Singapore-based regulatory tech firm Tookitaki raises $26 million in funding

Tookitaki was co-founded in 2014 by chief executive officer Abhishek Chatterjee (left) and Jeeta Bandopadhyay, who is the firm's chief operating officer.
Tookitaki was co-founded in 2014 by chief executive officer Abhishek Chatterjee (left) and Jeeta Bandopadhyay, who is the firm's chief operating officer.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Singapore-based regulatory technology firm Tookitaki has raised US$19.2 million (S$26.1 million) in Series A funding as it seeks to expand its presence in international markets.

The company has received $11.7 million in investment, adding to the $7.5 million raised earlier this year.

A group, led by Viola Fintech and SIG Asia Investment, was responsible for the fresh injection of funds, which will help Tookitaki increase its employee headcount across its three offices in Singapore, India and the United States by up to 100 per cent, as well as to fine-tune its products.

"Our vision has always been for our compliance technology to become globally accepted by financial institutions around the world, and (the investments) put us in a better place to deliver on that vision," said Tookitaki co-founder and chief executive officer Abhishek Chatterjee on Monday (Nov 25)

Tookitaki offers two artificial intelligence-powered software platforms. The first is an anti-money laundering solution that aims to help banks better monitor and detect suspicious transactions, and comply with regulatory requirements.

The second streamlines an increasingly costly and time-consuming data validation process known as reconciliation that is used in the finance and accounting sectors, among others.

Tookitaki was co-founded in 2014 by Mr Abhishek and Ms Jeeta Bandopadhyay, who is the firm's chief operating officer. Mr Abhishek, a former associate at JP Morgan, noticed in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis that regulators became stricter over financial checks and balances.

At the same time, the volume of digital banking and e-commerce transactions was rising steadily, putting pressure on the rules-based systems traditionally used by banks to detect money laundering, and leading to banks incurring huge fines from regulators.

In the most recent such example, Australia's second largest bank Westpac was accused by the country's financial watchdog last Wednesday of 23 million money-laundering breaches and failing to report more than US$7.5 billion (S$10.2 billion) in international transfers over a six-year period. Each breach carries a maximum penalty of $14.3 million.

"One problem with the rules-based system is that the bad guys also know the rules and are using it as a not-to-do list. Another is that it tends to produce too many false positives," said Mr Abhishek.

"What we try to do with our machine-learning algorithm is to understand the behaviour of banks' customers, to both learn how to detect new instances of risky transactions and reduce the number of false alerts."

 
 

A pilot run by UOB Bank last year using Tookitaki's anti-money laundering technology achieved a 5 per cent increase in true positives and 40 per cent decrease in false positives.

Mr Abhishek said that aside from expanding into the US and Europe, the company also intends to improve its products by investing in the growth of its research and engineering teams in Singapore and India.

About 60 per cent of Tookitaki's 70 current employees are based in Singapore.

"With the almost-twenty years' experience that Viola has in the anti-money laundering sector, we found Tookitaki's approach to be very unique," said Viola Fintech general partner Tomer Michaeli.

"Its pragmatic way of creating an overlay on top of legacy systems helps increase accuracy and significantly lower operating costs for financial institutions," he added.