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  • Writer's pictureAnna Stylianou

Web 3: What Compliance Professionals need to know




Web 3 has gained significant traction in recent years, attracting users and businesses alike. Its decentralized nature, where power is distributed among users rather than centralized entities, offers a promise of greater transparency and user autonomy.

 

What is Web3 in simple terms?

 

Imagine the internet as a massive house with many rooms. Today, a few powerful companies own and control most of the rooms. In Web3, this house would be transformed into a vast, open-plan apartment building. Instead of a few companies owning everything, users would own and manage the individual rooms, with shared spaces like hallways and lobbies.

 

This shift from centralized to decentralized control is at the heart of Web3. It aims to give users more control over their data, privacy, and online experiences. This is achieved through the use of blockchain technology, which creates a secure and transparent way to store and manage information.

 

How to Access Web3

 

Accessing Web3 involves using a web browser or app that supports blockchain technology. Some popular options include MetaMask, Brave Browser, and Coinbase Wallet. These tools allow you to interact with decentralized applications (dApps), which are websites and services built on blockchain networks.

 

How Web3 has opened new doors to criminals

 

Web3 offers many benefits. However, the decentralized nature of the system means there are no central authorities to monitor or enforce security measures and can make it easier for criminals to exploit vulnerabilities and steal data or funds.

 

Here are some specific examples of how Web3 has opened doors for criminals during the last few years:

 

  • Scams: Decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms, which allow users to borrow, lend, and trade cryptocurrencies without intermediaries, have been targeted by scammers who offer fake investments or rug pulls (sudden project closures).

  •  Phishing: Criminals create fake websites and apps that look like legitimate Web3 services in order to trick users into revealing their private keys, which give them access to their funds.

  • Malware: Hackers can distribute malware that targets Web3 wallets and steals cryptocurrency.

  • Ponzi Schemes: Fraudsters create fake investment schemes that promise high returns in order to attract investors and steal their money.

  • Pump-and-Dump schemes: Fraudsters artificially inflate the price of an asset, i.e. cryptocurrency to lure unsuspecting investors and then they sell their large holdings at the inflated price, leaving investors with worthless assets.


Mitigating the risks associated with Web3

 

As the decentralized Web3 ecosystem becomes more popular, compliance professionals must adapt their approach to address the unique challenges and opportunities presented by Web3.

 

Here are some ways compliance professionals can use to mitigate the risks associated with Web3:

 

  1. Understand the unique characteristics of Web3: Get a deep understanding on the use of the blockchain technology, its applications and the risks associated with the decentralized nature of various services.

  2. Identify and mitigate risks associated with Web3: Understand how the Web3 ecosystem affects your business and the associated risks. Document your risks and take mitigating measures to effectively manage those risks.

  3. Stay updated on regulatory developments: Stay informed about emerging regulatory requirements and adapt your compliance programs accordingly. Collaborate with legal and regulatory experts.

  4. Implement appropriate due diligence and customer onboarding: Identify and verify the identity of counterparties, understand the nature of transactions and ensure that, during onboarding, you are able to identify potential risks associated with Web3 transactions.

  5. Leverage technology and data analytics: Compliance professionals can utilize data analytics tools to monitor transactions, identify anomalies, and flag potential suspicious activity. This data-driven approach can help them make informed decisions about risk management and prevention.

  6. Stay ahead of evolving threats: The landscape of financial crime is constantly evolving, and compliance professionals need to stay ahead of the curve. This may involve monitoring industry trends, conducting regular risk assessments, and adapting their strategies to address emerging threats.

 

The rise of Web3 presents both opportunities and challenges for compliance professionals. On the one hand, it offers a new frontier for innovation and financial empowerment. On the other hand, its decentralized nature and anonymity can open new doors to criminals.

 

As the decentralized world of Web3 gains popularity, compliance professionals must adjust their methods to effectively tackle the unique obstacles and chances presented by this emerging model.


By understanding and take appropriate measures to mitigate the risks connected with Web3, compliance professionals can play a vital role in ensuring its responsible and ethical development.

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