November 9, 2021

A note from Notabene's CEO Pelle Brændgaard

Many crypto users around the world go through similar trepidation when sending funds, “Is this the correct address?” “Have my funds arrived?” Seasoned crypto users eventually overcome this trepidation, but the general obscurity around counterparties creates an even greater risk of money laundering and terrorist financing.

For instance, crypto exchanges verify their user’s identities and check them against various lists of known terrorists the same way banks do, yet, a terrorist can create a brand new bitcoin address. The exchange currently does not have any way of blocking transactions to it. 

To close the loophole, the global Anti-Money Laundering regulatory watchdog FATF and national regulators like US’s FinCEN and Germany’s BaFin now require crypto exchanges to know with whom they are interacting on behalf of their customers. This recommendation is named the “Travel Rule,” as the customer’s private information “travels” along with the payment. Implementing Travel Rule requirements is very difficult for exchanges, as public blockchains–unlike bank payment networks–do not have a built-in method of transmitting identity information along with the transaction by design. 

My co-founders Alice, Ania, Andrés, and I, came from uPort, where we built the first decentralized identity protocol built on and for public blockchains. We designed uPort to allow parties to transactions or smart contracts to understand with whom they are transacting in the most privacy-preserving way possible.

In early 2020, we co-found Notabene to solve the compliance headache that exchanges now face. 

To solve Travel Rule compliance for the entire financial services industry, we began building a trusted data layer to blockchain transactions for protocol-agnostic communication. Now, more than 20+ businesses use our holistic software to manage counterparty risk with 50+ counterparties without impeding their customer’s transaction flow. 

Since we began, we’ve run testnets in cooperation with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Abu Dhabi Global Market (FSRA ADGM). We have global stablecoins like USTD and leading digital token trading platforms testing our solution. We set up monthly collaborative environments for firms to test cross-jurisdictional Travel Rule transactions in a low-risk environment as they gear up to comply with impending regulations.

But that’s just the beginning.

Notabene is on a path to remove global regulatory compliance complexity to cement crypto’s role in mainstream transactions. Ultimately our mission is to allow more people to transact on public blockchains. We are actively working on bringing both businesses and their end-users better, safer, and more privacy-preserving approaches to managing risk around crypto interactions. 

Our now 17-person strong team has built considerable traction around our Travel Rule solution that allows VASPs to identify virtual asset accounts, perform mandated VASP due diligence, and manage regulatory and counterparty risks from one holistic dashboard. We believe implementing the Travel Rule is foundational for blockchain technology; compliance will benefit the ultimate end users of crypto and will push crypto into much broader use cases than we’ve seen today.

We are very excited to announce our A round, which Jump Capital and F-Prime co-led. They were joined by Illuminate Financial, Fenbushi Capital, CMT Digital, and institutions like Gemini Frontier Fund, BlockFI, Luno, and BitSo. Our existing investors who believed in our mission from day one, Castle Island Ventures, Green Visor, and Signature Ventures, continued to grow their investment.

This round lets us expand on this to help us reach even more exchanges and financial institutions. If you’d like to join us on this quest, check out our Careers page. We have open roles across various departments.

We look forward to hearing from you!

- Pelle Brændgaard.

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