Promoting Reliable Decentralized Finance: An Interview with 2 Experts


The first major step in this direction has been undertaken in the USA, the Treasury Department is determined to enforce the oversight framework this fall. China became the first country ever to actually implement the idea of stablecoins on practice, while dubbing all other crypto activity as ‘illegal” The promise of decentralized technology is not going to fade out, says BlockBen’s Attila Krocsek and Zoltan Veszer. They discuss the legal status of cryptocurrency in a given country based on the overall adoption of the technology.

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Ever since Bitcoin first came into play in 2008, the cryptocurrency space has never been deprived of concerns. From high volatility to the bothering levels of fraud and speculation associated with decentralized assets, regulators have also confronted the trouble of labeling cryptocurrency within the state’s law, due to the vague nature of the non-controlled asset that can as well be leveraged as a payment instrument.

However, despite a few regulatory bumps on the road, the current industry incessantly moves in the direction of Crypto 4.0, within the framework of which cryptocurrency transposes to the big scale of massive adoption, instead of the previous niche application.

The first major step in this direction has been undertaken in the USA: there, the Treasury Department is determined to enforce the oversight framework this fall. Meanwhile, China became the first country ever to actually implement the idea of stablecoins on practice, while dubbing all other crypto activity as “illegal”.

Whatever the current status of crypto is in a given law system, one thing is obvious – the promise of decentralized technology is not going to fade out.

Establishing ground rules of the game is essential for cryptocurrency progressing to the next development stage; to gain a deeper perspective on this situation, I embarked on a quest for expert-level insights from Attila Krocsek and Zoltan Veszer, the head of business development at BlockBen and the head of eBSO product, respectively.

Table of Contents

1. Coinbase was the first crypto exchange in history to conduct an IPO and get listed on major stock exchanges. What does this step mean for the crypto community?

Zoltan Veszer:

It might not affect everyday life, not even for adopters of the technology, but it was a significant and imminent step within the Crypto ecosystem. We have already seen major acquisitions completed by large businesses, but an actual IPO further solidifies the technology. It is a significant step toward the recognition of crypto assets by governments and traditional financial institutions.

These institutions have an inherent pushback against disruptive innovation. It does not help that media sensationalism focuses on extremes, such as money laundering and scams. In reality, tens of millions of people use the technology securely for financial and other purposes.

Having an exchange like Coinbase listed makes the overall technology more recognized and counters arguments that decry the existence of cryptocurrencies in general.

2. From your perspective, what are the factors defining the legal status of cryptocurrency in a given country?

ZV:

It is a mixture of two factors: the overall adoption amongst the citizens and the legal frameworks in place. The relevant institutions have the final word in the matter, but people can drive decisions. Right now, we can divide countries into four categories, based on their stance toward crypto:

  • Countries friendly to Crypto
  • Neutral countries with existing laws and regulations
  • Neutral countries without clear rules and guidelines
  • Countries banning Crypto

There are different trends moving in between the distinct categories among countries.  One of the reasons for this is the exponential growth of cryptocurrencies. Time moves way faster within the blockchain. Compared to the traditional financial sector’s decades of slow progress, the blockchain ecosystem has mirrored most of this in a matter of years. Now it creates solutions that extend the scope of the technology, such as DeFi, or NFT.

Governments react on their own accord, but their stance can rapidly change. Just look at China, Dubai, El Salvador, Korea, or Lithuania, where we see examples of different approaches.

3. Stablecoins produced an uproar among regulators and governments – not least because it is the first reliable link between the crypto- and the real-world economy. Would they be given privilege among other types of decentralized assets – like crypto and NFTs?

ZV:

Stablecoins are unique assets that wrought havoc on the crypto market between 2017 and 2018. New FIAT or gold pegged stablecoins came out every other day. They have filled a real market need for a stable assets in a volatile environment. Does it mean they should have additional privileges?

I see stablecoins as a central, functional part of the ecosystem without any privileges compared to others. On a regulatory basis, they will face scrutiny because their underlying logic or assets are not transparent enough. When developers of such coins leave room for fraudulent activities, it is commendable if a government takes a harsh approach against them. Lack of transparency can lead to market anomalies that could damage millions of people.

4. From your perspective, does crypto store a long-term potential of creating its own decentralized economy? What are the regulatory requirements that have to be complied with?

ZV:

I think this is a contradiction. Regulatory requirements and decentralization within the financial industry are two separate ends of the spectrum. The original goal of blockchain was to administer transactions without the participation of a third party, to offer an alternative to our heavily centralized way of dealing with finances, whether it is a central bank, a card processor, or a government body. Of course, this does not mean these concepts cannot intertwine. There are several projects for government-backed cryptocurrencies, but it is still a challenge to develop one that stays true to the principles of the technology. We cannot know what the future holds, but we see that the opposite sides can run in parallel. There already is a decentralized economy, but the question is how much it can grow – in numbers or functions – in the upcoming years. 

5. Sadly, up to this day the space of decentralized finance is abundant with well-concealed scams and tokens bearing no real value. What would help you to distinguish the reliable project from the gimmick – and how can regulators protect investors from falling into this trap?

ZV:

There are several red flags to consider when determining whether a project is valid or not. First of all, it is good to check out their website. See whether they have any licenses to provide services or not. You can expect that proper projects have some media attention as well. The lack of coverage and discussion regarding the project might be a red flag.

The second step is the team behind the project. Do members have sufficient experience? Do they even exist? LinkedIn could be a good starting point, but that is not a silver bullet solution, as not everyone uses it, and not every LinkedIn profile is legitimate.

The third step is to examine the product itself. In many cases, the product is nothing more than a sales system that scams people in the long run. If the growth or profit that the cryptocurrency anticipates is too high or the overall model seems unsustainable, then you should be conscientious moving forward.

Even if we move toward a more centralized ecosystem, which regulators can oversee, scams will still happen. The stigmatization of the overall technology is the worst possible outcome, as it does nothing to solve the problem. Regulators could help by being proactive and independently identifying fraudulent projects while working together with developers and users to identify wallet addresses used by criminals.

6. While choosing the country in which to register your crypto-based business, what were the main criteria you used for guidance?

Attila Krocsek:

Our focus was to choose a crypto-friendly country. After some consideration, Estonia seemed to be the best choice. We looked at several European countries as our primary market is the EU. Estonia has a progressive digital agenda and plenty of incentives in place to support new businesses. They have one of the most straightforward regulatory frameworks on how to start and run a crypto-related business.

7. Knowing that BlockBen is based in Estonia, how would you say European crypto regulations differ from the ones adopted in the USA?

ZV:

The US is still cautious when it comes to regulating cryptocurrencies. The different states and government bodies are acting on their own accord, creating a fragmented legal structure. They lack a comprehensive approach that would define and control the way people and businesses deal with crypto-assets.

Cryptocurrency is legal throughout the European Union, and the relevant authorities have kept rolling out directly applicable regulations over the last couple of years. They aim to create an overarching legislative framework that prevents loopholes and a fragmented market. There are clear paths toward getting licensed as a crypto-business in the EU, but strict KYC/CFT obligations can discourage some from entering. Hardline Blockchain evangelists would look at this with disdain, but we think that it is a necessary obligation to move toward a system that does not allow for fraudulent activities.

8. I believe that crypto-based taxation is always an interesting topic for anyone involved with cryptocurrency on a business level. What has your experience been so far?

ZV:

It depends on whether you provide crypto-based services or you as a company hold and trade crypto-assets. If you do the former, it can be a more clear-cut case: You provide a service, earn a fee from the service and pay income tax after that.

However, if you are holding assets, it can be a daunting task to understand all aspects of taxation. A plethora of things should be considered, such as:

  • the rates on capital gains or property tax from trading and mining
  • the rate of VAT if it applies
  • the points of taxation (whether they are time-based or follow a black-box model where you only need to pay once you withdraw assets into FIAT)

Countries have various rates and legislation in place, and it is essential to discern the correct approach to taxation. It is better to be proactive and discuss matters with experts or even regulators to ensure compliance.

9. Speaking about BlockBen – what role does Natrix play in the performance of your platform, and what are its technically revolutionizing qualities?

AK:

Natrix is our in-house developed hybrid blockchain that integrates the core principles of the technology while offering an enterprise solution to adopt blockchain. Most traditional companies are stuck at the integration of blockchain due to regulatory boundaries. We at BlockBen realized this and created a solution that provides the best of both worlds. Natrix can fit into strict requirements that are present in the financial sector.

It is compliant with GDPR and PSD2, and it can adhere to banking secrecy and governance requirements. We implemented many features (like zero-knowledge protocol, auditing, safe execution of smart contracts) to add more dimensions to its usability. We run our cryptocurrency products and services with Natrix and plan to roll them out using a Saas model. The initial feedback for this was enthusiastic from potential private and public clients alike.

10.  Would you mind sharing more about eBSO digital tool, and how it contributes to creating a responsible blockchain space?

ZV:

There are too many instances where people lose their money when dealing with what seems like proper cryptocurrencies.

The main reason for this is unsuccessful speculative coin projects without any added value. These projects try to get as many people involved as possible so that the creators can pocket the revenue and disappear. Even top tokens have the same risk, and only the fluctuation in supply and demand changes their perceived value.

That is why we created an alternative called eBSO, the first value token in the crypto world. The token’s value derives from two things:

The first is the eBSO’s community gold pool that backs the token. This pool grows with each transaction executed within the BlockBen ecosystem. We chose gold because it makes the token more resistant to fluctuations, not only on the crypto- but the conventional market as well. The gold pool is audited, insured, and guarded in a secure safe in Zurich, Switzerland. At the time of this writing, it was worth over 3.2 Million USD.

The other factor of the eBSO price is the market added value. It stems from the expectations of holders and sellers on the exchanges where eBSO is tradable. eBSO’s future value is connected with the ecosystem that will continue to grow through the adoption of each token and the addition of new products. As the ecosystem expands, more transactions will happen, which grows the community gold pool further. People can price that relevancy and those expectations into the exchange markets. With eBSO, we balance safety with great potential and do this all while being a compliant and licensed institution, which is extremely rare in the cryptocurrency market.

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