The emergence of cryptocurrency has brought about a new era of financial transactions that operate beyond the traditional banking system. However, the anonymity of using digital currencies has also made them attractive to criminals and other malicious actors. To address this issue, implementing Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols has become increasingly important within the crypto industry.
KYC is a process used by institutions to verify the identity of their customers. It typically involves collecting and verifying personal information such as name, address, date of birth, and government-issued identification documents. KYC aims to prevent money laundering, terrorist financing, and other criminal activities.
Initially, the absence of effective regulation in the cryptocurrency market made it an attractive option for those looking to conduct illegal activities without being detected. As the popularity of cryptocurrency continued to rise, so did the number of fraudulent activities related to it. According to recent reports, between January 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022, over $1 billion in crypto was lost to fraudsters, with over 46,000 consumers reporting such incidents. However, the tide has since turned, and governments around the world have begun to take steps to regulate the industry.
In a 2019 joint statement from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), crypto exchanges were classified as money service businesses (MSBs), subjecting them to Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations under the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970.
One of the main benefits of KYC in the crypto business is increased accountability. By requiring users to verify their identities, it becomes more difficult for criminals to operate anonymously on these platforms. This, in turn, makes it easier for law enforcement to track down and prosecute those who engage in illegal activities using digital currencies.
Binance is a cryptocurrency exchange platform that allows users to buy, sell, and trade a wide range of digital assets. In 2018, Binance announced that it would begin implementing KYC protocols, requiring users to verify their identities to access certain platform features. This move was widely seen as a way for Binance to demonstrate its commitment to regulatory compliance and to build trust with its user base.
More recently, in February 2021, Binance announced that it had partnered with an identity verification provider to enhance its KYC procedures. As part of the partnership, Binance integrated AI-powered verification technology into its platform, enabling faster and more reliable identity verification for its users.
This move towards increased accountability and transparency through KYC protocols can help companies like Binance to establish themselves as leading cryptocurrency exchange with a reputation for responsible and ethical practices.
Another benefit of KYC is increased trust in the crypto industry. In the past, the lack of regulation and adequate supervision led to a general perception that cryptocurrencies were a risky investment. Cryptocurrency service providers can demonstrate their commitment to transparency and accountability by implementing KYC protocols. This can build trust and increase the adoption of digital currencies.
One example of a crypto company that struggled with reputation but then built customer trust through KYC processes is Bitfinex. In 2016, the exchange suffered a significant security breach that resulted in the loss of over $70 million worth of cryptocurrency. This incident severely damaged the company’s reputation, and many investors were left feeling uncertain about the safety and security of their funds on the exchange.
Bitfinex implemented strict KYC and AML procedures to rebuild customer trust, requiring users to submit personal identification documents and undergo thorough verification before trading on the platform. Bitfinex also hired third-party auditors to review its security measures and ensure they complied with industry regulations.
As a result of these efforts, Bitfinex was able to regain the trust of its customers and rebuild its reputation as a safe and reliable platform for trading cryptocurrencies. Today, the exchange is considered one of the leading platforms in the crypto industry. It has attracted a large user base who trust the platform’s commitment to security and compliance.
While some argue that KYC protocols in the crypto market go against the original ideals of cryptocurrency, it is essential to remember that by implementing KYC, the industry can continue to grow and evolve responsibly and sustainably.
One way KYC drives change in the crypto industry is through the inception of decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms. These platforms are established with a strong emphasis on the importance of KYC protocols to ensure a safe trading environment for investors.
DeFi platforms are built on blockchain technology and aim to provide decentralized financial services such as lending, borrowing, and trading. These platforms typically require users to follow KYC procedures to comply with anti-money laundering regulations and foster certain trading conditions.
By implementing KYC protocols, DeFi platforms have attracted more investors looking for a safer way to access financial services on the blockchain. This has led to rapid growth in the DeFi industry, with the total value locked in DeFi protocols reaching over $100 billion in 2021.
As KYC continues to be implemented in the DeFi space, the industry will continue to expand and develop. The increased transparency and accountability provided by KYC procedures can build trust among investors, leading to even greater adoption of DeFi platforms.
Overall, the growth and evolution of the DeFi industry is a testament to the benefits of KYC implementation in the crypto market, as it helps to establish a safer and more trustworthy trading environment for investors.
In conclusion, KYC protocols are changing the face of the cryptocurrency industry by promoting accountability, trust, and legitimacy. As the industry grows, more governments will likely begin to regulate it. Therefore, implementing KYC protocols will become even more critical for crypto service providers to operate responsibly and ethically.
Fully-Verified was created as answer to its founders collectively losing over $150 000 to various types of fraud in their eCommerce businesses.