What is a Whitelist?

A whitelist in the context of cryptocurrency refers to a list of approved or eligible participants for a particular investment opportunity or event. For instance, a new cryptocurrency project may only allow individuals on its whitelist to participate in its initial coin offering (ICO) or token sale. The purpose of a whitelist is to ensure that only qualified and approved participants are able to invest, and to prevent malicious actors from participating in the event.

In order to be added to a whitelist, individuals typically need to meet certain criteria, such as being accredited investors, meeting minimum investment requirements, and passing know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) checks. This helps to ensure that the investment opportunity is compliant with regulations, and protects both the project and the investors. Whitelists can also be used in various other aspects of the crypto industry, such as access to trading on a particular exchange or participating in a token airdrop. Overall, the purpose of a whitelist is to provide an added layer of security and control within the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Simplified Example

A simplified comparison to a whitelist could be a guest list for a private party. Only individuals on the guest list are allowed to enter the party, similarly only addresses or participants on the whitelist are allowed access to a particular resource or service in a crypto project or token.

History of the Term "Whitelist"

The term "whitelist" dates back to at least the mid-1400s, with early instances found in Scottish and English legal records. Originally, it denoted a list of individuals exempt from a general rule or prohibition. An illustrative example comes from 1455 when the Scottish Parliament enacted a prohibition on wearing silk, accompanied by a whitelist specifying those permitted to wear silk, including members of the nobility and royal officials.


Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) - Many ICOs use whitelists to regulate and control the investment process. This can help to prevent potential scams or fraudulent activities, as well as to ensure that the ICO complies with regulations such as KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering).

Airdrops - Airdrops, which are a popular method of distributing tokens, often require participants to be on a whitelist. This can help to prevent fraud and ensure that the airdrop is only accessible to eligible and verified individuals.

Crypto Exchanges - Some cryptocurrency exchanges use whitelists to control access to their platform. This can help to ensure that only eligible and verified individuals can use the exchange, and can also provide an added layer of security by preventing potential hacks or other malicious activities.

  • Initial Coin Offering: When a company or organization offers tokens – digital assets created on a blockchain – to investors in exchange for investment capital.

  • AirDrop: A marketing campaign that involves giving away free tokens or coins to a specific group of people or to the general public.