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Simplified KYC Means DeFi Compliance Without Compromising On Privacy


It’s almost impossible to remain anonymous in the traditional financial world because banks and other financial institutions will always demand some form of identity before they do business with anyone. That’s in stark contrast to crypto and decentralized finance, where users interact via their wallets and never need to reveal anything about them.

But the crypto industry is coming under pressure to change, and it’s being put in an uncomfortable situation where it’s being asked to adhere to Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering regulations. It’s a big headache for crypto because asking users to reveal their identities, clashes with the industry’s ideals of open access and user privacy.

Why Is KYC A Problem For Crypto?

Traditional banks and financial services providers have long ago implemented KYC and AML as a part of their security procedures. These processes are designed to gather information about who they’re dealing with and verify each customer’s identity before they onboard them. By doing so, the institution can assess the risk profile of each user. It’s an important step as it helps to prevent criminals and terrorists from depositing funds related to their illicit activities.

When crypto and DeFi first emerged, there were no obligations to adhere to KYC because the industry was completely unregulated. Digital assets were essentially the Wild West, a consequence of the crypto industry’s desire to remain decentralized and anonymous so it could be accessed by anyone. As such, most crypto exchanges and DeFi protocols didn’t know anything at all about their customers.

Decentralization is one of the founding principles of cryptocurrency. Its very premise lies in the concept of eliminating the centralized entities that dominate traditional finance. Crypto and DeFi aim to democratize finance based on peer-to-peer transactions in every aspect, whether that’s a simple payment, a loan, cryptocurrency trading, yield farming, staking, or something else. DeFi enables users to access a wide range of financial services anonymously so that anyone can participate without fear of exclusion.

But the crypto industry is striving for mainstream adoption, and it has gotten the attention of governments that desire to regulate it. As such, many crypto firms, including exchange platforms and DeFi protocols, have come under pressure from regulatory bodies such as the Financial Action Task Force. In 2021 for example, FATF published guidance for “virtual asset service providers” that recommends a crackdown on exchanges and DeFi protocols that do business without conducting KYC and AML checks.

Compliance Can Be Good For Crypto

The pressure being placed on the crypto industry to adhere to traditional KYC and AML checks has resulted in a day of reckoning for many exchanges and DeFi protocols. They can either choose to be compliant and remain on the good side of the law, and therefore make themselves more attractive to institutional investors and corporate customers, or they can continue as they have and miss out on the expected windfall and traction that will come as more funds from traditional financial players enters the crypto market.

Most will likely contemplate how they can remain compliant without compromising the foundational principles of decentralization and anonymity. Luckily, there are a few innovations that make this possible.

For crypto platforms and DeFi protocols, compliance can be a good thing. By incorporating robust KYC measures, they can attract the growing number of institutional customers looking to seize the opportunities presented by digital money. By demonstrating that they take compliance seriously, protocols can help to expand their user bases.

What’s more, KYC doesn’t necessarily mean users will lose their anonymity or be unable to access such services, for it’s possible to verify users in non-invasive ways.

KYC Without The Docs

That’s the idea behind Ramp Network’s newly announced document-free KYC process, which has already gone live in Brazil and is expected to become available in additional markets soon. Ramp is a crypto onboarding service that makes it easy for people to buy and sell crypto in dozens of major traditional currencies. It offers a standalone app for trading, and it also provides an API for DeFi protocols to integrate its services within their dApps.

In Brazil, KYC has been streamlined in such a way that users don’t even have to provide any documents. Instead, they can simply upload a selfie and enter their government tax number, and the app will verify them in real time. So there’s no more scrambling around trying to find a document with your address printed on it. So long as you can remember your tax number, you can complete the process in seconds, not only on Ramp’s app, but on any DeFi dApp that integrates Ramp.

Ramp believes that streamlining the KYC process not only improves privacy but also attracts more people to start using cryptocurrencies. Even better, after completing Ramp’s KYC process, users can link popular digital wallets such as Trust Wallet and MetaMask and use those to access hundreds of supported DeFi apps in a way that’s fully compliant yet totally anonymous.

Anonymous, Whitelisted Wallets

While Ramp offers one option for DeFi, there are alternatives in the form of newer protocols that make it possible for a trusted third party to carry out the identification and verification processes for KYC. This allows for the user’s wallet to be whitelisted and granted access to DeFi protocols, which will remain decentralized and have no information on their users, except for knowing that they’re verified.

Decentralized identity services such as KYC-Chain and Oasis Network perform KYC using third parties and employ account abstraction techniques to create an ID that’s stored on the blockchain, which cannot be accessed by any DeFi platform. DeFi protocols can accept the decentralized ID as proof that the customer is verified, but they won’t be able to access any data about that person’s identity.

These privacy-preserving approaches to KYC enable crypto and DeFi services providers to meet regulatory requirements without compromising their decentralized principles, achieving the ultimate balancing act between compliance and privacy. In this way, they satisfy the government’s demands for users to be verified, as well as the user’s wishes to remain anonymous.

Compliance & Privacy Can Co-Exist

It’s believed that many institutional investors are eager to enter the crypto space, but the idea of transacting with anonymous parties online is just too risky for them to contemplate. By becoming compliant, crypto and DeFi platforms will encourage more institutional investors to embrace the industry.

There’s lots of evidence to support this argument. In 2021, it was widely reported that traditional financial services providers such as PayPal and Robinhood were pressuring Uniswap, the biggest decentralized exchange platform in the business, to introduce mandatory KYC checks for its users. More recently, the launch of Bitcoin ETFs by traditional financial giants such as BlackRock, Fidelity, and Greyscale demonstrates such institutions have a big appetite for crypto.

By satisfying these demands for compliance, crypto and DeFi open the door for the world’s wealthiest investors to enter the space, and that will significantly boost the industry’s hopes of achieving mass adoption.


Disclaimer: The Industry Talk section presents information from cryptocurrency brokers and is not part of the editorial content of

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