What Is KYC (Know Your Customer)?
Oct 27, 2022•3 min read
Financial service companies must identify and confirm their clients in order to comply with Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures. As part of their Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) compliance efforts to prevent financial crime and guarantee customer due diligence, they carry out this action.
By gathering and checking consumer data, KYC proactively combats illicit conduct. These controls bolster industry confidence and assist financial service providers in controlling their risks. With bitcoin exchanges, KYC has become standard practice. Critics claim that it eliminates the privacy and decentralization that make cryptocurrencies so popular.
Financial service providers are required to comply with a common regulatory obligation known as KYC. These controls primarily work to prevent the funding of and money laundering from illegal activities. KYC is a crucial component of anti-money laundering laws, making it a crucial safeguard for cryptocurrencies in particular. To protect clients and their assets, financial institutions and service providers like Binance are being forced to develop stringent KYC procedures.
What is KYC?
You presumably had to submit to a KYC check if you opened an account with a bitcoin exchange. As part of KYC, financial service providers are required to collect information to verify the identity of their consumers. This might be accomplished, for instance, by providing official identification or bank statements. Similar to AML regulations, KYC requirements support efforts to combat fraud, money laundering, and the unauthorized movement of cash.
KYC often takes a proactive rather than a reactive strategy. Before they may conduct financial transactions, the majority of financial service providers collect a customer's information throughout the onboarding process. Accounts can occasionally be opened without KYC, although their capabilities are constrained. For instance, Binance permits account opening but limits trading until KYC is finished.
When completing KYC, you may be required to provide your Government ID, driving license, or passport.
It's crucial to authenticate a customer's location and address in addition to their identification. Basic details like your name and date of birth are included on your identity documents, but more information is required, for instance, to determine your tax residence. Most likely, you will need to complete more than one KYC step. Financial service companies frequently need to periodically re-verify the identification of their clients.
Who regulates KYC compliance?
Although country-specific KYC laws vary, there is worldwide collaboration on the essential data required. Most of the AML and KYC procedures in use today were created in the US by the Bank Secrecy Act and the 2001 Patriot Act. Although the EU and the Asia-Pacific region have created their own legislation, they heavily resemble US laws. The primary framework for EU nations is provided by the PSD2 laws and the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD). The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) organizes international collaboration on regulatory requirements on a worldwide scale.
Why do we need KYC in crypto?
Cryptocurrencies are frequently utilized for tax avoidance and the laundering of criminal cash because to their pseudonymous nature. Enhancing cryptocurrency regulation enhances its repute and ensures that taxes are paid as required. In the bitcoin sector, KYC checks are necessary for three main reasons:
1. All transactions on the blockchain are final. Because there is no admin to assist you if you make a mistake, money might be taken or transferred without being able to be recovered.
2. Bitcoin is largely anonymous (pseudonymous). To open a crypto wallet, you are not required to provide any personal information.
3. Taxation and the legitimacy of cryptocurrency in many nations are still regulated issues.
Although KYC extends the time required to open an account, it offers definite advantages. Although the typical client won't necessarily be able to see them, KYC has a big influence on preventing fraud and keeping your money secure.
What are the benefits of KYC?
There are other less obvious advantages to KYC. However, it significantly goes beyond only preventing fraud and may enhance the financial system as a whole:
1. When a customer's identification and financial background are established, lenders can more quickly determine their risk. More responsible lending and risk management result from this method.
2. It fights against financial fraud and other forms of identity theft.
3. As a preventative step, it lowers the likelihood that money laundering will take place in the first place.
4. It enhances consumer confidence in financial service providers' security and accountability. This reputation has an impact on the whole financial sector and may attract investment.
Arguments against KYC
Although KYC offers many apparent advantages, some people still find it to be contentious. Due to its history and heritage, arguments against KYC are increasingly prevalent in the bitcoin market. Typically, privacy and expense concerns account for the majority of its criticism:
1. Conducting KYC checks entails an additional expense that is sometimes passed on to the client in the form of fees.
2. Some people lack the paperwork needed for KYC checks or may not have a permanent residence. They find it challenging to get access to some financial services as a result.
3. Data security may be lacking at careless financial service providers, and hackers may result in the theft of your personal information.
4. According to others, it contradicts the decentralization of cryptocurrencies.