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Building Trust

By: David Zacks, Chief Compliance Officer, bitFlyer

David Zacks, Chief Compliance Officer, bitFlyer

Trust is the foundation of any successful business. Without trust, businesses cannot build loyalty. Even more, the trust holds greater importance for businesses such as online marketplaces or cryptocurrency exchanges. For instance, by developing trust, Airbnb was able to bring the crazy idea of staying in a stranger’s house into the mainstream way of how many of us travel today. Cryptocurrency exchanges like bitFlyer, Coinbase, and Gemini have provided a secure and trusted site where users can purchase and trade decentralized coins.

Building trust with customers requires your business to apply an enterprise approach. This procedure cannot be siloed to one department or be the responsibility of one leader. Building trust requires a systematic effort from your front line workers to your Board of Directors. The most important components of building trust is putting customers first, ensuring security for your platform and customers, taking your regulatory obligations seriously, and being authentic.

Customer First

A key component of building trust is putting your customer first. At the most basic level, consider how your onboarding experience is designed. Customers expect and deserve a seamless, onboarding experience. How closely does your management team evaluate and optimize your Net Promoter Score or “NPS”? An organization’s NPS score is a strong indication of the experience you are providing to your customers. Ultimately, your organization’s character, culture, and trust is best measured when something goes wrong. When your processes break down, how do you take responsibility and correct the situation?

"A key component of building trust is putting your customer first"

Security

Security is a fundamental pillar of building trust with your customers. A company that compromises its customer’s personal data or puts their assets at risk due to lax security and underdeveloped safeguards is bound to lose their customer’s trust. And rebuilding trust is no easy task. It’s a long and costly process for any business. In January of 2020, EasyJet lost the personal information and travel records of 9 million people. Rather than taking responsibility and working to rebuild trust with its customers, EasyJet failed to notify its customers for several months, putting their customers at additional unnecessary risk. A recent example within our own industry is the successful hack of KuCoin. Their shortcomings in meeting their security responsibilities allowed hundreds of millions of dollars of their customer’s funds to be stolen. Both of these cases resulted in reputational repercussions for the businesses and stand to affect how they will be viewed by current and potential customers.

Regulatory Responsibilities

Consumers do not trust businesses that fail to meet their regulatory obligations. After bitMex and its executives were charged with disregarding their licensing and anti-money laundering obligations, customers withdrew over $500 million in roughly one week. bitMex’s ongoing legal troubles will likely cause it to have to rebrand or be purchased by another exchange, a fate similar to CoinCheck. If businesses do not take their regulatory obligations seriously, then, customers will question how seriously they will take their other obligations, such as protecting the customers’ funds. Adhering to applicable compliance regulations is complex; however, if a company ever falls short of these regulations, it must take responsibility. This includes admitting fault, fixing the issue, and preventing it from occurring again. Companies also have a responsibility from engaging in questionable practices like regulatory arbitrage, where they set up a corporation in another jurisdiction to avoid their legal and ethical obligations.

Authenticity

Consumers trust businesses that are authentic and consistent. Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear provider, is best known as an authentic business that has always put its customers and mission first. Patagonia has stayed true to its mission of protecting the environment. This is evidenced in their history of speaking forcefully on this issue, donating 1% of its sales to environmental groups, and even going to court to protect our public lands. For this, Patagonia has developed a world-wide reputation as a corporation that stands by its commitments. Another example of a company cultivating its authentic image is Visa credit card. Visa offers numerous programs supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs. For Example, the Visa Everywhere Initiative Challenge helps small businesses and entrepreneurs all over the world with funding and expertise. It also serves to demonstrate Visa’s commitment to their small business clients and entrepreneurial customers. As demonstrated by Patagonia and Visa, every business can be authentic in its own way. The consistent theme is that their values never waiver.

Putting your customer first, ensuring security, meeting your regulatory responsibilities, and being authentic does not happen overnight. This requires a collective effort from your company. Businesses that have implemented this strategy are respected, maintain loyal customers, and avoid negative media. The work may seem daunting but well worth it, as a result, you gain a loyal customer.

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