Home » Bitcoin in Times of War: The Essential Role of P2P Exchanges in Ukraine’s Financial Resilience

Bitcoin in Times of War: The Essential Role of P2P Exchanges in Ukraine’s Financial Resilience

by MarketMillion

Why should people learn to use Bitcoin P2P exchanges, and how can they help with remittances or even in crisis situations when you have to pack your bags in a hurry? We discussed this topic with the creator of the long-awaited exchange AceChange, Vlad Galbo, who, thanks to Bitcoin and his experience with peer-to-peer trading, was able to leave the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and safely travel to Slovakia after the outbreak of war.


Hello Vlad, you founded the P2P Bitcoin exchange, or rather, the platform AceChange, to facilitate easier money transfers using Bitcoin. How and when did this idea come about?

bitcoinHi Martin. I first learned about P2P when I was about 18 years old. Back then, Bitcoin didn’t exist yet, but Liberty Reserve did. My friend, who traded with Liberty Reserve, had a P2P exchange and showed me how it works and what it actually provides to customers. At that time, I didn’t understand the significance and impact of P2P. Someone just sent us money, and in return, they received an amount credited to their Liberty Reserve account. Over time, we started to succeed and had to move to Dubai, where we obtained a license. I had to return to Slovakia for family reasons, where I continued as a P2P trader on localbitcoin. At that time, websites offering this type of service were frustrating, and making a P2P trade on their site was time-consuming, and P2P traders and customers unnecessarily lost time and money. That’s when I saw the opportunity to do it better, safer, and most importantly, simpler and faster. And so, the idea to create Acechange.io was born.

Can you explain the principle of its operation to our readers? What will users find on it? What makes the exchange exceptional and unique?

The biggest advantage for Acechange users is anonymity towards banks and states. Acechange users do not buy cryptocurrencies from centralized exchanges but from individuals, so all the bank sees is that two people sent money to each other, especially when purchasing up to 1000 Euros.

If a customer wants to buy with more money, it is necessary to go through the KYC and AML process.

We do not get any IP addresses and do not collect any information about customers; we only have the information that the customer provides us. So, if a customer decides to open multiple accounts without KYC, that is fine.

Last but not least, we are a Slovak company, and in case of any problem, we can solve it much more efficiently than other exchanges based abroad, to whom you can at most write an email.

Acechange itself does not accept any money; Acechange offers an ESCROW service, which can be likened to notary custody. It is one of the safest ways of P2P trading with cryptocurrencies, which are locked until the other party receives or sends fiat currency.

P2P traders (money changers) can set up more than 6,300 payment methods and banks, allowing our system to precisely match the customer’s and the money changer’s bank or payment method, thus ensuring a cheap and fast purchase or sale of cryptocurrencies.

AceChange is set up so that P2P traders – money changers are motivated to be as fast as possible and offer quality services.

Can you briefly explain how buying BTC on AceChange works?

I’ll try, although I might go unnecessarily in-depth with the explanation. However, once you understand it, it will be very simple.

Essentially, the customer needs to enter 3 pieces of information – the amount of money they want to spend on buying bitcoins or USDT (1), the country (2), and the payment method they want to use (3) and then confirm the payment. Every P2P trader (money changer) who meets the criteria entered by the customer in the previous step will receive a notification about the trade request, and the P2P trader who confirms the notification first gets the opportunity to trade.

We strive to make Acechange as simple, fast, and cheap as possible while also being secure so that even customers who are not technically savvy can buy BTC using the P2P method. Currently, we have launched the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies, and remittances still need approximately 8 weeks for completion and testing. At the same time as remittances, we are also developing a mobile application, which is already in test mode in the Appstore and Google Play.

How will AceChange help with solving remittances? Can you explain with a specific example?

Put very simply, remittances with Bitcoin on AceChange is a P2P trade, buying and selling simultaneously. If you’re buying Bitcoin, you pay in FIAT currency (e.g., Euro) to the P2P trader and vice versa if you’re selling BTC, you receive the fiat currency (e.g., Euro).

However, the difference with remittances is that the customer doesn’t receive Bitcoin, but instead, it’s the P2P trader who sends the money to your remittance recipient.

Imagine a scenario: A Chinese person working in Slovakia wants to send money to their family in China. They visit our site, fill out a form where they input their details and choose the payment method they want to use. They also enter information about the payment method through which the recipient will receive the money. For instance, our sender wants to pay via bank transfer using Tatra bank and wishes the recipient to receive money on Wechat. The customer enters this information into our system, which searches for P2P traders who meet their criteria. Since the money will be sent and received within the same bank and payment method, the transfer will be cheap and fast. In this way, we can unite all payment methods under Bitcoin, which covers and moves value wherever it’s needed.

The entire transaction is conditional on the ESCROW function. For example, the P2P trader who is sending money to the recipient will have the Bitcoins released only after the recipient confirms receipt of the money. If this doesn’t happen within 48 hours, AceChange will be notified and will prompt the recipient to confirm the transaction.

Bitcoin is an ideal tool for remittances, but for such a transaction to be processed, it’s necessary to have a P2P trader at both the sending and receiving locations. And we have managed to solve this problem.

How many people are working on the project? What are your ambitions in the coming months and years?

Currently, our team consists of 12 members, with people from 3 countries – Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Australia. In the coming months, we would like to develop our product on the local markets of Slovakia and the Czech Republic, fine-tune the functionality, and prepare a marketing plan for other countries.

Our ambition is to show customers that Bitcoin has functions beyond being a speculative investment and to develop practical uses of Bitcoin, where BTC would serve as an alternative to standard banking services such as remittances, POS terminals, account management, and the like.

For us, the biggest challenge is to create applications and a system that would be fully decentralized but at the same time simple to use.

Fully decentralized services already exist, such as BISQ, but they are too complicated to break into the mainstream. For a decentralized service to be successful, it is essential that it be simple.

I am not surprised by customers who use centralized exchanges. They are simple, and a customer should not have to worry about whether the service they are using is anonymous and secure. That should be a given, a solution that developers and product managers must offer. The customer only wants to know 3 things: the exchange rate they will get, the fee amount, and how to pay. We believe that we will be able to create such a service. Technically, we are very well prepared; we have a great team of developers who have years of experience in fintech and cryptocurrencies.

Moreover, in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, there are many talented people who can help us ensure even better protection and anonymity, and when the right time comes, we would like to invite them to collaborate. I think we are lucky to be developing AceChange in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

On the AceChange blog, you’ve published your own story about Bitcoin during the war in Ukraine. Unfortunately, you have personal experience with the war, as you fled Kyiv with your family. Could you briefly explain why Bitcoin is important in such difficult life situations and how your platform might help in future situations like this?

It’s essential to know that one of the first things that happened when the war broke out in Ukraine was that banks stopped issuing cash and were closed. People didn’t have access to cash, and POS terminals weren’t working either. I don’t know if the merchants turned them off, but mostly you could only pay with cash, so in such a critical situation, the banks just abandoned their customers.

There was another option, which was ATMs. However, there were hours-long lines at them, and within a few hours, you couldn’t find an ATM that still had money. I was OK because I know P2P traders in Kyiv and had bitcoins. So, one phone call was enough for me to go and get cash. This example shows the power and importance of trading.

P2P in Kyiv worked very well, and buying or selling bitcoins was not a problem. Now it has changed a bit, but it’s still possible. Mostly, people prefer P2P trading.

The war in Ukraine just confirmed to me the significance of P2P exchanges and decentralization. It’s necessary to create tools that will be an alternative to the standard financial system. It doesn’t matter if they will make millions, but they must exist. We will appreciate their true value when we need them the most. When remittances are launched on AceChange, we want to focus mainly on Ukraine. Currently, sending money to families abroad is a big problem, and AceChange could solve this issue.

How does the Ukrainian government currently view the use of cryptocurrencies? Are you following this?

Yes, I am following the situation. In March of this year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a law on virtual assets, and Ukraine was set to become another country that would accept Bitcoin as legal tender. The law is signed, but it still needs to be incorporated into Ukraine’s tax code, so BTC does not yet have legal status in Ukraine.

Ukraine planned to legalize Bitcoin by October 1, 2022, but this did not happen due to the war. At the beginning of the war, the Ukrainian government made an official collection where it was possible to contribute using Bitcoin to finance the war and support the population.

Initially, I was glad that Bitcoin was helping in this way, and I myself sent a small amount. I thought that when the government found itself in such a serious situation, it would act correctly, but unfortunately, it turned out as always, the money from the collection was distributed non-transparently, and it looks like some of the cryptocurrencies from the collection are lost in the recent crash of the FTX exchange.

In Ukraine, there is no problem buying Bitcoin, but no one knows if it is legal, to what extent purchases are possible, and how citizens should actually behave when buying Bitcoin. If we add to this the state of war in Ukraine and the fact that Ukraine has a long-standing problem with corruption, it creates fertile ground for the legal theft of cryptocurrencies.

Defining the Ukrainian government’s stance precisely is difficult, but my business partner from Ukraine, also a P2P trader, described it as THE WILD WEST. Before the war, there was no problem buying Bitcoin P2P with a 1% fee, but currently, the fees range from 7% to 15%.

In Ukraine, Bitcoin and USDT are also used by entrepreneurs trying either to protect their money from inflation, which was almost double compared to Slovakia, or to move their assets out of the war zone. Mainly due to the regulations introduced by the National Bank of Ukraine, Bitcoin is the last chance for many people and entrepreneurs to protect their assets.

Vlad, thank you for agreeing to the interview, and I sincerely wish your platform success. From your responses, it is evident that P2P exchanges are undoubtedly needed by society.

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