How We Build a Customer-First, Safety-Obsessed Support Team at Netcoins
For most people, hearing cryptocurrency brings up words like “scammers, hackers, corruption, illegal” to the forefront of their minds. It’s not surprising that crypto is plagued with a bad reputation. We just need to look back a few years to understand the deeply ingrained distrust that a lot of Canadians have towards crypto.
At Netcoins we understand that sentiment. We know of people, and heard of countless others, who have lost their investments and been burned by the industry. That’s why we’re on a mission to make the crypto industry a safer place for Canadians and make Netcoins the trusted crypto trading platform.
Allow us to show you how we’re doing that but first, an unfortunate trip down memory lane on how crypto got its bad reputation (well, partly)…
The QuadrigaCX Mess: Where Are The $250 Million Dollars?
With over 300,000 users and hundreds of millions of dollars transacted inside the platform, QuadrigaCX was once believed to be Canada’s biggest (and best) crypto exchange. That was until all of a sudden their customers could not pull out funds from their accounts.
On December 9, 2018, the Founder & CEO of QuadrigaCX, Gerald Cotten, suspiciously died in India. I say suspiciously because many people in the crypto community believe he faked his own death in order to run away with his customers’ funds (source).
As fate would have it, Cotten was the only person in the world who possessed the private keys (or the secret code) to the company’s crypto assets. This meant he was the only person who could unlock the customers’ funds. So when he died the code died too causing people to lose millions of dollars.
There are two big take-aways from this story:
- Customers should always be in full possession of their own crypto
- Crypto exchanges must be held accountable
So with this backdrop in mind, here’s what we’re doing at Netcoins to protect our users while at the same time building a safer crypto environment for them.
Netcoins Volunteers to be Regulated
In October 2020, we announced our application for registration from the BC Securities Commission (BCSC) and the Canadian Securities Administrators’ (CSA) sandbox. Since then we’ve been working very closely with the regulators to help them understand the workings of our industry.
We’ve put in a ton of time, money and energy into trying to become regulated, essentially inviting government oversight into our company. We’re willing to do this because we believe regulation is a way to overcome consumer distrust in the crypto industry.
“A lack of oversight has created instability in the industry, and we believe this instability is slowing consumer adoption of cryptocurrency. Hence, we at Netcoins see the need for a regulated crypto asset trading platform in Canada that investors and traders can trust. Being owned by a public, audited and transparent company has given Netcoins the unique ability to bring a safe crypto trading solution to life across Canada.” – Mitchell Demeter, President of Netcoins (source)
Keep in mind that all this is taking place in addition to building out product features, our technology stack, growing each of our teams, delighting our customers, and educating Canadians on cryptocurrencies. It has not been the easiest journey but it’s definitely been worth it – and our teams have been up to the challenge!
A Multi Key Security Process
Our customer funds are held in cold storage, which is a way of storing crypto assets offline to prevent hackers from accessing them. These are held and insured with Bitgo, a leader in institutional digital asset custody. Accessing these funds requires a specific number and combination of video calls from our top executives. In this way, the code is never in the hands of one person who could potentially steal the funds or pass away (taking the customers’ crypto assets along with them).
An Open Loop System
Our users are able to store their crypto on Netcoins if they wish and withdraw them to an external wallet of their own at any point. At Netcoins, we strongly recommend our users take possession of the crypto they’ve bought through us by transferring them to a crypto wallet that they are in direct possession of.
We’re big supporters of the Celebration of Proof of Keys (January 3rd). It’s a day where customers pull out their funds from exchanges to make sure their assets have not been locked, frozen, hacked or stolen.
Protecting Customers Against Fraud
We’ve seen a huge increase in sign ups, verified accounts and payment volumes in the last few months alone (see here). We knew this was coming so we focused our hiring efforts on building an excellent customer support team.
Our customer support team works weekdays, nights and weekends to provide support to our customers. They work hard to adapt to our continually evolving measures to combat fraud.
For example, one of our team members flagged several discrepancies on a particular account, conducted outbound calls to the customer and quickly escalated the results to our compliance team. As a result of her efforts:
- We discovered a potential case of identity theft
- $48,000 CAD of fraudulent funds were frozen
- $48,000 CAD were reimbursed to the victim, and the bank
- There was an immediate response to a production order from law enforcement
Unfortunately, the victim was a senior who was considered to be part of a vulnerable cohort. We don’t know how the victim was induced to provide their information to the perpetrator. What we do know is that we were able to act fast, cooperate with local law enforcement, and return the $48,000 to the victim.
This success (among many others) isn’t thanks to luck, it’s the result of in-depth training, planning, practice, repetition, and hard work from our customer support team.
We understand that when you invest with us, you’re using your hard earned dollars. We take the responsibility of protecting our customers and their funds very seriously.
Looking Out For Our Customers
Some people will find that they need to provide a considerable amount of information when signing up to Netcoins. This is a part of a process called Know Your Customer (KYC), which is imposed on us by Canadian law given we’re a Money Services Business, regulated by FINTRAC.
The KYC process typically includes ID card verification, and proof of address verification (utility bills, bank statement). It’s an important process because it allows us to verify that you are actually who you say you are.
We also aim to go the extra mile to safeguard our more vulnerable cohorts. We’ve helped prevent users from transferring their funds to third-party scam sites where their “amazing profits” would be “unlocked”, as soon as these sites were transferred additional funds.
While our process may seem rigorous at times, it’s our vigilance that has helped us prevent and identify scammers, money laundering, and other illegal activities like in the cases mentioned above. This is in part thanks to our thorough KYC process and fraud mitigation systems.
We do our best to protect our users by putting all the right bells and whistles (ex: warning signs) within our emails, website and platform. However, much of it also falls on the user to get educated, do their own research on staying safe, and remain cautious themselves. If there’s ever doubt or concern, we recommend you triple check with our customer support team for peace of mind.
Leveraging Blockchain Forensic Tools
Netcoins manages risk and streamlines compliance by integrating BitRank – a scoring system that helps assess the risk of crypto wallets and transactions directly within the platform. Our compliance team also uses QLUE, a platform that visually tracks, traces and monitors illicit cryptocurrency activities.
QLUE and Bitrank belong to a compliance suite of tools built by our sister-company, Blockchain Intelligence Group. Together we’re working to build a safer, compliance-first crypto industry.
Netcoins, along with Blockchain Intelligence Group, are owned by BIGG Digital Assets. BIGG is a publicly traded company trading under the following symbols: CSE: BIGG, OTCQX: BBKCF, and WKN: A2PS9W.
A Final Word…
We’re taking many security measures to protect our customers, from applying for regulation with the BCSC and the CSA, to in-depth training of our customer support team, to implementing a thorough KYC process and operating on top of a compliance suite of tools.
Sometimes these measures can seem daunting and scary but they’re an integral part towards protecting our customers and their financial wealth. It’s also an important part in restoring the reputation of the industry we care so much about.
On behalf of all the Netcoins team, we’re honoured that you trust us with your money and safety.
Written by: Ayelen Osorio
Writer, content marketing at Netcoins.