Why compliance matters with blockchain

May 3, 2017 by Roel Boer, Nocks
Mobile identity verification makes blockchain technology safer One of the most used words over the past couple of years; blockchain. Gateway to the promised land; the technology that will make a wide range of institutions obsolete and that will unleash an ever growing number of opportunities for innovation. Yes, blockchain is one of the most advanced and most promising pieces of tech of our time. Which makes it harder to apply than to talk about.                                                                                                                         

Performing transactions is the primary function, but the cool thing is that a blockchain transaction doesn’t necessarily have to be a financial one. This is why so many people, companies, institutions, and governments are so excited about the technology. A decentralized way of transacting encrypted information across the world, within minutes. Now, that’s worth being excited about.

Different kinds of blockchain technology

There is not just one blockchain; it’s true that the term is widely used because its generalization helps comprehend the technology. It also avoids the uncomfortable conversation about the fact of that there are about 500 different digital currencies. Of which only maybe 10 are interesting for real applications.

Anti-fraud, identity management, and government-level service applications are very fascinating and frequently explored use-cases for blockchain. The more straightforward use-cases for blockchain can be found in finance. An area where my company Nocks excels and innovates.

To succeed in this field, we combine blockchain technology and other new and fast-paced technologies with existing infrastructure and our own applications. Specifically, we use Gulden blockchain technology, which is, in our opinion, one of the most interesting platforms and digital currencies to work with when you’re looking for speed, usability, and reliability.

The idea behind Nocks

Nocks is one of those companies that people have a hard time understanding. It operates within the financial industry, being part of the newer fintech movement, a space where hardly anything has changed in the past decade or so. To come out and start a company that uses blockchain with a team that is not from the finance space is a little odd. What Nocks ultimately wants isn’t odd at all – we want freedom of currency. It shouldn’t matter how you want to pay, but that you can pay. Regardless of the currency you want to use and the currency the person or company you’re paying to wants to receive.

To make this a reality, we create financial tools for everyday users, entrepreneurs, traders, and developers. This way every important aspect of currency is maintained, on the premise that Nocks doesn’t have to control the currency – you can do it. This is where Gulden blockchain comes in for us and this is one of the most important benefits of blockchain.

It’s decentralized, meaning the people and companies that use it are in control of their funds, but can’t do anything with other people’s funds. There is no central institution that controls the communication stream. Basically, every user is part of the network that makes the entire currency flow and communicate.

Another great benefit of blockchain is that anyone can download a wallet and get started with the currency in question. Though, for companies delivering tools that’s not always a benefit.

Completely open versus curated

You could choose to be completely open, everyone can enter and do transactions. And technically, you can – as there are not a lot of official rules for blockchain companies within the fintech vertical. That’s all fine when your service is blockchain-only and doesn’t connect to any existing systems. In our case, we use a combination of infrastructures and technologies – and tie them together to innovate in the financial space.

In finance, the rules and regulations aren’t there for show. Where there’s money, there are people on the prowl. Rules and regulations are not just about anti-money laundering (AML) or to prevent financing criminal activities. They also meant to be anti-fraud.

To protect both the users of our platform and ourselves, we chose a curated approach. Which basically means that anyone can register, but according to a few rules. These rules coincide with AML and KYC-policies, to tick all necessary boxes. If a user “misbehaves” sort of speak, he or she will most likely be banned from the platform and, if pertinent, reported to relevant authorities.

Compliance is key

To make sure that you have actual people on your platform, that they are who they say they are and can be trusted, you need to verify their identity and details.

Compliance is key for a trustworthy Nocks. Key to our users and key to us.

Checking identity cards and passports in an automated way that is part of an automated sign-up process is where Mitek comes in. Mitek’s MobileVerify give us the opportunity to check someone’s identity within minutes. This adds to a smoother sign-up process, compliant with financial laws, and provides a higher level of safety for everyone using Nocks.

What about privacy? Yes, well, try opening a bank account without your ID card or passport. That probably won’t work. We’re an online platform, so of course your privacy concerns are valid. After we’ve verified your identity and checked all the boxes we need to check, we anonymize your upload.

After an identity check, for example, we use document-specific data to cross-reference several government-issued lists to screen for the new customer’s insolvency, conviction of financial crimes or them being on the SDN-list.

You can imagine doing this manually is a) very risky as you are prone to making mistakes and b) very time consuming. Automation is key in this process. Having such an extensive process before you allow someone on your platform may seem excessive, but to us it’s crucial to keep our platform safe and able to keep moving forward. Mitek’s identity verification software is therefore definitely worth our time and money.

Can’t do it with just blockchain

Blockchain isn’t something you can use for everything and it’s not the only thing you need to build something. In our case, operating within the financial services sector, you can’t use blockchain without compliance. Unless you want to stay in some kind of niche, which can be fine – but we want more. So to us blockchain, finance, and compliance go hand in hand – because of the way we combine, develop and use everything. 

People already expect payments and the several platforms they use to provide a certain standard and ease of use. That freedom of choosing which platform handles your finances, how, and when – this is a growing and logical trend. Combining all of these technologies with a high-grade service is what we do and we do it in a particular way:  we ensure a secure, cost-effective, and frictionless way to pay; pushing payments instead of having to access someone’s bank account, giving the user control… And the ‘only’ reward we get is delivering such an outstanding service.

In short, this is the way we think finance should be: independent and cost-effective thanks to blockchain, safe thanks to compliance, and frictionless thanks to a high-grade service.

Nocks makes paying bills easier, streamlines POS-tools for companies, and offers innovative financial trading mechanisms. Using advanced machine learning and algorithmic-based checks developed by Mitek Labs, new Nocks users simply scan their passport or ID card using the camera on their smartphone for real-time identity verification. By integrating Mitek’s technology in the early stages of our registration process, Nocks ensures that all required identity verification is done upfront, allowing them to quickly and securely unlock all payment options for their customers.