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Crypto Exchange Market: Top Issues to Consider

If one wants to trade, he/she mostly relies on crypto exchanges. But we should remember: nothing is flawless in our world. And the exchanges are no exception.  We’ve already been focusing on their problems and trends, rivalry with over-the-counter market and the issues of scalability. Now it’s high time to make a kind of a conclusion to our research. Today we’ll talk about principal issues crypto exchanges face today, the way they influence and are influenced by users and the entire crypto market. Let’s get it started. Trust and security  As of now, market conjuncture doesn’t allow new exchanges to cut through the noise. Firstly, it’s all about the users’ bearish behaviour. Alex Strześniewski, a Business Development Director at CoinDeal (coindeal.com), says the following: “It's difficult to attract users for a new exchange. It's difficult to convince new users to involve because the people who entered the bull market a year ago, they have already got their favourite exchanges which they are not likely to give up using”Alex StrześniewskiBusiness Development Director at CoinDeal   And it’s hard to argue with that. Community has become much more skeptic and experienced than 2-3 years ago. New projects are now perceived with a pinch of salt and, as a rule, cannot break through, thus not creating the healthy competition on the market.  Here’s what we’ve got: new projects die on the vine, ‘whales’ and ‘old boys’ make the exchange market monopolised. As a result, the environment becomes stagnated, with no essential updates and changes. And how the practices of Mt.Gox, Bithumb and Coincheck have shown (those exchanges have suffered severely from hacker attacks), the changes have long been a must. That’s why new exchanges should find unique ways to involve skeptic users. Community should trust you in every aspect of the trading process, and that’s what Jason Wang, CHAOEX CEO, is talking about: “To build trust is never an easy task. We at CHAOEX fully understand that we need to consistently deliver information about us, to let user know everything about our team, platform, know what we are doing. We have our own channel, which help us show that we do not only live in the moment, but also have eventful past and promising future. We try to keep users updated with the problems we face and always take their advice and comments into our consideration. Our community is our friends – and one of our key goals is to make them feel it”Jason WangCHAOEX CEO   According to Max Grain, a Product Management Executive of Bitlish, trust is underpinned by the variety of factors. He adds the following: “Trust is based on operational history, openness, and even pricing policy. We at Bitlish have one of the lowest commissions for Visa/Mastercard operations in the world. Other factors have less impact, but it’s never stop trying to improve the user experience”Max GrainProduct Management Executive of Bitlish   Scalability Another equally important issue of new exchanges is the way it keeps up with the pace of its own development. In simple terms, it’s scalability. Through the prism of the time, the issue of scalability has been pursuing the crypto market since its birth. Naturally, when Bitcoin emerged in 2009, it was not initially designed with the idea of widespread use and adaptation in mind. As the number of daily transactions continued to rise, an increasing number of issues were popping up. The same thing is with crypto exchanges. Ilya Bere, Changelly CEO, shared his experience with us:  “After the hype of 2017, we realized that scalability was one of the critical factors for long-term market survival. In particular, one of our focuses in 2018 was the increasing of the technical scalability of our project. Meanwhile, since our partners are exchanges, we still see some of them facing scalability issues as demand increases. We hope that in the nearest future all players will be ready for a new crypto wave”Ilya BereChangelly CEO   A suitable scaling solution is an optional way out, which could already become useless in several months. A team behind the exchange should follow a well-thought-out strategy and play long-term. Here’s what Andrei Popescu, a Co-Founder of COSS.IO, explains: “Even a small exchange should be ready for large-scale trading. Such trading implies high volumes and scrutiny that even the most popular crypto asset exchanges today may not be prepared to handle.”Andrei PopescuCo-Founder of COSS.IO   Self-regulation  Regulatory measures, both internal and external, play a lead role in exchange’s success. Users want their assets to be fully protected, and that’s what reliable and complex regulation contributes to. A textbook example of how to comply with law is KuCoin. Its Co-Founder and concurrently a Vice-President stated his position on the issue:  “We work with several external AML institutions. They are quite matured in terms of service package setting and implementation. As an exchange, we aim to better serve our users, if there are AML services with higher quality, why shouldn’t we integrate them for users’ sake? Plus, we also have internal team in charge of AML procedures. Backed by the internal-external collaboration, we believe that the efficiency of our work will improve, without sacrificing security and privacy.”Johnny LyuKuCoin VP   Wrapping up  The race “to Become as Trustworthy as Possible” is going on. And that is amazing: the harder competition is, the more approaches and alternatives appear. Users must have choice, because where there’s the choice, there is also a great room for the further development. We are already in history, operating in the fastest-growing environment, with no end in sight. But still, there’s a lot to do and bring here.    *This article is based on the exclusive interviews with top-managers of several crypto exchanges. Cryptonomos is most grateful to Andrei Popescu, Co-Founder of COSS.IO; Johnny Lyu, KuCoin VP; Srdjan Mahmutovich, Kriptomat CEO; Jason Wang, CHAOEX CEO;  Ilya Bere, Changelly CEO; Max Grain, Product Management Executive of Bitlish, and Alex Strześniewski, Business Development Director at CoinDeal.

bearish market / February 1, 2019

Is it difficult to build a successful crypto exchange? Cryptonomos asks exchange executives

There are several hundred crypto exchanges in the world, a lot more than stock and commodity exchanges taken together. And new crypto exchanges open almost every day even on the bear market. Cryptonomos has asked several executives of crypto exchanges about how to develop a profitable business and attract customers. Technology, reputation, fees, customer support and trust are cornerstones of successful business
 The success of the crypto exchange starts from its website, it shows whether the exchange is reliable, or not, says Kriptomat CEO Srdjan Mahmutovich. “We noticed our new clients first put and withdraw some small amount of money, that they are testing us, whether our solution works. Once we pass the test, they could start trusting us,” he says.  Changelly.com has designed a simple interface for a broad audience, says its CEO Ilya Bere: “Even though regular customers and professional traders often use our product, the service is more focused on a mass audience. I'm talking about those who come to the crypto industry as a beginner and independently study all the market aspects aiming to diversify their portfolios”. “To make a successful exchange is not easy at all,” says CHAOEX CEO Jason Wang, “this business is related with people, so the community is the most important to help us growing during this crypto winter. We design new operation activities to build community. Recently one of our users noticed that he never saw so many activities on other platform besides CHAOEX. Even when the market is dump, our users can earn. And we entertain them too.” According to Jason Wang, CHAOEX team should understand at least three aspects: trading system, blockchain knowledge and community.   Technology Technology is of crucial importance, say all executives who participated in our survey. “Technology is crucial to advancing this mission; our technologists collaborate with researchers and managers to design, engineer, and run exchange platforms which enable systemization and scale in everything we do,” says Andrei Popescu, Co-Founder of COSS.IO.  “The basic IT knowledge helps us build high concurrency system, this is the basement of exchange, then we can list all individual (custom) blockchains besides ERC20 tokens, then understanding the trading system to improve user experience”, says CHAOEX CEO Jason Wang. According to him, CHAOEX can upgrade the platform 3 times a week as the whole intellectual property is owned by it co-founders, which is a big advantage, because they can change the platform as users wish.  Customer Support: time-consuming and expensive  One of our biggest problems is customer support, says Alex Strześniewski, Business Development Director at CoinDeal. “Since day 1 we've customer support chat, which is currently available in 6 languages and as we grow there's going to be more. Sometimes one of the founders of Coindeal, is on Telegram, answering questions or me. Our customers really enjoy being able to see someone on another side who cares about the customers and their money,” he adds. Kriptomat offers online support in 20 languages, says its CEO Srdjan Mahmutovich: most people who register at Kriptomat have to pass KYC, and it is important that they should understand the exchange’s employees. “We have very fast and helpful customer service,” says Jason Wang, “we always consider each user's request personally and there were not a single problem that we couldn't solve. We gathered 100K+ new users from Nov to now, that's a strong number that inspires us to move forward." Trust “Building trust is the most important thing and other criteria are also important but they can be managed more easily,” says Max Grain, Product Management Executive at Bitlish, “people value trust, if customers have a positive experience with an exchange then any problem which may arise can be solved." According to Johnny LYU, VP at KuCoin, “trust is a must feature for an exchange to grow bigger”. Trust is based on two pillars – exchange security and its relations with customers. For example, Stellarport chose a decentralized model to protect customers’ funds. “Trust is a big factor. At centralised exchange there can be hacks. Stellarport doesn`t control the funds, so the risk of hacks is minimum,” says its Co-Founder Ishai Strauss. Customers’ trust is the result of the exchange’s operational history, openness, and customer relations, says Max Grain from Bitlish. “To build trust will never be easy,” says CHAOEX CEO Jason Wang, “we try to keep users updated with the problems we have and take their advice and comments. Besides, our customer service talk to our users as they are friends. Users really like it and step by step trust us.” Coindeal chose creative approach to transfuse trust in their customers, tells Alex Strześniewski: “One of the founders had a genius idea. Now we are an official global sponsor of Wolferhampton (football team in English Premier league). No company sponsors a Premier League team, if they want to make a scam exit in 6 months, right? I think that was a brilliant move not only in terms of acquiring new customers, but building trust.” Since more and more newcomers begin to trade at crypto exchanges, we asked Alex Strześniewski (Coindeal) for a list of things one should check before making the first trade. Reputation The best way to find out about an exchange is to search through reviews from individual users and well-known industry websites. Fees Most exchanges should have fee-related information on their websites. Before joining, make sure you understand deposit, transaction and withdrawal fees.  Payment Methods What payment methods are available on the exchange? Credit & debit card? Wire Transfer? PayPal? If an exchange has limited payment options, then it may not be convenient for you to use it.  Verification Requirements Although verification, which can take up to a few days, might seem like a pain, it protects the exchange against all kinds of scams and money laundering. Geographical Restrictions Make sure the exchange you want to join allows full access to all platform tools and functions in the country you currently live in. Exchange Rate Different exchanges have different rates. It’s not uncommon for rates to fluctuate up to 10% and even higher in some instances. 24/7 User support  Effective user support services are a critical element for the development of any online service. Most crypto exchanges do not provide support in real time. In some cases, users even have to wait for a few days for an exchange to reply, sometimes even weeks. This article is based on the exclusive interviews with top-managers of several crypto exchanges. Cryptonomos is most grateful to Andrei Popescu, Co-Founder of COSS.IO; Johnny Lyu, KuCoin VP; Srdjan Mahmutovich, Kriptomat CEO; Jason Wang, CHAOEX CEO; Max Grain, Product Management Executive of Bitlish, changelly.com CEO Ilya Bere, Alex Strześniewski, Business Development Director at CoinDeal, and Stellarport Co-Founder Ishai Strauss for their time and expertize. 

Blockchain / January 29, 2019

KYC & AML: Designed to Resuscitate the Crypto Market

Crypto market stagnated. And let there be no obscuring of that. We are now in a ‘buffer crypto-zone’, waiting for turning points to occur. The entire 2018 was mostly bearish, and today, everyone, including investors and crypto-related business initiators, is expecting the year 2019 to be more crypto-friendly.  New regulations, combined with KYC and AML procedures, are designed to contribute to the flourishing future of the crypto world.  Many critics say that abovementioned ‘duo’, besides being a calling card of company’s credibility, also acts as a ‘double edge sword’ and kills users’ anonymity.  But we have something to say in return: the absence of KYC and AML can kill the entire crypto space. Illustrative statistics of 2017 demonstrates a pretty obvious thing. 2 years ago, when KYC and AML were in their infancy, only 24% of ICOs worldwide had an official legal status. And one more study prepared by Statis Group shows that more than 80% of ICOs conducted in 2017 were identified as scams.  This leads to the conclusion that the appropriate legal support does not protect investors, and does not allow ICO initiators to carry out an ‘exit scam’ scenario.  We must admit that we live in a harsh world, and it’s far from utopian. Users with contrived and malicious intentions have always tortured the crypto world. That’s why regulatory measures must not be neglected. Crypto field has been and, actually, is the great ‘bait’ for fraudsters and criminals, especially when this bait is not essentially regulated.  Let us take, for example, an ICO model, where the money laundering is deplorably flourishing. In simple terms, an ICO takes one’s asset and redeems it for another - a token. These tokens can be freely traded for other crypto or fiat currencies on exchanges worldwide. This system presents a major risk for ICOs. They could easily be used for laundering proceeds of crime.  Many within the industry believe that the future of ICOs may instead lie in security token offerings (STOs). In a nutshell, the STO is an ICO-like investment model. The key advantage of using this route is that token holders are fully protected by the very same financial regulations as used in traditional security-based projects. Self-regulation is needed, but is still hard to be implemented. Max Grain, a Product Management Executive of company Bitlish, explains:  “Scaling brings its own changes and challenges, and a company’s team has to be ready to adapt. Procedures that worked well when you were small may have to give way to a more defined systems and procedures over time as the company grows” Hopefully, not only self-regulations are coming to the crypto market. For instance, in March 2018 the US Department of the Treasury published a letter summarizing its interpretation of the Bank Secrecy Act as it pertains to ICOs. The letter stated that: “Generally, under existing regulations and interpretations, a developer that sells convertible virtual currency, including in the form of ICO coins or tokens, in exchange for another type of value that substitutes for currency is a money transmitter and must comply with AML/CFT requirements” Last year, European Union also introduced crypto anti-money laundering regulation. Here the regulation applies not to ICOs, but to exchange services between virtual and fiat currencies, and custodian wallet providers which don’t comply with the AML directive.  These businesses become “obliged entities” under the new AML/CTF legislation, similar to traditional financial institutions such as banks. They are obligated to implement measures to counter money laundering and terrorist fundraising, such as customer due diligence (including KYC) and transaction monitoring. They are also required to maintain comprehensive records and report suspicious transactions. The only problem which these regulations entail is that they are not standardized. Andrei Popescu, a Co-Founder of COSS.IO, says AML should be harmonised worldwide: “Despite calls for the adoption of global AML standards for crypto assets trading, no such uniform rules have yet emerged. Differences in national regulations include the existence of special licensing requirements for Crypto Exchanges, the extent to which AML rules also cover administrators and wallet services, the extent to which ICOs are covered by securities laws or equivalent regulations with AML regulatory implications, and the extent to which a crypto-to-crypto exchange is treated differently from crypto-to-fiat exchange. In many cases, the regulatory status of these activities is either ambiguous or case-specific, or is otherwise subject to pending changes in law and regulation” The other side of the crypto-coin is trust. Market needs some time until community will get accustomed to every new regulation and legal improvement. Srdjan Mahmutovich, Kriptomat CEO, states on the issue:  “Crypto space is so fresh and new that no one knows where it all finishes, as we are at the beginning stage. One thing is clear - we do need to put in place more regulation; otherwise we won’t be able to attract all the masses of users to come here. People trust banks. Generally speaking, they do because they use their services on a daily basis. Time will show how much regulation should be put in place in order to secure the user and prevent abuse. Some people, if there`s no KYC, are actually worried, asking whether their assets secured. And that’s what KYC and AML will solve” Evolution is a long-term process, and the crypto market is no exception. We are standing on the verge of a new era – ‘Era of Regulation’ – a crucial period for the crypto world. Backed by harmonized regulation, cryptocurrency will be a great instrument for those who are keeping the interest of the society in mind as a top priority. AML and KYC will help keep it, and what’s more – will help meet it in a fully secure and trustworthy manner.  * This article is based on the exclusive interviews with top-managers of several crypto exchanges. Cryptonomos is most grateful to Andrei Popescu, Co-Founder of COSS.IO, Srdjan Mahmutovich, Kriptomat CEO, and Max Grain, a Product Management Executive of Bitlish.

AML / January 24, 2019