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EPISODE 052 : 03/10/2022​

Jaime Ramirez

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Jaime Ramirez is a RegTech leader, serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and executive professional with more than 30 years of experience in business, banking, RegTech, and information technology. He is the founder and CEO of Preventor, a company that provides the next generation in integrated financial crime risk management.

Host: Ned Hayes and Ashley Coates
Guest: Jaime Ramirez

Topics discussed in this episode

  • An in-depth look at cyber security and identity fraud prevention
  • SMBs need the latest cyber security technology
  • Cloud base technology is the answer, and it is here to stay
  • The new pricing model is based on usage and not the initial package

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Audio Transcript

Ned Hayes [00:00:01] Welcome to SparkPlug, where we talk to smart people working at the intersection of business and technology. Brought to you by SnowShoe, your smarter loyalty leader. SparkPlug It’s happy to welcome Jamie Ramirez to the podcast. Jamie is a RegTech Leader, serial entrepreneur, and he’s an angel investor. He has over 30 years of experience in business, banking and information technology. So for the last 18 years, he’s really specialized on the design and development of financial crime, risk management, anti-money laundering and fraud prevention software. So Jamie is the founder and CEO of Preventor that bills itself as a next generation in integrated financial crime risk management. So welcome, Jamie.

Jaime Ramirez [00:00:44] Thank you. Thank you for having me here. 

Ashley Coates [00:00:46] Very glad to be talking with you today, Jamie. Will you start off by giving us some background on your career history?

Jaime Ramirez [00:00:52] Yes. Like you mentioned that for 30 years, working on the financial industry, I used to work for large institutions. Then I opened my own business about 20 years ago and I started work as a consultant services for the banking in South Florida. Then we started working directly with the money laundering of property management solutions and the last five years working directly with digital identity. And today, is trying to catch up with all the new technology that is needed for remote work.  

Ned Hayes [00:01:21] Right. So with the advent of remote working and with the changes that you’ve seen in the industry, what are the emerging threats that you see? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:01:29] One identity theft and cyber security crimes. There is a lot of opportunities now for doing business over the internet because this what everything is needed. There is less and less face to face transactions, so it has to be everything remotely and that initiates and another threats of different kind of crimes and cyber crimes. 

Ned Hayes [00:01:50] Right, so I briefly lived in Argentina, in Latin America, and I know that the tech sector is different in Latin America. And you’re originally from Peru, correct? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:02:00] Correct. Yes, I’m from Peru. 

Ned Hayes [00:02:02] Right. So are there differences between North America and South America in terms of financial crime and how to prevent it? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:02:08] Well, yes, there is a difference because in Latin America, there are more controls, believe it or not, because we used to have for the crime from years ago, different type of crime starting from terrorism. Now the terrorist, narco traffic, the terrorist financed by the narco traffic. So we need to start doing our type of controls from even before the 911. Right. So the different typologies of how do you control the anti-money laundering of fraud prevention? Because obviously, you know, once you put a rule to cover some type anti money laundering, another one starts, right? So it’s like never ending.

Ashley Coates [00:02:45] So Jaime, what are some of the unique challenges that you’ve confronted in your career? Any good stories to share with us about beating the bad guys? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:02:54] Well it’s a very different type of challenge now in different scenarios, like with the digital identity. Now we are facing that, we need more and more the use of technology to prevent recurring customers, either to cover you as to protect your company for a risk and to ask more steps to do to the end customers. Because you, as an end customer, you don’t want that every time you want to log into an application or to an app or to any platform to ask you to be your selfie, move your head from the left to the right to make sure that it’s you, take a picture of your document, take a picture of these, proper address, it is very hectic. So the use of technology on that is to automate those processes to make it simple for the end user. But at the same time, protect the company. So that’s one challenge that we are facing today before obviously back many years ago, after the 9/11, we started working with the challenge of how do we apply the technology to really know the customer? How to apply the technology, to really know that transactional behavior of a customer to make sure it is right or wrong? 

Ned Hayes [00:04:02] Right. So I was just on a plane yesterday, and as I went through the airport, I noticed there was lots of security theater. Things that make people feel safe but actually don’t do much. And I know this because I have some expertize in security and especially physical device security. So we aren’t actually doing much to protect ourselves. We have lots of security theater. So do you think that delta between security, theater and real security is changing? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:04:28] I think so. I think the use of technology, a lot of new biometric methods to analyze you and to automate the processes. It will help the companies to make sure to identify the person and to lower the levels of fraud and also to reduce the interaction with the user. Less interaction of the user, more protection for the company. Which is right now an evolution I would say it because company wants to be protected, so they ask you for do this that, this that, is not comfortable for the end user. Now the other thing I project that is coming, that already start, is the use of that each person has to own their identity. So to identify yourself with a company A or financial institution A, then you have to do the same thing with a B, with a C with a shopping center, with this with that. At the end of the day, you authenticate yourself with 20 companies and if you want to update your address you have to update to everyone. Or if you change your passport or your driving license, you have to authenticate to everyone. So the idea is that everything has to be centralized in your identity, your person, so you own your identity and you are the one that share your identity with others, not the other way. 

Ashley Coates [00:05:41] Absolutely. Let’s back up to the beginning Jaime, tell us when you first became interested in security, management and financial crime prevention. 

Jaime Ramirez [00:05:50] Actually it was not my decision, it happened the day after 9/11. My company used to do consulting services for South Florida Bank here. That was our clients for more than 20 years. The day after 9/11, the regulator sent a letter to all of the banks to start searching for the 19 people from the attacks. So this is when we start and then we keep receiving notifications bulletins from the regulators. You have to do this, you have to do that. This is basically how we started working on this.

Ned Hayes [00:06:19] Right. So you founded Preventor in 2017. So can you tell us the story of what led to founding that company? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:06:25] Yeah. I’ve been working on this for more than 30 years, designing and implementing systems in the United States, in Latin America, and I saw the need that financial institutions from any size, especially the small company, small credit unions, they need to have the latest technology, but not to pay the millions of dollars the large institutions pay. So I decided to design and to have software as a service, cloud based software, meaning that these companies will pay for their usage not for a big license. 

Ned Hayes [00:06:56] Right. 

Jaime Ramirez [00:06:56] But a big implementation. 

Ned Hayes [00:06:58] The 30 years ago, that was a revolutionary concept, right? Nobody was doing that. And so over time, as the world of tech evolved and your business evolved, how have you changed to accommodate the market? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:07:09] Well there is still some friction of some companies that they don’t want to change to the cloud base, they resist the change, saying that it is not secure, you don’t want to expose your clientele to the cloud, that it can be accessed by anyone, but they’re wrong. Because right now the cloud base is even more secure than their own private solutions. So there is still resistance and it’s been changed over the years, but now the need to work remotely most of the channels, I think it is easier to make a decision on that.  

Ned Hayes [00:07:42] Right. I’ll push back on that a little bit because as we know in the computing industry, every old model comes back again. Right. So way back back in the 1970s, we had very powerful servers with very light clients, right? You all had to have right? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:07:57] Correct. 

Ned Hayes [00:07:57] Right. And then over time, the power migrated down to your individual laptops. With Chromebooks, we’re going back to the old model of very powerful in the cloud servers. The cloud is just a bunch of servers sitting in a warehouse, right? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:08:10] Yeah, you’re right. 

Ned Hayes [00:08:12] So it’s the same thing as the old model. And so do you think over time this pendulum will swing back that we will have more power again in the laptop? Or do you think the cloud is here to stay forever? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:08:22] No, I think that the cloud will stay forever. The concept is like you describe it, you’re right. The concept is that we went back to the original. I remember that to the original that cloud, it was on your computer. So you are still responsible for your computer room for everything. 

Ned Hayes [00:08:38] Just to be clear, what you mean is that the company or the university would own the computer servers. They weren’t hosted by a third party like Amazon or Microsoft. 

Jaime Ramirez [00:08:47] Exactly. Yeah. The company, the band, the university, they need to have the computer room set up where you need to have a computer operator 24-7. You need to have compromise expenses. 

Ned Hayes [00:08:59] I think all those people now work for Amazon or for Microsoft, right? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:09:03] Exactly. 

Ned Hayes [00:09:04] Right. Azure or AWS. 

Jaime Ramirez [00:09:06] Yeah, they switched. 

Ned Hayes [00:09:07] But again, just to ask a question about that, that does give you kind of a single point of failure. Of course, I would have to be a nation state hacker, right? I would have to have the resources of Russia or China. But if I’m able to hack AWS, I can take down everything. And so doesn’t that give us a single point of failure? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:09:24] Yes, but it’s not as simple as that. AWS or those cloud bases, they have different layers of security. They have mirror servers, so even if you access or you hack one part of the set really doesn’t mean that you’re going to shut down the entire cloud. Yeah, it looks simple, but it’s not impossible. It’s obviously it’s hackable. That’s why blockchains right now is the new way to secure some data, some key information, because obviously it’s unhackable as of now. 

Ashley Coates [00:09:53] Also speaking of blockchain, Jamie, what are the most pressing issues today in financial crime and risk management that you’re dealing with at Preventor? What are your clients most concerned about right now? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:10:04] Well, like I mentioned, definitely the most concern is how to automate the onboarding and the way to work remotely. This is, I think that is the hot topic today. Some of the financial institutions started working on this prepandemic, but now the pandemic accelerated this process, and this is a must for every financial institution they need to work. I would say that is the hot topic right now. At 2022, I think it will be a year that most implementation, even last year was a very busy but I think that this is a would be vision.

Ned Hayes [00:10:36] So increasingly we’re seeing a global world, ready example is the sanctions on Putin. They have to touch every aspect of the financial system. So in this increasingly global world, is there any difference between geographies? I know you mentioned that in Latin America, there is better regulation in a way than in North America. But are there other differences that we should be aware of? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:10:58] Definitely. The access to the internet that you are not limited to accept any customers from any part of the world, not limited to do transactions with any part of the world, imports other things for financial institutions, some of them are. If they want to operate in another location, they would need to have the financial services license or things like that. In terms of type of cyber crime from different part of the world. Definitely, you need to have the right tool to authenticate people from different countries. You need to have the different layers of security to make sure that even you receive transactions from other jurisdictions, you are still in control. 

Ned Hayes [00:11:36] OK, well, one of the areas that we really focus on at SnowShoe is retail. Retail fraud like in-person retail, not e-commerce retail, but in terms of being threatened by people coming into stores and stealing things. Are there any things that you can offer to retail customers who want to harden their infrastructure or make it harder to steal from them? Any ideas there? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:11:59] I used to work for a distribution company and then we used to have a lot of retail and point of sale, and we used to have cameras in the retail stores to prevent people stealing the merchandise, put alarms on some of the merchandise. And I remember one strategy that one of the source managers. They put the cameras in the stores, and believe it or not, we installed the cameras, but I remember that the cameras being, they were not plugged in. It was just the camera and the TV. The company that were going to start a DVRs and the computer and everything, they were going to do that job in like two or three days, right? So at that time, we sold the TVs and the camera and everything that you get out of the store. You look at yourself on the TV well, that day or those two days, the decrease of losses was dramatically down. 

Ashley Coates [00:12:48] Wow. 

Ned Hayes [00:12:48] Amazing! 

Jaime Ramirez [00:12:48] And we didn’t have nothing, just a TV and a camera. 

Ned Hayes [00:12:53] Right. If people can see themselves, they think that something is happening. Security theater at its best. But that does bring to mind the new kind of retail experiences that companies like Amazon and Walmart are putting in place where they actually allow purchases to happen via camera. I walk into a store, you know, I pick up a thing and I walk out with it. And what it does is analyzes my behavior in the store and what I picked up and then just bills me for it. And so that’s using cameras at another level. Have you played at all with that kind of technology or do you think that’s interesting? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:13:25] No, I don’t have any experience on that technology, but I believe that a space, first of all, to identify the items, they must have the source mapping very well organized in the way that when you are walking through the aisle and then your behavior is that you grab one item, they already know which item you are having. And then at the beginning, they probably identify yourself by the face recognition and then they already have your identity or more so by their face recognition. They know who you are, they know your credit card. And that’s it. You know, is basically everything is automated. Yeah, it’s kind of DVR thing, another part but that’s actually I was talking about the future of the Metaverse. No? This is very, very also, imagine yourself virtually go inside, into this metaverse place and then going to Walgreens. And then you grab your items no? Or you go into the department stores. And now, right now that you order, you know, I wanna have these shoes and another shoes, then you receive the items say no, I don’t like it, so you return it. You don’t have to do that. You will have to go visually, try the shoes. Say ah, this is perfect for me. So then you receive it over delivery no? 

Ned Hayes [00:14:42] Right. 

Ashley Coates [00:14:45] Wild. 

Jaime Ramirez [00:14:45] Amazing. 

Ashley Coates [00:14:47] At the beginning of the conversation, Jamie, you mentioned validating a person’s biometric identity, can you provide a basic overview of how Preventor uses AI and biometrics in fraud prevention? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:14:59] Yeah, we keep working on these technologies. We obviously do the basics of the biometrics now to define the person that those the documents, the selfie or the video to do the license, the picture. Now we are working on adapt authentication, which is mean for recording customers like what we’re talking about. When you come back as a customer, then you just need to do the facial recognition. We can detect your approximate age, ethnic, genders, or make sure that what is says on your document, is exactly you. If you say the document says that you born 2000 and then by now you are 22 years old, but your face looks like 50 years old, something’s wrong here. So things like that, we’re working on a lot of different type of how to identify the people, the person, a proof of address to authenticate that is really your address or not, make sure that you are using the same device over and over. If you are using a new device or from that geographic location, that it doesn’t make sense that you move from one place to another in less than a period of time. We’ll say, Look, something is wrong, you just do something here and now, a few minutes after you are doing something, the other part of the world in another city, it’s impossible that you are in two places at the same time.  

Ned Hayes [00:16:15] Right. You can’t move from Mexico City to Paris in a half an hour. 

Jaime Ramirez [00:16:18] Exactly. 

Ned Hayes [00:16:20] So I feel like we’ve had a great discussion of different issues in the fraud and security management space, but I don’t know if we’ve given you a good platform to tell us what Preventor is all about. So are there are other aspects of the Preventor platform you want to share with us? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:16:35] I think that we really talk about many features that Preventor does, we are an end to end basically platform financial crime risk management platform, that we do not only the identity verification, the anti-money laundering prevention for individuals, we also work with the entities  that’s another business. So if you are as a customer, as a financial institution, you want to do the same as you do for individuals, for your small business customers where we can do that too. 

Ned Hayes [00:17:05] Got it. Okay. And how do you position yourself in the marketplace against other players? Who do you compete against? Who do you think you can beat? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:17:12] Well, actually, there is a lot of players right now in the landscape. Most of them, they are focusing in the new trend, which is the digital identity. We do more than that, we are experiencing the financial technology for prevention of Anti-Money Laundering is that we provide a end to end, a platform that we grow with your company. So it’s not only like others, that they offer you a product that you can use now, but then if you want to start using, you are already them, then you want to move to the next step, then you have to find another vendor. So we are the one job, one solution, one integration platform. 

Ashley Coates [00:17:50] Thank you. So looking out five to 10 years, what do you expect to see in new trends and tactics in financial crime? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:17:58] Well, honestly, years ago, I didn’t expect to be the technology was in this moment. That we are talking about, like metaverse? We are talking about virtual technology. We are working with that crypto blockchain. There is a lot of challenges right now, and it’s keeping you busy just to keep track of everything that is new, that is coming on. To listen with the requirements here in United States, the same type of company may have a different kind of requirements in Latin America in Europe, in Africa and Asia. So it’s very, how do you say? Evolved. It’s amazing.

Ned Hayes [00:18:34] So as that future emerges, how can companies prepare? What should companies be doing now to be ready for that financial future and protecting themselves into the future? 

Ned Hayes [00:18:45] Well, keep following the technology for research and development. Doing that a lot as part of my task every day. But there is one dedicated person just to be tracked looking reading new technologies, looking also at the competitors, whether it be others that are doing to learning. Because, like I said, it’s a lot. It’s a lot of new technologies. You may find something that is needed for the financial situation, but at the retail, maybe they need something else on the manufacturing or warehouse, it may need something different. So, you know, it’s very interesting. 

Ashley Coates [00:19:21] Also, we have one last question for you, Jamie. 

Jaime Ramirez [00:19:23] Mm-Hmm. 

Ashley Coates [00:19:24] And that is what do you hope will be your legacy and what do you want to be remembered for? 

Jaime Ramirez [00:19:28] Well, actually, as a person, I like passion of what I’m doing. I would like to be remembered by my family, a dedicated person that I’m trying to do the best and do it right.Yeah. 

Ned Hayes [00:19:42] Fantastic. Well, great to have you here with us today. Really appreciate your time and your thoughts on the future of financial security and how companies can prepare for that. Thank you. 

Jaime Ramirez [00:19:52] Thank you. Thank you very much. 

Ned Hayes [00:19:54] SparkPlug is a wholly owned property of SnowShoe all content, copyright 2021. SparkPlug media.