Know Your Customer, or KYC, is a mandatory process where businesses gather information about clients to ensure compliance with the regulations. In terms of crypto companies, it is a way to identify customers to prevent fraud and ensure they are of legal age to hold, trade and generally use cryptocurrencies.
This article is a cornerstone of a series of texts related to KYC brought to you by CasinosBlockchain, your premier source of all things online crypto casinos. Stay tuned to learn more about the impact of KYC policies on crypto casinos and the implications thereof.
At the nascent stages of the crypto industry, it was all about decentralisation and anonymity. The ability to perform complete transactions outside of the traditional financial system and not worry about regulatory oversight was a boon to crypto holders and brought about the unfettered growth of the crypto industry.
However, at the same time, concerns about money laundering, fraud, and all other kinds of illicit activities and financial risks were raised by regulators across the globe.
In 2014, regulatory bodies like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issued reports about potential AML/CFT risks associated with using virtual currencies. In its revised guidelines on cryptocurrencies released in 2019 and 2021, all virtual asset service providers (VASPs) must comply with its anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) regulations.
One of the most comprehensive laws due to take effect in 2024 is the European Union’s Markets in Crypto Assets regulation, MiCA.
Under the new law that will apply in all 27 member states, clear and definite rules about KYC, treatment of stablecoins, trading, and other KYC-related matters such as tax evasion and money laundering.
The incorporation of KYC norms fundamentally altered the crypto industry. While it curtailed some of the anonymity that early adopters cherished, it also brought legitimacy and stability to the market. Institutional investors, previously wary of the regulatory grey areas, started investing in cryptocurrencies, leading to their mainstream acceptance.
The fact that unified crypto regulations on a global scale are virtually impossible, countries are left on their own to devise strategies and approaches to the developing industry.
Businesses in the crypto space, including casinos, adapt to diverse KYC requirements by implementing compliance processes like obtaining customer credentials. These credentials include name, address, birth date, and ID proof.
This adaptation is crucial for legality and security. Users experience varying levels of anonymity based on the exchange’s KYC protocols, impacting their interaction with the crypto market.
Globally, KYC and AML standards differ across jurisdictions, influencing business operations and user engagement. One of the world’s most reputable gambling regulators, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), has been at the forefront of regulating the use of crypto in the industry.
Namely, through its Sandbox Framework, MGA will allow gaming operators to accept/use Distributed Ledger Technology (‘DLT’) assets and cryptocurrencies. However, players depositing in Virtual Currencies (VC) will have to complete the verification process within thirty days of the first deposit. The process will also be automatically triggered once a player deposits €150 or more.
To manage these challenges, businesses increasingly resorted to the use of technologies like AI, smart contracts, machine learning, and biometric authentication to streamline KYC processes, enhancing security and efficiency.
For example, smart contracts significantly enhance KYC processes by introducing automation and standardization in data collection and verification.
They are based on blockchain technology and, as such, offer secure and decentralized data storage, thus reducing the risk of identity theft. Smart contracts streamline the KYC workflow through coded procedures, which in turn minimizes the need for manual intervention and speeds up the verification process.
Privacy coins, designed to offer enhanced anonymity in transactions, present a significant challenge to KYC norms. These coins, like Monero and Zcash, prioritise user privacy, often obscuring the transaction trail, so the exchanges and crypto wallets can’t figure out who the sender was, what was sent, and to whom.
This fundamental design clashes with regulatory compliance, which mandates transparency to prevent financial crimes like money laundering and terrorism funding.
The crypto community is divided: some advocate for strict adherence to KYC for safety and legitimacy, while others argue this undermines the decentralized, privacy-centric ethos of cryptocurrencies.
These controversies fuel ongoing debates, highlighting the tension between the need for regulatory oversight and the desire for privacy in the digital currency space.
KYC (Know Your Customer) regulations in the cryptocurrency world have gone from non-existent to a robust and complex system, primarily driven by global laws like the EU’s AML Directives and the USA’s Bank Secrecy Act and the growing concerns over illegal activities related to cryptocurrencies.
The general sentiment is that crypto businesses, including crypto casinos, will be able to legally allow customers to use cryptocurrencies as long as they perform the KYC policy.
Advancements in AI and blockchain are poised to further streamline KYC processes, with the potential for a unified global regulatory framework. However, the rise of privacy coins continues to challenge the balance between regulatory compliance and user anonymity. This calls for a more comprehensive and continuous analysis of the industry and broader implementation of technological solutions that could reconcile the two competing priorities.