How has the public’s reception to LocalEthereum been since it was released?
We were blown away by the number of sign ups we had in the first week. As soon as we opened the site for registrations (trading was disabled until a month later), we had thousands of people join the platform on day one.
During the first week of trading, roughly US$120,000 worth of ether changed hands. We thought that was awesome! But now, only a few months later, we see much more than that in an ordinary day. The growth so far has been amazing.
Even before we launched, we knew the platform was going to be a success. The community has been desperate for a peer-to-peer solution ever since the first Mt. Gox fiasco of 2011. The pioneer cryptocurrency Bitcoin was invented for the very purpose of avoiding intermediaries and yet still, somewhat ironically, most of the risk crypto faces stems from trusting third parties. As we wrote about on our blog, centralized exchanges in 2018 are still making the same terrible mistakes that cost customers hundreds of millions of dollars over and over — probably because, until the introduction of peer-to-peer alternatives like LocalEthereum, they were the only choice.
We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback since we launched and we’re really happy with how everything is panning out so far. We’ve had people from all over the world, including developers, CEOs and even a professor, reach out to us to thank us for creating a much-needed cryptography-based trading platform.
Which countries have a higher transaction volume?
The countries with the highest trading volume are currently Russia, China, the U.S., England, New Zealand, Australia and Venezuela.
How has the adoption been in Latin America?
I recently got home from a short trip to Central America and was lucky enough to meet with a few part-time LocalEthereum traders there. They love it.
Venezuela is a very high-growth area for LocalEthereum: we are seeing new Venezuelan traders every day. One Venezuelan user told me on reddit that we’re ”the difference between eating and not for many”. While I wouldn’t put it that way myself, I’m thrilled that we’re making an impact. The positive feedback we’ve received from Latin America has been overwhelming.
Living in a distorted economy where wages are low and saving money is a death trap, Venezuelans are in desperate need for a financial alternative. I believe cryptocurrency and blockchain technology can fill a lot of these gaps in Venezuela’s economy.
Have you had any security issues on the platform?
We finished developing most of LocalEthereum in June 2017, but we didn’t launch until October. During this time, we rigorously tested and revised the codebase to make sure everything was safe and efficient. We haven’t run into any serious threats to the platform to date and we regularly conduct audits of our own code and policies to ensure high standards are met.
My favourite fact about LocalEthereum is that it doesn’t hold any ether itself – users are in control of their private keys at all times. What that means is that if somebody were to gain access to our database, all they’d find is mostly gibberish. Every message or attachment you send is end-to-end encrypted and every wallet is encrypted in your browser. Besides e-mail addresses, we really don’t have a lot of interesting information for someone to take, and we like it that way.
What we have seen, however, is an increase in phishing attacks. Although every account is protected by mandatory two-factor authentication, we’re fighting these attacks head-on. We’re also working hard on new measures to combat PayPal-related chargeback fraud.
Are there any future updates to be released soon?
Yes! There’s a huge UI update coming very soon as well as a heap of new features.
Many users have asked for greater price controls, and we’ve just finished creating a really neat price equation editor which we’ll roll out with the UI update. We’re very excited about that.
While the platform works fine, there is still a lot on our to-do list. We made a pledge last last year to keep on building and to never let the technology stagnate. We’re always thinking of new ways to make trading ether on the blockchain faster, safer, cheaper and easier for everyone.
Is your service available worldwide or have you had any problems with the regulatory mark/framework of a country?
LocalEthereum is available worldwide. Since we’re not an exchange and we don’t take any deposits or handle anyone’s money, we’re not subject to the same scrutiny that centralized exchanges are.
Of course, it’s important that as a trader you check with your local legislation to make sure you’re complying with any record keeping, KYC or licensing requirements in your area.
What has been the biggest challenge, both in the platform’s development as well as in the user interaction after release?
We’ve learnt that scaling customer support is difficult. Waking up to one hundred new support tickets created during the night can create a long and painful day, but we still gave it our best because we genuinely care about the users. Recently, we hired some help with our customer support desk, which has significantly improved response times. Plus, it means we can put more hours into developing new features.
Scaling the infrastructure to handle enormous website traffic is another uphill battle that we’re winning. While there’s been a few inevitable hiccups, we find that the website is still blazingly fast around the world.