Cryptocurrency exchange ShapeShift has launched a new membership program that will eventually become mandatory for its users.
Positioned as a loyalty program, the initiative will see the startup offer a range of benefits while also moving to start collecting some personal information from its users, essentially forming a pivot away from its "exchange without accounts" model.
In a blog post, CEO Erik Voorhees wrote that "that last detail sucks" in reference to the plan to make the membership program mandatory, which will take place sometime later this year.
Nothing that "we would prefer if the collection of personal information was not a mandatory element," Voorhees went on to write:
"We still firmly believe that individuals, regardless of their race, religion, or nationality, deserve the right to financial privacy, just as they deserve the right to privacy in their thoughts, in their relationships, and in their communications. Such privacy is a foundational element of a civil and just society, and should be defended by all good people. We remain committed to that cause and it is best served if we are smart about our approach.
Members will receive discounts on exchange rates, volume-based rewards for transacting with the FOX token and higher transaction limits.
The broader changes, according to Voorhees, are a result of requests from ShapeShift users for account-related features, an "increasing interest in ... tokenization" and the regulatory uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency exchanges at present, he said.
"Membership is, in essence, an advanced loyalty program. It will lead over time both to better pricing and a superior user experience," he wrote.
While ShapeShift is adding new features for the program, Voorhees stressed, it will remain a non-custodial exchange, meaning it will not hold customer funds.
ShapeShift image via Piotr Swat / Shutterstock