A better gatekeeper against money laundering

With well-designed processes, banks prevent criminal activity and money laundering. By applying behavioural insights, we help to increase the effectiveness of these processes.

“It was incredibly satisfying to be able to work in close cooperation with this bank on a social issue such as KYC. The employees' passion for improving this process and their genuine curiosity about using behavioural knowledge to make an impact was wonderful to witness!”

Merijn Duchatteau, consultant at &samhoud

Crime undermines the economic, social and political environment and money laundering plays a crucial role in this. Only then is criminal money really worth something. It is estimated that several billion euros are laundered annually in the Netherlands from Dutch criminal activities. Tens of billions of euros are channeled through the Netherlands from international criminal activities. Therefore, money laundering is a serious threat to the economy and affects the integrity of the financial sector. Banks – as ‘gatekeepers of the financial system’ – play an important role in preventing criminal activities and money laundering. When banks perform effectively, they make an important social contribution in the fight against (financial economic) crime. The fact that banks play a crucial role in this matter is also evident in the fact that the government fines them when they do not properly fulfil their role as gatekeepers.


To prevent criminal activities and money laundering, banks set up a ‘Know-Your-Customer’ process to get a good idea of their customers’ identities. When setting up such a process, the focus is often on formal factors, and less on human behaviour and pitfalls. What we bring to this equation is an awareness of behaviour in the workplace: How do people work together? What social norms or organizational goals influence their behaviour? Through combining in-depth knowledge of risk processes and behavioural science, we analysed key behavioural risks such as unconscious bias, psychological distance and ‘us versus them’ dynamics between different teams working together on the same process. In order to positively influence behaviour, interventions such as nudges and gamification were designed, which seamlessly fit in to everyday reality. Immediate results were a better flow in the entire process and more mutual trust between the employees involved.


Influencing the behaviour in this way resulted in a better functioning Know-Your-Customer process, designed to prevent criminal activities and money laundering. Our insights and tools, including nudges and gamifications, were well received by both managers and staff. Our insights and tools are currently being scaled up throughout the organisation to further increasing the effectiveness of behavioural influencing.