What is KYC and Why Does It Matter? 1 67

After a hair-raising 2017 with scores of ICOs raising millions of bucks overnight, the morning after is hitting hard. In the cold light of day, many a prospect that seemed so attractive suddenly looks rather plain–or worse–they’ve run off with your money. Investing in ICOs isn’t for the faint-hearted. We all know there are a few crypto investors out there on their yachts, but there are plenty more licking their wounds at home. So how can KYC help? 

While the crypto landscape still remains for the most part, lawless, and regulation scarce, there are some ways that respectable ICOs can help rebuild investor confidence. One of them is by carrying out KYC (Know Your Customer) processes on their investors. In fact, KYC, rather than just a good idea, is becoming a prerequisite of doing business. Let’s check it out.

What is KYC?

Know your customer (KYC) is where a business verifies the identity of their clients. This may be by requesting proof of address, or government ID documents. Many ICO investors are now being asked to upload a photograph of themselves holding their document, so as to prove that it hasn’t been stolen and isn’t fake.

KYC is often also referred to when anti-money laundering (AML) regulations are enforced. Many different entities carry out KYC practices not only on their customers, but their employees and other stakeholders as well.

Why Does it Matter?

After all the high profile scandals, hacking attempts and scam teams, legitimate ICOs who want to repair their images should start to get serious about self regulation. It is a simple, yet meaningful way of demonstrating your company’s legitimacy. And here are five other reasons why KYC is so important, besides:

1. If you’re operating in the US in particular, KYC had better be high on your radar. Why? Because the SEC will be hot on your heels if it isn’t. With tougher regulation on the very near horizon, there have already been some cases where the SEC has demanded refunds on token sales that have not implemented these processes. Don’t think it’s that important? Just ask Protostarr; they’ll tell you.

2. If you don’t implement KYC you may not be able to get on the most reputable cryptocurrency exchanges. So, not running checks in the short term could hurt your potential profits in the long run. In fact, Bitcoin exchange, GDAX, that’s backed by the New York Stock Exchange, only lists a fraction of the thousands of tokens out there.

3. Know your customer gives you credibility. It will also allow you to meet banking and regulatory compliance as a precursor to anti-money laundering requirements.

4. You’ll be able to reach a larger audience. Not all jurisdictions require KYC, but the number is steadily growing and there are many places with a lot of investors that already require it. America, Britain, and Canada, to name a few.

5. Remember that the US dollar is still the world’s reserve fiat currency. Even banks outside of the USA are following their lead when it comes to crypto regulations, and violating US rules for global banks isn’t an option.

Complying with KYC voluntarily gives you many advantages and it benefits your customers as well. It may feel like an extra layer or a tightening of freedom, but if you’re serious about attracting investors who are rightly concerned about their money, KYC is a logical step.

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Christina is a technology and business communicator who has worked with high profile ICOs and blockchain influencers to break industry news.

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The Block Talk Award Winners Announced 1 1039

Thanks to everyone for submitting your favorite blockchain innovators and influencers. Our editorial team had a great time learning about new projects and individuals that are building a foundation for our future with blockchain technology, and realizing amazing technological feats in the present.

While it was difficult to select just one project or individual in each category, we’re excited to announce the winners of our first inaugural Block Talk Awards.

  • Best ICO Analysis & Commentary – Tatiana Koffman, Various Outlets
  • Most Engaged Community – Rod Turner, Various Outlets
  • Favorite Blockchain Blogger – Rachel Wolfson, Forbes
  • Best Crypto Journalist – Jordan French, The Street
  • Innovative Female Founder – Amber Baldet, Clovyr
  • Best Podcast Host(s) – Joel Comm and Travis Wright, Bad Crypto
  • Favorite Blockchain Event Host – Adryenn Ashley, Loly.io
  • Top Crypto Speaker – Ian Balina, Crypto World Tour
  • Most Innovative Blockchain CEO – Trevor Koverko, Polymath
  • Top Social Entrepreneur – Evan Caron, Swytch

Winners in each category will receive a $1500 media credit on The Block Talk, access to a network of TBT Award honorees, and VIP access to TBT events in 2019.

Defrauding Crypto CEO Josh Garza  Sentenced in Landmark Case 0 55

The disgraced former CEO of fraudulent crypto company GAW Miners has reached the end of a legal saga spanning more than three years. Josh Garza has been sentenced to 21 months in prison and payments of $9,182,000 in damages. His prison term will be followed by three years of supervised release, including six months of home confinement.

US Attorney for the District of Connecticut John H. Durham announced the sentence, which follows Garza’s guilty plea to wire fraud.

How GAW Miners Lost Their Zen

GAW Miners started as a cloud mining service. Fraud allegations began to emerge in 2014, and formal charges followed. The SEC accused GAW with acting as a Ponzi scheme by selling more crypto mining power than they really had. Around that time, GAW also peddled its token, PayCoin, which they promised had a $20 ‘floor.’ That floor dropped out in 2015, to the ire of beswindled token holders. By the end of January, one PayCoin was worth less than $2.

According to the Department of Justice, Garza “stated that the market value of a single paycoin would not fall below $20 per unit because Garza’s companies had a reserve of $100 million that the companies would use to purchase paycoins to drive up its price. In fact, no such reserve existed.”

Nor did an $8 million transaction in which GAW’s parent company allegedly purchased controlling shares of ZenMiner (another company founded and operated by Garza). “Garza made multiple false statements related to the scheme,” the release states, “to generate business and attract customers and investors.”

The PayCoin collapse initiated the undoing of GAW and ultimately of Garza. GAW tried to bounce back with some unsuccessful endeavors like a crypto exchange called Mineral and a platform for making Amazon purchases called CoinStand, before the company went into default for failing to pay their power bill.

The truth eventually began to come to light after internal emails and documents surfaced, after GAW went under separate investigations by the SEC and the DOJ. A few years later, these investigations have finally resulted in Thursday’s sentence.

Justice and Fraud in CryptoSpace

The sentence is a win for the Department of Justice, which has been puzzling over how to govern the crypto world, and could set precedents for following cases, including investigations already underway.

A Bloomberg study has found that over 80 percent of ICOs are scams. Meanwhile, TechCrunch reports that over 1,000 crypto projects have failed in 2018, and $1.1 billion in cryptocurrencies have been stolen this year, according to CNBC.

The crypto landscape and the justice system clearly have some reckoning to do, but investors need to exercise serious caution in the meantime. Although Garza’s sentence sets a precedent, it’s based on a situation that’s not necessarily unique.

Garza’s Sentence May Not Satisfy Defrauded Victims

Critics of the sentence have pointed out how with good behavior Garza could be out in 18 months, a light load considering his fraudulent acquisitions through PayCoin could’ve totaled $20 million by some estimates, and considering the 20 years of prison time per infraction Garza was facing in court. The lighter sentence was part of a plea deal.

While Garza denied all charges at first, he expressed remorse about his actions in a courtroom statement Thursday, according to CoinDesk. Garza is ordered to report to prison on January 4th, 2019.

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