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The current situation with the WEX exchange (formerly BTC) remains unclear. We asked for a comment on the situation. Vasily Sumanova, analyst of the cryptocurrency market and the author of the article «MtGox 2.0: what is happening with the oldest Russian bitcoin exchange WEX».
— First of all, why is the WEX exchange with its antediluvian interface still popular at all??
— The level of development of services offered to users for exchanging digital assets for fiat money is still at an early stage. The emergence of really large and iconic exchanges with large trading volumes and good liquidity had practically no effect on «pain» the average user, which is associated with a convenient exchange of cryptocurrencies for fiat funds. This is due to the fact that most large exchanges either do not have trading with fiat at all (trades go to USDT), or the deposit / withdrawal of fiat is carried out by bank transfer, which is quite difficult for work (and in some cases it is extremely difficult due to the compliance of banks, most of which crypto exchanges are considered as «Red flag» for money transfers). It is this issue that has led to the formation of local exchange markets, for example, a number of crypto-exchanges targeted at clients from Russia and the CIS. These exchanges have a Russian version of the interface, technical support in Russian and, most importantly, methods of depositing / withdrawing funds, convenient and understandable for the average user..
— What is it anyway «Russian market» exchanges? Where do regional players come from in one of the most primordial global markets??
— The Russian market is represented by four exchanges, of which two are leaders (in terms of trading volume and popularity) — EXMO and WEX (BTC-e), as well as smaller yobit and btc-alpha. It is no secret that many Russian workers in the cryptoindustry often receive payment in BTC / ETH, so methods of quick withdrawal of funds, coupled with the reliability of the exchange, are the key to choosing a client. That is why they first introduced BTC, and then other exchanges picked up «fintech innovation» — virtual exchange codes that allow you to buy or sell the internal balance of the exchange to any outside person / service, which led to the emergence of a whole market for the exchange of such codes for electronic payment systems and intrabank transfers. This was in addition to those input-output methods that were provided directly by the exchange. It is important to note that the codes have greatly simplified the procedure for buying and selling cryptoassets, becoming «hit» among individuals and cryptocurrency exchangers.
However, a few days ago with «mastodon» and the legend of the market — WEX (it was on BTC that they started trading in 2011–2012, those who came to the world of cryptocurrencies) strange events began to occur. Starting from July 4, the exchange rate on the exchange shows significant differences from the rest of the market, showing a difference of 20% at the time of this writing. The management of the exchange set huge commissions on the withdrawal of fiat funds (in USD — 15%), while exchangers quote the dollar from WEX codes 20% cheaper, which generally equalizes the ruble value of bitcoin.
— And what is the reason for such a skew in rates?
— Why is this happening and what is the reason? It’s not clear yet. However, something happened that led to a misalignment of the dollar rate within the exchange (and to the entire outside world) by 20%. I would not like to make unfounded statements, so I will limit myself to the assumption: the exchange has problems with fiat balances, perhaps this is a consequence of hacking / blocking accounts or some other reason that led to a shortage of funds. There is no difference of 20% in exchange rates out of nowhere; actually in the internal economic kitchen of WEX’a dollar fell by 20% against all currencies — BTC / ETH (and others), ruble and USDT. A similar situation happened on Mt.Gox at the end of 2013 — early 2014, just before the crash. I also personally managed to catch this situation, the course on Mt.Gox was really different (at peak moments by $ 200–300, which was just ~ 20%). So far, there seem to be no complaints about the fact that with WEX’but it is absolutely impossible to output something, but we can say unequivocally — the situation is incomprehensible, and until they figure it out, my personal decision comes down to not trading there.
— Why did you notice it and what to do for cryptocurrency users?
— To be honest, I noticed a difference in rates on WEX, since I have been a client of the exchange since 2013 and have carried out operations there for the sale of cryptoassets for fiat with further withdrawal through codes. A few days ago, I was planning to sell some bitcoins and, having logged into WEX, I discovered the difference in rates, as I wrote about a post on Facebook. After that, I thought: what else is left for the Russian user? I did not want to go to localbitcoins, since personally it seems to me a long and inconvenient way to withdraw funds, so I turned my attention to the three remaining exchanges — EXMO, Yobit, Btc-alpha. I categorically do not consider Yobit, since, in my opinion, this is an exchange with a very short-sighted listing policy, there is no quick withdrawal through codes, plus there are a number of other nuances that I would not want to discuss publicly. Btc-alpha turned out to be of little use due to the low liquidity of trading and the lack of liquidity of the codes (they are there, but there are no exchangers ready to accept them, and this is the key!).
As a result, I sold my bitcoins on EXMO, having found a similar code service there, as well as a good interface that I had already forgotten (after trading on WEX and entering other Russian exchanges) and, in general, a modern level of the product. Exchangers accept codes well, it’s a pity so far only EXMO USD, for many it would probably be convenient to withdraw in rubles through EXMO RUR. Now I transferred all operations to this exchange.
— How much EXMO paid you for a PR campaign?
— You ask provocative questions, but the answer is not very interesting, to be honest, not at all. I really do not like it when someone’s opinion can be influenced by the amount of money. In my case, I did not have any more options for withdrawing my funds, since I simply did not find exchanges with liquid exchange codes (and other ways to withdraw fiat to EPS or cards). After your question, I had concerns that now the Russian crypto-exchange market may simply be monopolized. There is no other decent exchange in the Russian-speaking space, but with the specified functionality for input / output — especially. It’s time to set up a crypto-anti-monopoly service and give development grants to other players so that clients have a choice. Although at one time BTC-e was also a monopolist, and no one died from this. Although the situation with the closing of the exchange (BTC-e) in 2017 hit some traders, and the like «centralization» users on the same product may be unsafe.
Author: Olga Grinina, journalist in the field of new technologies. She works with startups and projects as a content and PR consultant. Having legal and linguistic experience, she managed to work in international companies in Moscow and Los Angeles.
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