Before the rise of centralized exchanges (CEXs), over-the-counter (OTC) trading was the go-to method to buy or sell cryptocurrency for many crypto investors. The FTX collapse could trigger a bigger demand for crypto OTC services as investors are looking for alternative methods to convert from and to fiat due to weaker trust in CEXs.
Cointelegraph spoke with BestChange, a UAE-based OTC crypto exchanger aggregator with Russian roots, to learn more about the current state of OTC markets.
“The role of OTC is sometimes underestimated amid the all-encompassing marketing of centralized exchanges,” BestChange chief analyst Nikita Zuborev said. According to the exec, OTCs often act as an entry point to crypto for most users.
BestChange users often resort to the services of OTC exchangers — portals that act as fiat onramps to crypto — in order to replenish the balance on a crypto exchange or sell their crypto, Zuborev told Cointelegraph.
“If for the Central European countries and the countries of North America there are quite convenient ways of direct replenishment from a bank card, then for the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia there are no such options, and exchangers remain the only convenient way to work with cryptocurrency,” Zuborev stated.
The exec also pointed out that the latest industry events could have a positive effect on the crypto OTC segment, stating:
“Thanks to the fiasco of the FTX executives, our segment could see a significant influx of users even outside of our traditional market. We expect that 2023 could be the year of decentralization and accelerated development of decentralized apps.”
Founded in 2007, BestChange enables crypto-to-fiat transactions through Visa and Mastercard cards as well as services like PayPal, Payoneer, Skrill and others. Currently operating under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, BestChange plans to move its headquarters to Dubai gradually.
The executive stressed that the relocation has nothing to do with the ongoing geopolitical problems or other issues in Russia, as BestChange has been planning to expand beyond the country for a while.
Additionally, BestChange doesn’t expect any pressure from the global community in terms of sanctions, according to Zuborev. “The UAE continues to remain neutral in geopolitical matters, and secondly, the format of our business does not involve the handling of money,” he said. BestChange-listed OTC crypto exchangers are located in the Baltic countries or central Europe and should comply with local regulations, he noted.
Related: Russia intends to launch a ‘national crypto exchange’
BestChange serves several countries, including post-Soviet states like Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Belarus. According to data from SimilarWeb, users from Russia and Ukraine make the biggest amount of visits on BestChange, with 48% and 15% of traffic coming from these countries, respectively.
“Most centralized exchanges are under pressure from European and North American regulators, and our segment is mostly represented by small local services that obey the laws of the country of location so they can serve Russians, Ukrainians, Europeans, Africans, residents of Asia, Oceania independently of each other,” he stated.
According to Zuborev, global sanctions against Russia have not had a negative impact on BestChange’s OTC market services but even have driven more adoption instead.