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Former S&P President Leads Seed Round for ICO Compliance Startup

Regtech and compliance startup iComply has just completed a seed funding round led by former Standard and Poor’s president Deven Sharma.

The firm – which seeks to develop standard compliance tools and services for other blockchain startups and in particular those which launch initial coin offerings or ICOs – announced Monday that it raised a seven-figure number during the round, although it did not provide an exact figure. DMG Blockchain and Block X Capital also participated in the round.

In its announcement, iComply also revealed that former CFTC official Jeff Bandman, former Nasdaq and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) executive Manny Alicandro, MIT fellow Praveen Mandal and attorney Thomas Linder have joined the startup as advisers.

In conversation with CoinDesk, Sharma said he chose to invest in iComply specifically because of the startup’s “focus on compliance and risk services for ICOs.” Compliance, he said, will help ease regulator concerns by providing transparency into ICO issuers.

Sharma also believes that the firm can aid adoption by supporting traditional financial services firms looking into the technology.

“My interest is to see iComply evolve into a benchmark that investors can use to assess credibility of issuers, sustainability of underlying services and the price of ICOs,” he said.

The startup’s founder and chief executive, Matthew Unger, said in a statement that new ICOs and exchanges will have to answer to regulators including FINRA, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, among others.

As such, he said, “iComply’s patent-pending software enables both security and utility tokens to monitor and document compliance, governance and risk procedures, before a public blockchain executes an immutable trade, providing trust, integrity and transparency for our clients.”

Sharma explained that new tools like blockchain still need transparency to build investor confidence. Doing so, he said, “will allow for more growth of innovative ways of raising funds and investment – I see iComply as a critical component of making the entire ICO space more successful, because it provides the confidence.”

The concepts of transparency and trust, he said, were what sparked his interest in blockchain to begin with.

That said, Sharma said he has yet to invest in any token sales, telling CoinDesk:

‘There have been a few ICOs that had a fundamentally robust offering that I understood and did interest me [but I] missed the opportunity. Others that have transparency from a service like iComply, I would [invest in].”

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Former Reuters Risk Exec Joins Crypto Compliance Startup

Thomson Reuters’ former head of World-Check is moving to a blockchain startup focused on regulatory compliance.

Greg Pinn, who ran Thomson Reuters’ risk intelligence and financial crime screening platform, will now be in charge of product strategy at iComply, which focuses on using blockchain and artificial intelligence to maintain immutable records. So far the startup has launched a know-your-customer (KYC) tool, as well as a toolkit for blockchain startups looking to add governance and compliance systems, according to a press release.

In a statement, Pinn said that KYC processes are important for cryptocurrencies, and he plans for iComply to be an industry standard in the space.

Pinn explained:

“Both World-Check and iComply are in the KYC space, and World-Check came about at a time before there even really was a compliance space – it was one of the first players in the market to solve a major problem. iComply is doing the same thing for the emerging blockchain and crypto world, not only removing the ‘tinfoil hat’ from crypto but solving a real problem and building a solution for it.”

Matthew Unger, chief executive and founder of iComply, said in a statement that cryptocurrency exchanges and startups need better KYC tools than most use at present, which means they do not actually comply with certain legal requirements.

As such, he sees iComply as filling a need for regulatory compliance, adding that “The irony of the cryptocurrency markets is that while blockchain opened the door to non-compliance with ICOs initially, the underlying technology actually has the ability to provide more robust and effective compliance, transparency and integrity than traditional tools, at a fraction of the cost.”

“Existing legacy tools and services do not have the capabilities to assess the unique risks within cryptocurrency markets. This has allowed iComply to raise the standards of compliance in the industry, enabling institutional wealth to start participating in the growth of global financial decentralization,” he said.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.