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Neobank Bunq wins case against Dutch Central Bank over artificial intelligence use

Bunq says the ruling is a landmark one for other neobanks wanting to use tech to fight fraud.

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Ali Niknam/Bunq

Bunq has heralded a “landmark” for neobanks as it won a case against the Dutch Central Bank (DNB).

Earlier this year the neobank, founded by Ali Niknam in 20212, decided to take DNB to court as it wants to use artificial intelligence at the core of its anti-money laundering strategy going against existing rules.

“It’s a strategy that, in the eyes of Bunq, was antiquated and ineffective. For years, Bunq advocated money laundering policies that use modern technology, such as artificial intelligence, to mitigate risks,” Bunq said in a statement following the court siding in its verdict with the company.

Bunq however considered the long-term detriment to its own users and, on a larger scale, the stability of the banking system as a whole, had it yielded to DNB’s anti-money laundering strategy,” it added.  

The Dutch neobank has seen its customer numbers soar in recent years helped by organic growth as well as acquisitions, helping it nudge close to profitability, according to its latest customer accounts which run up to the beginning of 2022.

“DNB insisted on using one-sided reporting from account holders - a system resting squarely on the honesty of fraudsters - bunq favoured the use of technology such as machine learning to fight money laundering effectively."

Bunq says it’s the first time a bank has decided to sue the Dutch Central Bank over an issue as banks “prefer to settle disputes with DNB behind closed doors” but adds that DNB has already started renewing its banking policies in the past month to as machine learning and other tech-enabled anti-money laundering strategies.

“We made history today. The court has paved the way for progress,” said Niknam.

The full verdict of the court can be read (in Dutch) here.

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Ali Niknam

CEO and founder


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