Platforms providing traders with the opportunity to exchange cryptocurrencies have increasingly started to apply registration requirements. In many cases, these are justified on the basis of newly introduced KYC and AML regulations. Thankfully, there are still exchanges that allow users to swap digital coins without requiring a verified account.
Losing the Balance, Again
The question regarding the balance between privacy and transparency predates the birth of Bitcoin. Decentralized digital currencies came into existence partly as a response to the trend of economies and societies moving in a cashless direction, which threatened privacy. In a way, they reintroduced the concept of cash, with its relative anonymity, into the digital space, and not at the full expense of transparency per se.
This new balance has been challenged. Crypto exchanges nowadays find themselves caught in the crossfire between what many of their customers want in terms of privacy, and what regulators require them to do to limit it. Identity verification makes some sense in the case of crypto-to-fiat transactions, for tax purposes or to prevent illicit activities. But crypto-to-crypto transactions have also become a target and it's not clear why – many countries, like Poland for example, exempt them from taxation.
Leading crypto exchanges operating in the U.S., Europe and globally are now collecting personal information from traders. This is sometimes done through loyalty programs that come with certain benefits and is often justified with the need to comply with new KYC and AML rules. These requests are usually accompanied with promises to protect the collected data. Critics have warned, however, that the risk of your sensitive info ending up with other vendors, being lost to hackers, or shared with some government, not necessarily your own, remains high.
Some crypto trading platforms have recognized the concerns of cryptocurrency users and offer services that are filling the gap left by established exchanges such as Shapeshift. We reported about some of the available alternatives last fall. New ones have since started to gain popularity among crypto enthusiasts including the following selection.