Crypto investors are now encountering many legal crypto jargons never heard before such as Know Your Customer (KYC). This digital age is making it harder for businesses and individuals to secure investments from fraudulent activities. Many social media pages reveal several warnings about fake pages and links set up for phishing scams, and credit card hacks. Counterfeit IDs and identity theft are also a big worry.

To tackle such issues, governments, regulators, and businesses now need you to identify yourself with a government-issued photo ID and to fill and sign forms. This allows the KYC process to add a layer of protection on specific accounts or transactions.

What is KYC?

KYC (Know Your Customer) refers to the verification and security processes the recipient enforces for an application to confirm the applicant’s identity. The tool allows an individual or company to prove the identity of the applicant. KYC processes not only protect customers from the theft of data and funds but also:

  • Protect institutions from possible legal penalties and fines if they don’t adhere to the policies outlined by the authorities and
  • Prevent money-laundering, terrorist financing, and tax evasion.

Examples of KYC Practices

  • Complicated usernames and passwords that are difficult to hack and need to be changed occasionally.
  • Pre-arranged questions and answers between the two parties for future transactions.
  • Background checks and credit ratings.
  • In the most extreme cases, fingerprint scans.

KYC Concerns

KYC views ICOs or token fraud as a big issue and thus discourages mainstream adoption and investment in ICOs and cryptocurrencies. This is because several crypto scams have made away with millions of dollars in fake ICOs, leaving investors with no recourse for reclaiming their stolen funds. As a result, many credit card companies have banned buying and selling cryptocurrencies.

The anonymity and decentralisation of the blockchain ecosystem make it easier for fraudsters to commit fraud and disappear. Regulators such as SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) can penalise companies which aid the sale of non-compliant ICOs or launder money via cryptocurrency.

Many ICOs are also searching for a way to put identities on-chain and establish more secure protocols for institutions to authenticate ID info and conduct KYC processes without exposing user data.

Methods ICOs Adopt for KYC Use

KYC mechanisms help ICOs install their own systems to protect from fraudulent contributions. Despite these efforts, the industry lacks a basic standard due to the decentralised space. This is because some ICOs only require an email, name and ETH address to invest, while others need more intensive scrutiny and verification similar to the ones used by financial institutions.

Many moderate countries such the US, EU, and South Korea have now decreed KYC and AML laws as the platform for all digital currency transactions. In conjunction with the European Central Bank, the European Parliament passed legislation requiring KYC and AML rules in the industry. But countries such as France and Japan have been less strict, though implement similar regulations by improving variable KYC laws to local crypto exchanges.

Previously, a crypto trader could join an exchange and leave without verification as KYC was only involved in large financial transactions. But that standard has changed as KYC comes in before a user can trade, whether in volume or not.