2021 has been a transformational year for the world and the cryptocurrency industry.
As the world grew accustomed to starts and stops to the economy, WFH policies, Zoom rooms, meme coins, and NFTs ensured that crypto was here to stay. The greater public found their first foray into the crypto space through meme coins, word of mouth, and monkey NFTs.
2021 is the year that digital assets went mainstream. Crypto attracted more money in 2021 than the previous years combined–the total market cap of cryptocurrency reached $3 trillion in 2021. Venture capital funds invested around $30 billion into cryptocurrency this year. At the same time, 2021 was a monumental year for crypto losses. Overall losses caused by DeFi exploits have totaled $12 billion so far in 2021, according to Notabene partner Elliptic. Fraud and theft accounted for $10.5 billion of that sum — a sevenfold increase from last year.
This is where Notabene comes in.
Notabene makes crypto transactions a part of the everyday economy by providing software, tools, and comprehensive data to manage regulatory and counterparty risks in crypto transactions. 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.
In early 2020, we founded 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.
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 safely. The proof is in the pudding–Notabene customer Bitbuy became the first Canadian crypto firm to be both a registered marketplace and restricted dealer. Additionally, we’ve made it even easier for companies to get started by introducing a free Sunrise plan, which helps VASPs kickstart their compliance journey at their own pace. In particular, counterparty VASPs to our customers can now respond to travel rule requests securely and at ease.
This post highlights product launches, team metrics, and accomplishments that defined Notabene in 2021.
1. We raised a $10.2M fundraise
In November, we announced our A round, co-led by Jump Capital and F-Prime, two very relevant funds. Jump Capital is a thesis-led venture investor specializing in scalable software opportunities in fintech, crypto, IT, and data infrastructure. F-Prime invests in healthcare and technology companies that impact lives worldwide. The two funds joined the fundraise by Illuminate Financial, Fenbushi Capital, CMT Digital, and institutions like Gemini Frontier Fund, BlockFI, Luno, and BitSo. 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.
2. We grew the team from 6 to 19
Notabene started the year off with four founders and two fearless devs, Lluis and Bruno. We ended the year with 19 employees, growing across marketing, sales, product, and engineering. Notabeenies now span three continents and eight countries.
It was vital to hold a company offsite as a fully distributed team. In late November, we officially took our relationships from URL to IRL–connecting over Jamon Iberico, tapas, and informative deep-dive sessions in Girona, Cataluña.
3. We broadened our ecosystem reach to 75+ exchanges
From our first customers coming live with the Travel Rule in 2021, we grew the ecosystem of VASPs interacting with each other to 75+. VASPs include Bitbuy, Bitfinex, Luno, Paxful, and more. Solutions Engineer Michele Marrali and Legal Engineer Catarina Veloso joined to help smooth the onboarding process.
4. We launched 3 testnets with 15+ exchanges
Travel Rule testnets present an excellent opportunity for collaborative learning as cryptocurrency businesses and financial institutions gear up to comply with impending regulations.
In 2021, Notabene set up three collaborative environments where they tested the following real-life Travel Rule testnet scenarios:
- Interactions with firms operating cross-jurisdictionally where thresholds and requirements vary.
- Rejecting transfers when data didn’t match internal records.
- Interacting with companies who are not Notabene customers and may not be live with Travel Rule.
- Requesting missing Travel Rule transfers from counterparties.
- Automatically sending Travel Rule transfers to trusted counterparties.
- Singapore Testnet, between Crypto.com, Luno, Xfers, Onchain Custodian, and Sparrow Tech Pte Ltd.
- Abu Dhabi Testnet, between Matrix, Aarna Capital, DEX, and MidChains, Amber Group, Liquid, and Zipmex, under the observation of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM.)
- Tether, Bitfinex, and OkCoin testnet.
In 2022, we will continue to facilitate further testing, provide integration support, moderate compliance team discussions, and publish ‘blueprint’ compliance flows to the industry. Sign up for the next testnet here.
5. We partnered with best-in-class compliance and data products to bring a more seamless and rigorous Travel Rule compliance
Industry partnerships are crucial to building an end-to-end Travel Rule compliance solution. In 2021, Notabene entered into partnerships with the following solutions:
Regulatory VASP reference data:
6. We've consistently shipped new features to make Travel Rule compliance scalable and frictionless
Our product and dev team have tirelessly shipped updates to build components for a best-in-class end-to-end Travel Rule solution. In 2021, we’ve added the following integrations and features to our offering:
7. We share our favorite content pieces from the year
7.1. Cryptocurrency regulatory recaps
The team spent many hours reading and summarizing regulatory docs, so you don’t have to.
- 5 Key Takeaways: Germany’s Implementation of the FATF Travel Rule
- Germany Enforces Crypto Travel Rule from October 1, 2021
- Top 10 Takeaways from the European Commission’s Crypto Travel Rule Proposal
- 5 Key Takeaways from HM Treasury’s Crypto Travel Rule Amendments
- 12 Outcomes from FATF’s Oct 2021 Updated Guidance for Virtual Assets and VASPs
7.2. Jurisdiction pages
We curate knowledge about Travel Rule regulations across the globe on our Jurisdiction Pages.
- The United Kingdom 🇬🇧
- South Korea 🇰🇷
- Liechtenstein 🇱🇮
- Canada 🇨🇦
- Singapore 🇸🇬
- Japan 🇯🇵
- Australia 🇦🇺
- Gibraltar 🇬🇮
7.3. Webinars and Podcasts
Throughout the year, Notabene thought leaders shared knowledge through the following webinars and podcasts.
- Navigating crypto regulations in Singapore in 2021
- Navigating crypto regulations in the UK and EU in 2021
- Cracking Down on Evolving Crypto Regulations (Podcast)
- New FATF Guidelines for Crypto Industry
- FATF’s Final Guidance for Virtual Assets and VASPs. What now?
- Crypto Compliance Deep Dive: A talk with former regulator Charles V. Senatore
- ACAMS: The FATF Travel Rule: Challenges and Solutions
8. We released the first VASP survey on Travel Rule to bring actionable insights to the industry
We began an initiative to collect relevant data on the industry's implementation of Travel Rule requirements and across jurisdictions. We will share our results and pertinent insights of a quarterly report in Q1 2022. Until then, feel free to take a look at the preliminary data.
Our goal is to o help crypto companies reduce compliance complexity on their path to cement crypto’s role in mainstream transactions. If you’d like to join us on this quest, check out our Careers page. We have open roles across various departments.
Thank you for joining us on this journey. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2022!
The Notabene team.