository. If a verification already exists within the repository, it can be retrieved immediately with the client’s consent, meaning the AML verification is instantaneous - this currently accounts for 25% of all checks, says First AML.

This ‘AML verified’ parcel of information means companies, trusts, and individuals undertaking repeated AML checks is a thing of the past.

In 2020, First AML raised $7.3 million in a Series A funding round, led by US-based Bedrock Capital, with support from existing investors. First AML’s regulatory technology (regtech) platform streamlines anti-money laundering compliance for the likes of financial service providers, law firms, real estate agencies and accountants.

The company’s end-to-end customer due diligence platform automates the identity verification of customers, giving companies complete visibility and management oversight of the process, minimising money laundering risk.

The platform also includes improved biometric identification for remote verification and new visual tools to help users understand the ownership of complex company structures.

Milan Cooper founded First AML in 2017 with his two co-founders, Bion Behdin and Chris Caigou, who were working as corporate bankers when the first phase of AML regulations was introduced for banks in 2013.

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