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2018 Top 10 30-Somethings: Paul Lanois

Top Ten 30 Somethings
Swiss banking is world-renowned. Banking in Switzerland began in the early 18th century through Switzerland's merchant trade and has, over the centuries, grown into a complex industry, bolstered by the famed Swiss neutrality and its stable currency.

With the rapid development of new technologies and a deep knowledge of privacy and data regulations — not to mention a cosmopolitan upbringing that provided a comprehensive understanding of how the laws and regulations of various jurisdictions overlap — Paul Lanois enabled Credit Suisse to implement a state-of-the-art video service that allows clients to open accounts without a physical meeting.

Due to stringent regulations, banks are required to meet high standards for identity verification when opening accounts for customers, which represented an implementation challenge for digital solutions. The concept of "Know Your Customer" is the pillar of the world's anti-money laundering laws and centers on four key elements: customer acceptance, customer identification, transaction monitoring, and risk management.

A bank needs to verify the customer is who they say they are (usually through a face-to-face inspection of the customer's identity documents), match names against lists of known parties, create an expectation of a customer's transactional behavior, and monitor the account for suspicious actions.

In order for the innovation to work, Lanois developed a broad strategy with his counterparts in marketing, products, IT, engineering, and the information security divisions of Credit Suisse. When designing a product for customers all over the world, he says the team "had to have a global view because we want to streamline the process."

His background — born and raised in Singapore, educated in France and the United States, in-house positions from Switzerland to Hong Kong — gave him a keen appreciation of the intersection of global laws.

A potential banking customer would join a video conference, with the appropriate documents by their side. The person then shows the passport to the camera. Verification software confirms the holographic anti-fraud mechanism on the passport when the potential customer tilts it.

The video is recorded and screened for any unusual actions, like appearing nervous. The innovation helps the bank target ultra-high-net worth individuals who want to get things done from the comfort of their sofa without leaving home.

The intersection of law and technology has always been of interest to Lanois. As a kid, he was bewitched by computers and knew that he wanted to pursue a career that involved the two topics. A third interest — privacy — has also guided his career.

His first publication, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Its Global Impact," examined the extraterritorial impact of a US law, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, particularly on French companies because the regulation mandated whistleblowing, which was at odds with France's restriction on anonymous reporting.

He continues to serve as an expert in the privacy realm despite being an in-house lawyer where there is no need for or incentive in doing any form of business development. "It's an area that I find really fascinating, and that's why it's for myself; not to promote any business or anything," he explains.

His article, "Caught in the Clouds: The Web 2.0, Cloud Computing, and Privacy?" was quoted in Microsoft Corp. v. United States, the 2016 US Supreme Court case that was rendered moot when the underlying question — does the reach of US law enforcement extend to data kept outside the United States? — was answered by the US Congress passing the CLOUD Act.

The Act allows law enforcement agencies to compel US-based technology to provide data, regardless of where it's located. He has been quoted by outlets as varied as NBC News, Bloomberg Businessweek, and CNN Indonesia on the evolving data privacy landscape.

It seems like no matter where he is — at work or in his free time — he is at the bleeding edge of technology and will be for years to come.

More 2018 Top 10 30-Somethings

Sheila Bangalore

Christopher Y. Chan

Steve Gangemi

Mary Gritzmacher

Olga V. Mack

Shelly Paioff

Julie Ryan

Diana Toman

Greg Wu

About the Author

Joshua H. Shields is the managing editor of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

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