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FIU Codeathon exemplifies collaborative way to tackle Counter-Terrorism Financing

  • Inaugural hackhathon draws 69 participants with diverse expertise from 11 countries
  • Hosted by Bank Negara Malaysia, teams given three challenges to solve in 32 hours


FIU Codeathon exemplifies collaborative way to tackle Counter-Terrorism Financing



ONE of the key trends that has been evident over recent times is how more businesses and industry associations have started to see the value of open innovation through crowd sourcing where all stakeholders plus non-traditional parties are invited to help solve a challenge an organisation or industry association could have, through hackhathons.

Add governments too.

“The days of governments thinking they know it all and have all the answers are gone,” says Leanne Fry (pic), programme manager, innovation, information & analytics at Austrac to Digital News Asia yesterday. Austrac stands for Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre and is Australia’s financial intelligence agency.

The most recent example of such open innovation and crowd sourcing is with the 3rd Counter-Terrorism Financing Summit 2017 that will be held on Nov 22 in Kuala Lumpur, hosted by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in partnership with Austrac and Indonesia’s Pusat Pelaporan dan Analisis Transaksi Keuangan (PPATK).

For the first time, in conjunction with the high powered conference, and building on the summit’s innovation theme, an international codeathon, was held over the weekend of Nov 18 & 19 where 69 participants from 11 countries threw their keyboards into the ring to help solve one of three key challenges:

  • Where is the money?

How would you monitor the changing world of value exchange internationally, taking into account emerging technologies and the shift from money to value in myriad forms?

  • Who are you?

How would you identify people engaging in terrorist funding, money laundering, drugs or other criminal activities with crypto currencies or other pseudonymous channels?

  • Help your community!

How would you identify tangible impending risks to the community to intercept harm pre-emptively, especially relating to money laundering/terrorism-financing (ML/TF)?

Participants selected at least one of the challenges, with one team even ambitiously tackling all three challenges, and creating solutions to address terrorism financing issues effectively, as well as products that signify originality and ease of use.

Organising the Codeathon ties in with the launch of a fintech alliance by Austrac with one of the underpinnings of the alliance being that money laundering and terrorism financing are problems they can’t solve themselves. “Such collaboration is key to solving the problems and taking the sharing of knowledge to industry beyond the FIUs (Financial Intelligence Units),” explains Leanne.

An FIU is a central national agency responsible for receiving, analysing, and transmitting disclosures on suspicious transactions to the competent authorities

Participants brought to the table a broad range of expertise, ranging from counter terrorism financing subject-matter experts, software developers, programmers, analysts, designers, engineers and other skilled individuals from the FIUs, FinTech, regulatory technology (RegTech) communities, financial institutions, as well as students and hobbyists, all working to solve the three challenges.

The goal of the organisers, Bank Negara Malaysia and Austrac, was to engage smart people and challenge them, within 32 hours, to construct innovative digital solutions to curb the emergence of terrorism financing.

Divided into 17 teams, the participants submitted their solutions in various forms, including live applications, websites or prototypes with a short video being compulsory to explain the use and relevance of the product to address the respective challenge. The link to the videos, including documents like architecture diagrams, process flow, explanatory slides, can be found here.

The winners for the Codeathon are:

  • Team Categories

Champion – RM 15,800 (A$5,000):Overwatch – Blockchain Address Validation

1st runner-up –RM 9,500 (A$3,000) :SocialHash

2nd runner-up – RM3,200 (A$1,000):LinkAI – The Network Miner

  • Best Performed Team – RM 1,600 (A$500) and trophy: Dodge Index


  • Individual Category

“Spirit of CTF Codeathon” Winner – RM 950 (A$300 AUD) and trophy: Elliot Ian Shepherd

“Spirit of CTF Codeathon” Runner-Up – Trophy: Yudhitia Mustika Sari

The judges found that the champion, Overwatch – Blockchain Address Validation created a program that showed genuine innovation, originality and most effectively addressed the “Help Your Community” Challenge by providing cryptocurrency users and platforms an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled service to red-flag Blockchain addresses which have been directly involved in or linked to suspicious activity.

The first runner-up, Social Hash merited special mention and recognition for their solution that focused on smart contracts allowing cross-border tracking of data from social networks and investigations.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the spirit shown by all the participants and mentors. It was inspiring, and sets the stage for the next year’s ASEAN-Australia Codeathon,” said Leanne.

Interested participants are invited to register for next year’s Codeathon, hosted by Austrac in Sydney from 14 – 15 March 2018 in the week prior to the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit and Counter-Terrorism Conference.

Registration is now open.

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