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Founded 2014
Headquarters Zug, Switzerland; Denver, Colorado
Key People Erik Vorhees, Founder and CEO
Twitter @ShapeShift_io
LinkedIn Profile

ShapeShift is a non-custodial cryptocurrency exchange active in the United States, allowing it to foster an unusually high level of anonymity for its customers by not requiring them to open accounts ahead of transacting on its platform. (Most cryptocurrency exchanges demand to hold their customers' cryptocurrencies as well as their fiat currencies on deposit rendering them "custodial" exchanges.)

ShapeShift received modest early venture capital support from crypto enthusiasts Barry Silbert and Roger Ver. In June 2015 ShapeShift cut off service to New York State residents in response to that state's new regulatory policies requiring personal identification of everyone transacting with cryptocurrency in the state when New York adopted the BitLicense.[1] Later investors in ShapeShift include California-based Pantera Capital and FundersClub and Colorado's Access Venture Partners.[2]

In a vote of confidence for ShapeShift's low-overhead customer approach, Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne told Fortune magazine in August 2017 that Overstock was using ShapeShift to accept bitcoin and 40 other cryptocurrency payments from customers.[3]

Erik Vorhees, Founder and CEO of ShapeShift, long refused to adhere to standard practices for antimoney laundering and customer identification that are commonly followed by U.S. financial entities including cryptocurrency exchanges. Vorhees has noted that businesses like ShapeShift are not clearly subject to those regulations. ShapeShift processed millions of U.S. dollars worth of bitcoin into untraceable Monero that had been stolen by hackers, believed to be from North Korea, who executed the so-called WannaCry attacks on businesses and governments in 2017 and 2018. In a September 28 Article, Wall Street Journal reporters Justin Scheck and Shane Shifflett identified ShapeShift as the largest processor of fraudulently obtained bitcoin among all cryptocurrency exchanges active in the U.S. at the time.[4]

Earlier in September 2018, ShapeShift already had announced that it would implement customer identification procedures. Vorhees told CoinDesk at the time, CoinDesk that “KYC was not added as a result of any enforcement action, but rather as a proactive step we took to de-risk the company amid uncertain and changing global regulations.”[5]

Several months later, in February 2019, Vorhees told ETHDenver, an Ethereum-focused developer conference, that ShapeShift was going to begin testing a new platform that integrates several ShapeShift services, including its wallet, KeepKey, and pricing service, CoinCap. Vorhees maintains that ShapeShift had not altered its non-custodial stance vis-a-vis customers and their cryptocureency holdings.[6]