AN OPEN LETTER TO BRAVE USERS FROM UPHOLD’S CEO
Dear Brave User,
At Uphold, we are well aware of the apparent contradictions inherent in requiring users of a renowned ‘privacy browser’ to disclose personal financial information.
Unfortunately, a battery of US and international money transmission laws, starting with the United States’ Bank Secrecy Act enacted in 1970, made international with the founding of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 1989, and most recently reinforced by the Patriot Act of 2001 (not to mention the Proceeds of Crime Act of 2002, the 2000 & 2001 Terrorism Acts & Counter Terrorism Act of 2008) all mean that there is no way of lawfully enabling the transmission of money (or similar value, of any kind) without performing minimal Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), Know-Your-Client (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) checks on all participants in the system.
As a company that is continually striving to thrill and delight its users, we appreciate the friction that these legal requirements impose: rejecting and restricting thousands of potential customers who trigger ‘false positives’ is not something we like doing, and take very seriously.
Often working with partners, we are relentlessly pursuing technologies and methods that hold the promise of removing friction and frustration from the user experience while delivering better, more high-fidelity information to the regulators. Think what you might of ‘The Man’, for crypto to become mainstream - stopping bad actors and protecting consumers are going to be key considerations… nearly as important as all the innovation, access, convenience and efficiencies our industry promises.
For example, commercial travel was a lot more delightful before September, 2001. I remember getting picked for my fourth consecutive ‘random’ search and thinking, “Wow. If this is happening to me, I can’t imagine if mine was a more commonly flagged name like ‘Abdullah’.” (turns out one-way tickets aren’t a good idea). Since those days and after many years, solutions like Global Entry and Clear have made travel marginally better for those that have the time and money to sign up.
At Uphold we’ve been working continuously, often with our partners, to come up with solutions that can make life significantly easier for consumers, while enhancing the quality and fidelity of information required by regulators.
Uphold’s foremost partner in this effort is globaliD. Working with globaliD, we believe we are not too far away from a point where:
- Users can enjoy portable, self-sovereign identity based on Zero Knowledge Proofs;
- Financial companies like Uphold can save many $billions of dollars not duplicating each others’ onboarding compliance processes; and
- Regulators can be comfortable that not only do they have more reliable, immutable information, but that there’s a lot less sensitive personal information (PII) out there to be hacked, compromised or commercialized.
Using Zero Knowledge Proof methodologies, Uphold might need to know, for example, that a user is over 21, but not the exact birthdate; we might need to know that a user’s annual income is above $250k, but not his actual income; we might need to know someone is not a resident of the U.S., China or an OFAC country, but not her actual country of residence; that someone has an active U.S. brokerage account, but not the actual details, and so on.
All these data points, or ‘attestations’ would accrue to a singular globaliD, wherein not only could a new user go from sign-up to trading in a matter of seconds, and take control of their singular digital identity, but the same scanning of a QR code could be performed by any other financial institution in the identical manner. It would be up to individual institutions to determine what level of attestations they require for different levels of activity.
Such a system would spare the world of consumers the repetitive tedium and frustration of signing up for financial services and it would spare the industry many $billions in duplicated costs. Lastly, security would become a question of something someone possesses, rather than something someone knows, and thus the insecure Username - Password paradigm could become a thing of the past.
Uphold and Brave have enjoyed a close partnership over the past few years. We are firm believers in the importance and world-changing possibilities of Brave’s mission, and we have made a significant bet on Brave since the very early days.
In our view, Brave is the most advanced ecosystem in the realm of crypto and the closest to jumping the rails into mass market relevance - if they haven’t jumped over already! So while nobody wishes to arbitrarily foist the rigors of compliance on anyone, we ask for your understanding in realizing that not only are we all best served by living up to our legal and regulatory obligations - again, it’s critical for the industry to move forward - but we are also going to great lengths to invent a means of accomplishing the regulators’ requirements, while at the same time improving convenience, accuracy, self-sovereignty and security for everyone.
Two parting thoughts:
- Bear in mind that Brave’s privacy features are so rigorous that without Uphold’s compliance filters, the system would be dupe-account and botted to death within a short amount of time. Alas, there’s still a staggering number of sh@theads out there, even in this beautiful new world.
- There is much talk of Libra these days. In our view, Facebook is exactly the wrong company to mount the charge. Not only is Facebook part of The Establishment, it is also the poster-child for the invasive and creepy mercantilism that has led to the existence and popularity of Brave... nevermind the Winklevoss bitcoin karma! If anyone wants a glimpse at the real revolution - here and now rather than in two years and on the other side of an unlikely political slog - look no further than the interplay between the Uphold wallet and the balances reflected directly in the Brave browser. It’s all right there, a Brave new world of nearly limitless possibilities.
These are extraordinarily exciting times for the Brave ecosystem, and crypto itself. A better, faster, more private Internet is here. We are all in this together!
(And if you believe you have been unfairly flagged by our filters, please do not hesitate to contact Bravesupport@uphold.com, where Brave users will receive priority attention.)
Long live Brave!
Onward and Upward,
CEO and Co-founder, Uphold