Estonians launch an anti-money laundering startup

An Estonian startup, called Salv, has created a platform that, according to the company, makes a bank ten times “more effective in combating money laundering”; the startup recently raised USD2 million in a seed round.

The company was founded by Taavi Tamkivi (CEO), Jeff McClelland (COO) and Sergei Rumjantsev (CTO). Tamkivi built the anti-money laundering, fraud and “know your customer” teams at TransferWise and Skype. McClelland started his career at ING Bank before leading fraud and other analytics teams at Skype and setting up the analytics team at TransferWise. Rumjantsev led the engineering team for “know your customer” and verification at Transferwise.

“The founders recognised the growing disconnect between the roughly €84 billion spent per year by the European banking sector, and the slight 1-2% of global money-laundering detected. To highlight the scope of this criminal industry, the estimated amount of money laundered globally is $1 to $2 trillion annually, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,” the company said in a statement.

Making the world a safer place

“Banks are spending more and more resources on anti-money laundering, but not making real progress,” Tamkivi said. “Even if a bank is 100% compliant with regulations, it isn’t enough. Money is still laundered, despite complex regulations and procedures. And the bad guys are always one step ahead.”

“We built Salv to make financial institutions smarter at detecting crime, without damaging the experience of real customers,” he added. “Usually, money laundering is connected to serious, large-scale criminal activity from drug trafficking to arms dealing and terrorism. If we can stop money-laundering, we’re hitting the criminals where it hurts, and we make the world a safer place.”

In early 2019, Estonia’s Financial Supervision Agency ordered Danske Bank to leave the country, saying that the Danish bank’s $230 billion money-laundering scandal had marred Estonia’s financial market’s reputation. The image is illustrative (Wikimedia Commons).

The technology designed by the company “is an intuitive product, equipping compliance specialists with the tools needed to reduce time on false-positive alerts. It puts the compliance officer in the driver’s seat by eliminating the necessity of constantly engaging support from engineers,” the company said.

Available to financial institutions in Europe

“We help banks decrease transaction monitoring and false-positive alerts. Although significantly more crime gets detected, fewer honest customers get accidentally caught up in checks. Salv makes the bank’s fight against money-laundering over ten times more efficient,” Tamkivi asserted.

The company’s technology is currently available to banks and other financial institutions in Europe.

The USD2 million seed round was led by Fly Ventures, along with Passion Capital and Seedcamp. Angel investors joining the round included Twilio CTO Ott Kaukver, N26 co-founder Maximilian Tayenthal and former CIO for Estonia Taavi Kotka.

Cover: Salv is founded by former TransferWise engineers. From left: Sergei Rumjantsev, Taavi Tamkivi and Jeff McClelland. Photo by Jake Farra.

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