Alexey Maximenko is a Russian native entrepreneur, former IT-specialist and system administrator, who co-founded the first and only digital currency exchanger incorporated in Belize, 247exchange. In his interview with Cointelegraph, Maximenko shares his ambitions for his business, and discusses the future of digital currencies in Belize.
Cointelegraph: 247exchange is currently the only digital currency exchanger in Belize and the community hasn’t heard much about your service. Could you give us a little background historic, and tells us how the idea of a digital currency exchange platform came up?
Alexey Maximenko: One of our founders had a digital currency exchange business (but not a Bitcoin one) in Russia in the past. So, we’re not novices in this industry. After some time the idea of making a global service appeared. We had analyzed the current situation on the market and saw that the future was up to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and noticed the space we could fill in. We noticed that on the market, there was a lack of easy-to-understand services and, also, that some useful features were missing.
It’s also a matter of trust - there are a lot of anonymous exchangers, some even hide their basic details like address and don’t have any registration. How can they be reliable?
We’re a registered financial company. All our founders have financial or IT background. We decided to gather our efforts to create a new level of cryptocurrency exchange. We realized that Bitcoin was definitely our thing.
Bitcoin users who travel much, have relatives abroad and so on, need to turn from one exchange service to another and this is inconvenient. Our team members experienced that by themselves. That’s how the idea of worldwide service came up.
CT: There have been few, if any statements and researches on the digital currency industry in Belize. Could you tell us more about Bitcoin in Belize? How did you end up choosing Belize to incorporate your business?
AM: Belize isn’t the first country that we considered for the incorporation. We finally chose this country, because it has a favorable financial climate. We contacted the local financial regulators (IFSC), and they approved us. Our service is regulated in the same way as a fiat exchanger.
There are some Bitcoin accepting businesses in Belize and, of course, some Bitcoin users. However, Belize is a rather small country and the cryptocurrency community is still forming there. But it’s growing - that’s a fact.
CT: Would you say there is future for digital currencies in Belize? Would you recommend Bitcoin startups to settle there?
A.M.: I believe – yes. Belize is an attractive place for investments, for opening international businesses. The local government is oriented to attract foreign capital. We do recommend Belize for a Bitcoin startup. However, if we speak about financial services, the owners should take into consideration the fact that getting a financial license isn’t a fast process. Some people may suppose that getting such license in Belize is a simple thing, but we should say that the procedure is very similar to the one in European countries. It’s necessary to confirm your competence.
CT: As 247exchange is the only cryptocurrency exchanger in Belize, would you say there are any advantages in your current monopoly?
AM: Being the only digital currency exchanger in Belize, we however, currently don't serve the local customers because of some regulatory issues. We’re oriented to the international market and our team is also international. We plan to open branches in different regions.
CT: So your clientele is mostly constituted of foreigners?
AM: Foreigners, since we don’t work on the Belize market at the moment. Mostly these are European users, because we started by adding the payment methods that are used in Europe. We launched this summer and for some time have worked in the public test mode. Only after all had been testing well, we begun to expand, so, the time for any conclusions has not come yet. We’re sure that after we add some more local payment options, the geography will become much wider. We’re expecting much from the growing markets such as Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
CT: As reported in one of our previous article on 247exchange, you are planning on building a global system. What is the idea behind this? What are your ambitions for 247exchange?
AM: Bitcoin exchange services are mostly focused on exact countries and locations. However, Bitcoin is a worldwide platform that erases all physical borders between countries and we’re building the global service, which matches the Bitcoin’s nature as much as possible.
So, we want our service to be universal and comfortable for users in different parts of the world. That’s why we integrate more and more payment and withdrawal methods - step by step.
We wish to make a process of buying bitcoins really simple and to increase the availability of Bitcoin. You know, at some others exchange services, the users need to make trade orders and stuff like that – sometimes it’s too complicated, especially for newbies. Moreover, many services of this type, even the biggest ones with huge turnovers like Mt. Gox, had been hacked and closed. In the end, the people suffered much losing their money.
Such situations are completely excluded on our website. We’re not a trading platform; we’re a fixed-rate exchanger. We don’t hold customers’ money: right after we receive funds from the client, we’ll send him/her cryptocurrencies (the same - for the selling process: as soon as we get cryptocurrencies from a client, we’ll send him/her fiat). The user doesn’t need to create any payment accounts with our service and doesn’t need to worry about the safety of his/her funds.
So, we’re making the exchanger that is extremely easy to understand and use - the exchanger for the casual users. In doing so, we hope that Bitcoin will become even more usable.
CT: 247exchange focuses in local payment systems and instant payments systems. In only a few months, you managed to offer bank wire transfers, SEPA, and most recently added Sofort Banking among your funding methods. What's coming next?
AM: We’ve just finished integrating the cash deposit and local bank transfer options in Australia, so, all Australian citizens can now buy bitcoins fast and easy. Later in October, we’ll offer our customers the opportunity to instantly buy bitcoins with credit and debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, American Express and others will be supported).
The option will be available for people all over the world except few countries where it’s necessary to have the special licenses (like USA and Canada) and the ones that don’t match our AML program. We will accept payments in different currencies (USD, EURO, GBP).
One of the key features of our website will be support of various altcoins. The most established of them - Litecoin, Peercoin and Namecoin – are being testing at our service now and will be offered this month. Then we plan to add some fresh, but at the same time popular ones, including DogeCoin and “Bitcoin 2.0” systems. Covering Latin America as a big and promising region is also one of our near-term plans.
In 2015-2016 we plan to enter the North American market – it’s necessary to get the licenses there first, so, we’re closely cooperating with respectable law firms at this matter.
That is how we follow our mission - to create and provide the new standard of digital currency exchange service all over the world - fast, convenient, secure and available for everyone.