“Regtech” startup
First AML, which streamlines compliance for new anti-money laundering laws, has raised 2.5m in its first angel fundraising round led by Pushpay founders Chris Heaslip and Eliot Crowther, with support from Icehouse Ventures and other private investors.

First AML has built a regulatory technology (regtech) platform that automates identity verification for a company’s customers and suppliers, making it easier for banks, lawyers, real-estate and accounting firms to comply with the latest round of New Zealand’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws introduced in July 2018.

The company’s regtech platform is an end-to-end Customer Due Diligence (CDD) solution that removes the complexity and administrative burden of accurately verifying customer identities while providing complete visibility and management oversight of the process.

The $2.5m will be used to expand the platform’s functionality, accelerate product development, and to enter Australia and other international markets.

“We’re addressing a massively distributed problem as more countries introduce anti-money laundering regulations and more sectors such as Law, Accounting and Real Estate are affected,” says First AML CEO and co-founder Milan Cooper.

“Our technology significantly improves this experience for everyone, enabling ‘frictionless AML,’ from the homeowner selling their property to a Financial Firm required to confirm its customers’ identities. We’ve streamlined customer due diligence to help companies be compliant and help individuals onboard with far less hassle than before.”

For Mr Heaslip, First AML is the first startup he’s invested in since stepping down earlier this year as CEO of Seattle-based Pushpay, the mobile digital giving platform for churches and not-for-profits that he founded in Auckland with Elliot Crowther in 2011.

“We are excited to be partnering with First AML to help scale the company with many of the lessons we learned running Pushpay,” says Mr Heaslip. “First AML have built a world-class experience in such a short time, using smart technology to automate customer onboarding and improve the compliance experience for businesses. Having been an accountant myself, I can empathise with the frustration the additional administrative burden weighing on companies needing to comply with the new regulations.”

The three First AML founders raised seed investment from
Icehouse Ventures’
Flux Accelerator in March, enabling First AML to expand their team and grow their customers three-fold. Shortly after completing the six-month accelerator programme, First AML presented at Icehouse Ventures’ annual Showcase event to 1000 investors in August.

Barnaby Marshall, partner at Icehouse Ventures and Flux Accelerator, says, “It’s fantastic to see a young company like First AML be able to attract significant capital from high-quality investors early in its growth journey. This shows investors recognise the opportunity from the problem they are trying to solve, the timeliness of the product, and the calibre of the founders.

“It’s also really great to see founders like Heaslip and Crowther who have found success recycling their talent and capital back into the New Zealand startup ecosystem.”

Mr Cooper formed First AML in 2017 with his two two co-founders, Bion Behdin and Chris Caigou, who were working as corporate bankers when the first phase of AML regulations were introduced for banks in 2013. They recognised the implications of the next phase of AML regulations and launched their platform in time to seize the market opportunity.