It seems like yesterday one of Europe’s top 35 banks initiated a first-ever collaborative investigation via Salv Bridge.

While industry leaders the world over discuss how to make collaborative crime-fighting work in theory, the Salv Bridge network has achieved this in practice. We’ve made collaborative crime-fighting not only possible, but fully operational. And while our approach has been one of small steps and constant incremental improvement, with this milestone in mind it’s worth reflecting on how far we’ve come so far.

Salv Bridge: how it started

On 13 July 2021, a crime-fighter from Swedbank sent a request for information (RFI) to a colleague from Luminor relating to a fraud investigation. Only a handful more collaborations followed that month, as banks integrated Salv Bridge into their existing working processes. Quickly though, we saw usage increase dramatically.

An inquiry-a-day in August turned into 4-5 per day in September. That doubled again in October, and fast forward to June 2022, financial institutions were initiating more than 350 investigative collaborations a month.

In one year, the Salv Bridge network has helped financial institutions resolve 2,750+ investigations – across anti-money laundering, fraud/scam or sanctions use cases, and in record speed.

I am really proud of this project. It shows not just our community's theoretical understanding of the need to cooperate to tackle money laundering and terrorist finance, but also the practical steps to make it happen.

Allan Parik

Chairman of Estonian banking association & SEB Bank CEO

Salv Bridge operates on the principles of private-private information sharing.

Historically, response times of 24-48 hrs to RFIs between financial institutions has been the rule not the exception – with processes for intelligence exchange often ad hoc, informal or insecure. Via Salv Bridge we’re seeing banks improve the speed of correspondence by 100-150x with investigations being resolved in as little as three minutes.

Since the introduction of “urgent” classification case management (often referring to fraud/scam investigations where the speed of response can prove critical to successfully recalling funds) the median response time across Salv Bridge has been 19 minutes. 75% of all urgent requests are answered in under an hour – one in four cases are resolved in fewer than seven minutes.

We have seen some really good results, in a very short period of time. In the area of fraud prevention, speed is a very key aspect - and this tool really helps us communicate with each other and find the necessary information we need to stop these actions from completing.

Kadri Kiisel

Ceo LHV and chairman of the board of management

From that first correspondence between two banks, within four months the Salv Bridge network had expanded to four banks, then eight, and then 10 – representing 99% of the Estonian banking sector.

And at the start of summer, something truly pioneering took place – Salv Bridge facilitated the first cross-border information exchange.

Europe’s first collaborative crime-fighting network

As Europol’s 2021 Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment report details, 7 out of 10 major criminal networks are operational in 3+ countries. Which means no matter how useful nation-based collaborations are, to seriously impact rates of criminality we have to be able to share financial information in a systematic and methodical way.

With financial institutions based in the UK, Sweden and Estonia, Salv Bridge is Europe’s first collaborative crime-fighting network – that’s operational across borders, solves multiple use cases, and facilitates messaging in near real-time.

In the first year of its existence, in fraud/scam use cases alone Salv Bridge has successfully recalled or prevented €4-5m of customer money from reaching criminal-controlled accounts. As we know from the global statistics though, this remains a drop in the ocean – the task ahead of us remains massive, and this fact motivates our team to press even harder in year two to increase Salv Bridge’s crime-fighting impact.

Salv Bridge: the future ahead

There are a few factors that make us optimistic about crime-fighting in the coming years. In 2022, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) released a major report into collaborative crime-fighting, featuring Salv Bridge as one of the world-leading initiatives in this area.

Similarly, a leading UK thinktank, the Royal United Services Institute’s Future of Financial Intelligence Sharing project released a significant survey of initiatives from around the world, which also profiled Salv Bridge.

Since then our phones have been ringing hot – banking associations across Europe are reaching out to Salv to understand how we’ve built a network that is secure and fully compliant across 27 EU member states.

With instant payments and the rise of phishing attacks it really becomes a question of reacting within minutes - and I can say that thanks to this system, across the three months we have been able to stop at least 70 such cases, successfully freezing the money and returning it to customers.

Raul Vahtra

Head of AML, Swedbank

Salv is also in the process of locking in some very exciting collaborations, which will help expand the network coverage – across European markets and beyond.

We continue to validate suspicious IBAN sharing – enabling members to proactively warn others within the network of serial bad actors. And we’re expanding automation across various use cases to continue to improve speed and reduce manual handling.

As always, a huge thanks from the team at Salv goes to our forward-thinking partners in Estonia – the passionate crime-fighters who saw how broken compliance can be and refused to accept this as business as usual.

We are constantly inspired by your drive to do more and do better. As global industry leaders continue to point towards collaborative crime-fighting as the way forward we will witness many more banking leaders picking up this torch, in jurisdictions across Europe and beyond. It is only through the strength of a network that we’ll produce meaningful impact – not just in our backyards, but everywhere.

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We build security to our products and organisation from the start. We use security best practices (incl. ISO 27001, CIS etc.) to ensure that our security management system meets the highest standards.

Salv has an ISO/IEC 27001: 2022 certificate, as well as ISAE 3000 compliant SOC 2 Type 2 report.