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The process of ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC) is simple. Say you want to invest in an ICO, you may be particularly anxious that no organizations or individuals connected with or funding criminals and terrorists share the platform with you. KYC also refers to parties involved in other anti-government activities like money-laundering, smuggling, or coming from countries under sanctions. Even if you don’t care, the government does.

There have been stories where funds have been frozen or confiscated while the government inspected the company’s transactions. In 2014 for instance, more than 3,000 customers lost some, or all, of their investments in Mt. Gox, the largest Bitcoin exchange, after the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seized money from its U.S. subsidiary account.

I assure you, most token buyers would rather go through the quasi-onerous motions of KYC than have their crypto booty confiscated!

In a similar way, if you’re thinking of running a cryptocurrency exchange, a cryptocurrency ATM, or an ICO, you’d like people who participate in your token sales and incoming funds to be “clean”. Either way, FinCen, a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, requires ICOs to adopt KYC regulations. Finally, if you’re a money service business (MSB), you’d certainly want KYC to be your rule since banks, large corporations, and public bodies are all KYC-crazy.

As a client, this is what KYC means

Most credible bitcoin exchanges like Bitstamp, Coinbase, or Kraken will ask you to do the following:

  1. Confirm your phone number You’ll enter a code the company sends to your mobile phone.
  2. Provide personal IDYou’ll likely need to attach one or more of the following: a scan of your ID or driver’s license, a recent utility bill, and/ or a copy of your birth certificate or passport. The types of required ID documents depend on the bitcoin exchange and on the amount you want to trade, with larger amounts requiring stricter verification.  

Expect a growing number of ICOs, particularly those that are MSBs, to ask you for some of those documents, too.

Most major platforms verify your identification within one to three hours. Slower businesses may take up to a week.

As a business owner, here’s what KYC means

The process is simple:

  1. Establish customer identity – Collect basic identity documents or data like the following: IP address, name and address validation, citizenship, birth date, a photo of government issued ID (Driver’s License, passport, ID card), Social Security number or Tax Identification, bank statement, recent utility bill.
  2. Understand the nature of the customer’s activities (to satisfy yourself that the source of their funds is legitimate) – Check that they’re allowed to take part in a token sale (e.g., they are not on a sanctions list). IdentityMind Global, a service that offers risk management and anti-fraud services for e-commerce platforms, deals with this problem by comparing a selfie of the individual to the picture in the government issued ID.
  3. Monitor the customer’s activities – As of January 1, 2017, The New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) required an ongoing monitoring program that includes checking that the client’s financial transactions and accounts match their risk profile.

Some concerns are that individuals from sanctioned countries could hide their location and buy tokens from US companies. IdentityMind prevents this by looking at the IP address and determining, first, if the prospective clients uses a proxy (and if so, which kind), and, second, if it employs the Tor network or a VPN. If either is used, the application is denied. When it comes to money laundering, IdentityMind imposes EDD for contributors over a certain dollar amount.

EDD: Advanced KYC

There are three tiers of due diligence:

  • Simplified Due Diligence (“SDD”) – Situations where the risk for money laundering or terrorist funding is low, and you only need a partial KYC.
  • Basic Customer Due Diligence (“CDD”) – Information obtained for all customers to verify the identity of a customer and assess the risks associated with that customer. Here’s where you’ll need the complete KYC.
  • Enhanced Due Diligence (“EDD”) – Additional information collected for higher-risk customers to avoid possible risks.

Since this sounds like a lot of work and you have enough on your plate, some ICOs, or blockchain companies, dispatch identifications to third-party KYC providers, who, in turn, send documents to call centers around the world where clerks review information. Other blockchain companies, like data marketplace Datum, seek more confidentiality for their clients and review the data themselves.

Dealing with upset customers

Admittedly, KYC frazzles some people’s moods. Crypto enthusiasts, for instance, tend to disagree with the government’s “interference” ideologically, on the grounds that cryptocurrency should be anonymous, or at least, pseudo-anonymous. Others find the KYC requirements irksome and intrusive.

To modify such customers, you may want to make your requirements clear ahead of time, show how KYC protects investors, and that even if they disagree – “Sorry, guy, but we need this information to comply with FinCen’s Know your Customer requirements.

After all, know thy client saves you and your customers oodles of stress and money.

 

Bitcoin mining

Argo Blockchain, a business that seeks to offer cryptocurrency-mining to the masses, announced its plans to list its shares on the London Stock Exchange or LSE on June 11, 2018. This announcement coincided with the launch of Argo’s Mining as a Service, or MaaS, program, which will allow users to participate in mining through the Argo site with their home computers or smartphones. According to the announcements, Argo expects its valuation to be £40 million, or about $54 million, and to raise £20 million, or about $27 million. Argo plans to use the money raises to fund the growth if its MaaS services. Co-founder Jonathan Bixby said:

We have launched this service to take the pain and heartache out of participating in the biggest new technology breakthrough since the launch of the internet.

Argo aims to be the first crypto-mining company on the LSE. In 2015, blockchain-focused investment business Coinsilium was the first cryptocurrency-related company to hold an IPO on LSE’s submarket for smaller companies, AIM.

Argo was established in 2017. According to the company announcements, its technology invites the public at large to become crypto-miners, “without the need to have significant computing expertise or acquire complex and expensive hardware and have the frustration of setting up their own systems.”

Argo compares its mainstream mining services to the cloud computing revolution of the last decade, and Bixby told The Financial Times it wants to be “the Amazon web services of crypto.” Subscribers to Argo’s cloud-based platform sign up for a specific amount of mining capacity and can choose what to mine, which mining pool to join and where to store their coins off the site. Introductory fees to join its pools are £18 or about $25 per month. Currently, it mines the digital currencies Bitcoin Gold, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic and Zcash, but this may change in the future.

Argo is headquartered in London and has a mining facility in Quebec. It currently has 7 racks, each holding 10 servers with 8 GPUs each in Canada, and it has also started “initial operations” in China. Argo’s primary targets customers are in Europe, North America and Australia. The company plans to rely on renewable energy like solar and hydropower.

Bixby describes the company’s plan to go public in this way:

A London stock market listing will provide Argo with the profile, credibility and access to global capital to drive our growth and help us establish a leadership position in the long term.

The featured image is the Argo logo, credit: Argo.

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Gemini To Become First BitLicensed Exchange To Offer Trading in Zcash
The New York State Department of Financial Services has authorized Gemini Trust Company to offer trading of Zcash, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash. Tyler Winklevoss, Chief Executive Officer of Gemini Trust Company, LCC said, “We are proud be the first licensed exchange in the world to offer Zcash trading and custody services and look forward to providing customers with a safe, secure, and regulated place to buy, sell, and store Zcash, an incredible new form of digital cash.”

Crypto Mining Company Coinmint Moving To Revamp 1,300 Acre Alcoa Plot
Once used for aluminum smelting, an Alcoa plant in Upstate New York is going to be converted into one of the world’s largest bitcoin mining centers. CNBC reports Coinmint said Tuesday it “would invest up to $700 million in the upstate New York location, which it expects to be the biggest bitcoin mining center in the world. The project will create an estimated 150 jobs over the next 18 months.”

Cryptocurrency Theft Malware Now An Economy Worth Millions
According to a new research report titled “Cryptocurrency Gold Rush on the Dark Web” by Carbon Black, the market for malware and tools designed for the theft of cryptocurrency is growing swiftly. ZDNet states, “The researchers estimate that over the past six months alone, a total of $1.1 billion has been stolen in cryptocurrency-related thefts, and approximately 12,000 marketplaces in the underbelly of the Internet are fueling this trend.”

Image courtesy of Carty Sewill, http://cartyisme.com/.

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Use our news to inform cryptocurrency trading decisions, stay up-to-date on happenings in the industry, and more!

Blockchain To Be Integrated In ‘Dungeon Defenders’ Game
Video game publisher Trendy Entertainment, Coindesk reports, “is partnering with startup Signal Zero to integrate a blockchain-based rewards system with its flagship Dungeon Defenders franchise.”

About Half Of Crypto Investors Plan To Hodl Long-Term
On June 7, 2018, BlockExplorer’s Julia Travers reported that South Korean Cryptocurrency Exchange Bithumb released the results of a user survey called, ‘Cryptographic Investment Trends’. It captured the perspective of 2,507 virtual currency investors over the age of 20. The survey included questions on investment plans and government regulations. A notable finding was that 42.8 percent of those surveyed plan to “hodl” or keep their crypto-investments over the long term.

Andy Warhol Art To Be Sold For Bitcoin Via Ethereum Blockchain
In the latest landmark for Bitcoin, Forbes reports, “cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, a London art gallery will later this month auction a portion of Andy Warhol’s 1980 work 14 Small Electric Chairs for cryptocurrencies.”

Chinese Whale Has Amassed Largest Non-Exchange Bitcoin Stash
BlockExplorer’s Tony Spilotro says, “A mysterious Chinese investor has been ‘buying the dip’ so to speak, again and again, amassing one of the largest bitcoin wallets in the entire world.”

Image courtesy of Carty Sewill, http://cartyisme.com/

bithumb

On June 7, 2018, South Korean Cryptocurrency Exchange Bithumb released the results of a user survey called, “Cryptographic Investment Trends.” It captured the perspective of 2,507 virtual currency investors over the age of 20. The survey included questions on investment plans and government regulations. A notable finding was that 42.8 percent of those surveyed plan to “hodl” or keep their crypto-investments over the long term. A Bithumb press release authored by “Bitsumm manager” states:

As cipher money continues to be recognized as an asset in major industrialized countries, the perception of cipher money investment is gradually matured by domestic investors.

Bithumb Survey Findings

The Bithumb survey discovered that the older the cryptocurrency buyer, the more likely they are to plan to hodl and make longstanding investments. Here are the percentages of each age range that plan to preserve their holdings:

  • Investors in their 20s: 30.8 percent
  • 30s: 40.3 percent
  • 40s: 45.3 percent
  • 50s and older: 49.1 percent

Bithumb also shares that 39.5 percent of those surveyed plan to keep their investments, even if the government requires them to pay capital gains taxes, or taxes levied on profits from the sale of assets, on cryptocurrency. This is an 11 percent increase over Bithumb survey data from a year ago. About 13.1 percent responded that they would completely stop investing in digital money if this tax is imposed. The exchange concludes, “more and more investors are looking at cryptographic money as assets and looking for stable investments.”

Bithumb was founded in 2015 and is one of one of the largest exchanges in South Korea. The survey was conducted between April 30 and May 6, 2018, through Bithumb Cafe, Bithumb’s official communication channel.

Other South Korean- and Bithumb-related News

South Korea continues its tumultuous journey to establish crypto-trading regulations, which included discussion of a total ban in January 2018.

Bithumb recently made regulatory headlines when it announced it would ban users from 11 countries in late May 2018 as part of its anti-money laundering or AML policies. Specifically, citizens of countries labelled as Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories, or NCCT, were banned as of May 28. NCCT countries are noncompliant with the standards set out by the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, or FATF, an intergovernmental organization established by the G-7 in 1989. This group of countries includes North Korea, Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka.

Bithumb stated in a related press release:

We will strictly enforce our own rules and protect our investors, and we will actively cooperate with the authorities. We will lead the standards of the Worldwide Codex Exchange with autonomous regulation ahead of schedule.

Earlier in 2018, South Korean exchanges including Bithumb banned anonymous cryptocurrency trading.

As of May 2018, Yoon Suk-heun, the new governor of the country’s Financial Supervisory Service, is reportedly considering relaxing cryptocurrency regulations.

The featured image is a collage featuring the Bithumb logo (credit: Bithumb) and a public domain survey image.