Two blockchain platforms, both proof-of-stake, are trying to stay on the right side of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) “Travel Rule.”
In separate announcements on Thursday, the Algorand and Tezos Foundations said they had linked up with two analytics companies, Chainalysis and Coinfirm, respectively, to help bake regulatory compliance into their eponymous blockchains.
It’s been very nearly a year since the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global anti-money laundering (AML) watchdog, updated its guidance for nations to stipulate that crypto companies must store and disclose information about senders and receivers, above a certain transaction threshold.
In Algorand’s case, Chainalysis will provide a know-your-transaction (KYT) solution, allowing its foundation to monitor large volumes of on-chain activity for the native ALGO token and report any suspicious transactions to the authorities.
While Algorand emphasizes that the new integration will enhance trust and security, the specter of regulation is never too far away. As it says in a press release, the new integration will enable the foundation to “fulfill their regulatory obligations to report suspicious activity.”
In a statement, Fangfang Chen, the Algorand Foundation’s chief operating officer, said the integration would allow it to meet regulatory requirements in Singapore. “We needed a compliance partner that could not only help us adhere to regulations in Singapore where we are based but also global regulatory best practices,” she said.
Over the past 12 months, some national regulators have transposed FATF’s “Travel Rule” into local law. The U.S’ Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), one of the first regulators to implement the Travel Rule back in May 2019, has continued with a minimum threshold of $3,000.
Singapore announced in January that parties involved in crypto transactions worth more than 1,500 Singapore dollars (around US$1,100) would have to be ready to disclose identities.
Chainalysis told CoinDesk that while the integration was not a “comprehensive solution to Travel Rule compliance,” it would help the Algorand Foundation meet some of the requirements, including picking out transactions that trigger the Travel Rule, as well as identifying relevant senders and receivers.
“FATF’s guidance states that automated transaction monitoring and customer risk scoring are essential components of an effective anti-money laundering program,” a spokesperson said in an email. “Chainalysis provides the transaction monitoring software required to hold a license in Singapore and comply with regulatory requirements in other FATF jurisdictions.”
Tezos’ tie-up with Coinfirm’s is broader, allowing its foundation and commercial entities such as exchanges to monitor activity on the protocol. Rather than a partnership, it’s more that Coinfirm’s AML Platform will be available for Tezos and XTZ transactions.
Generally, though, Tezos’ deal with Coinfirm runs along the same lines as Algorand’s integration with Chainalysis.
“One of the largest roadblocks for the growth of blockchain protocols and cryptocurrencies in the global regulated market has been focused on AML compliance regulations,” reads a press release. “AML has become a required feature for protocols and related assets who want a leadership position in the market and the capability to operate in regulated markets globally.”
Speaking to CoinDesk, Coinfirm CEO and co-founder Pawel Kuskowski said FATF, and broader AML compliance, were among the main motivations behind Tezos’ integration with its AML platform.
“It will allow entities using XTZ and its ecosystem to become FATF compliant under AML requirements…while paving the way for them to further implement Travel Rule dedicated solutions,” he said. “Overall, the greatest inhibiting factor when it comes to the growth of protocols is AML-related regulations.”
For protocols to work in regulated markets, they have to meet set guidelines. “The Tezos integration [with Coinfirm] allows for XTZ to operate according to AML guidelines in regulated markets including FATF AML guidelines,” Kuskowski said.
The Tezos Foundation declined to comment for this article.
The Travel Rule was met with trepidation when first unveiled. Many in the industry were concerned it could spell the end for cryptocurrency transactions by eroding user privacy and making the compliance burden on exchanges and other companies too much to bear.
But while there have been some negative effects, such as options exchanges Deribit being pushed out of the Netherlands, in other ways it may be good for the industry: Germany’s second-largest exchange, Boerse Stuttgart, said the strong AML rules have made crypto attractive to a growing institutional audience.
And it isn’t only Tezos and Algorand that have made themselves FATF compliant. Soon after the Travel Rule guidance was announced, Coinfirm inked a deal with Ripple to tag transactions on the XRP ledger that may have been laundered through mixer services.
Cryptocurrency intelligence provider CipherTrace has also rolled out its own solution, allowing wallet services and exchanges to securely share information about their customers to comply with the Travel Rule.
A year on, and with the Travel Rule now being enacted into local laws, it appears that instead of scurrying away, the crypto industry is simply adapting to the new regulatory landscape.