Identity is the antidote for DEXs’ regulation problem

Regulators from Europe, the United States and elsewhere are busily hammering out details on how to designate decentralized exchanges (DEXs) as “brokers,” transaction agents or similar entities that affect a transfer and cooperate with each other. The U.S. called for multinational cooperation in its executive order on responsible digital asset development, as did the European Union with its recent Financial Stability and Integration Review. And that is just what’s publicly accessible. 

Behind the scenes, the whisper of regulation is getting louder. Did anyone notice that all the Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements have been laid on smaller centralized exchanges in exotic locations over the past two months? That was the canary in the coal mine. With the aforementioned designation and cooperation, DEXs will start to feel regulator heat soon.

Yes, regulations are coming, and the main reason why DEXs will hardly survive the coming storm is their proclaimed lack of ability to identify the users using and contributing to liquidity pools. In conventional financial circles, rendering services without proper KYC procedures is a big no-no. Not tracking identity allowed Russian oligarchs to use the Hawala payment service to anonymously move millions of dollars leading up to the war in Ukraine, so regulators are justifiably concerned about DEXs. For most DEX enthusiasts, KYC sounds like an insult, or at least, something that a DEX is fundamentally incapable of doing. Is that really the case, though?

If DEXs choose to ignore the regulatory pressure, it can end in one of two ways. Either more legitimate platforms can continue to adapt to growing government scrutiny and rising demand in crypto from more mainstream investors, who require usability and security, thereby leaving stubborn DEXs to die, or alternatively, unadaptable DEXs will move into the gray market of far-flung jurisdictions, tax havens and unregulated cash-like economies.

We have every reason to believe the former is a much likelier scenario. It’s time for DEXs to grow up with the rest of us or risk being regulated to death along with the shadier ghosts of crypto’s past.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Bob Reid is the current CEO and co-founder of Everest, a fintech company that leverages blockchain technologies for a more secure and inclusive multi-currency account, digital/biometric identity, payment platform and eMoney platform. As a licensed and registered financial institution, Everest supplies end-to-end financial solutions, facilitating eKYC/AML, digital identity and regulatory compliance associated with money movement. He was an advisor to Kai Labs, the general manager of licensing at BitTorrent, and vice president of strategy and business development at Neulion and DivX.