by Levi J Parsons
SYDNEY, March 14 (Xinhua) -- At this weekend's ASEAN-Australia summit in Sydney, counter-terrorism is set to be one of the major issues for the meeting's agenda.
That's why the country's financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC (The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre) has invited more than 100 of the region's top technologists, code designers and innovators to share their expertise on how to combat terror financing.
Dozens of teams from a number of public and private sector organisations will be given six coding challenges over a 32-hour period beginning on Wednesday, with the hope that the diverse pool of new ideas will spark more innovation within the financial regulation sector.
"It's like running a marathon that's why it's called codeathon," Thomas Reuters 3rd party risk specialist Misa Zhang said.
Although the concept of a "codeathon" or "hackathon" is not new, it's believed to be the first time such an event has ever been hosted by a government agency.
"AUSTRAC has a remit to disrupt organised crime, financial crime and stop terrorism financing, but to solve that problem collectively we need help," AUSTRAC director of innovation Rajesh Walton explained to Xinhua.
"Collaboration, co-design and working together is such an important facet to solve these problems."
Although detecting and investigating vastly complex, digital webs of illegal money trails is immensely difficult, Walton believes cooperation between international agencies is the key to battling criminal underworld.
"Serious and organised crime and that includes terrorism financing is fluid in nature, it uses sophisticated techniques and methodologies to come up with new ways to bring harm," he said.
"We need to share information in a more comprehensive manner than ever because it's a transnational problem, it's a global problem that we are trying to solve with global solutions."
In order to "keep up with the criminals," Walton explained that new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) are set to play a much larger role in how financial transactions are regulated.
"Information and funds transfer movements occur instantaneously in the current environment, so we need to find a way of doing things faster in a secure manner."
"We are talking not only about AI, we are also talking about the new technologies which are huge now like blockchain, but AI and automation are absolutely critical for the future."
"So we have to ensure that we can leverage those technologies to fight and be prepared for money laundering, terrorism financing or any kind of serious or organised crime."
Aside from the intense intellectual challenges coders will have to deal with, competitors will also have to battle immense fatigue over the two day period, something that real-time financial investigators often have to face.
One of the event's group mentors with an extensive background in financial crime databases explained, "It's going to be a physical challenge as well as mental, so I'm really looking forward to seeing how people will endure that process."