The first cryptocurrency exchange has recently opened in the post-Soviet space according to many news stories in Ukrainian media. Of course, we are talking about the new crypto-exchange which just opened in Belarus. But what are the features of Belarusian’s relationship with crypto and why, in fact, is this exchange not actually the first of its kind in the CIS. Let’s figure it out together.
The crypto-exchange in Belarus is certainly a precedent, which is interesting in and of itself certainly, but not only. It is also interesting in that its presence allows for a certain amount of state control over the crypto-system in general. The exchange is open to companies registered in Belarus and its citizens. However, like many things in Belarus, state regulation of the industry is quite high, and the question remains: how will this be affected long term? It is difficult to envision, because the experience is unique. But, if we look at Venezuela, for example, where a national cryptocurrency was attempted, the system is quickly losing value against the background of crisis in the country.
Of course, the idea of authoritarian control contradicts the very logic of a decentralised blockchain and cryptocurrency based on this technology. However, the Belarusian project is more concerned with the ability to legally make transactions, paying with crypto-active assets, which may work. Moreover, the peculiarity of the initiative is that the exchange has issued more than 10 000 tokenised assets with links to a stock, an index, or a raw material. At the same time, the closed nature of the service for foreign agents still remains an issue. Though there is hope the situation will change soon.
It is also interesting to note that the crypto-exchange did not open on the wave of last year’s Bitcoin success, when crypto was at the heart of all conversation, but now – when people are voicing opinions about cryptocurrency as a one-day innovation. Of course this is not true. The thing is that for each rise there is stabilisation, and hype cannot be a permanent fixture for any market. This is interesting because in Ukraine the question of cryptocurrency legalisation has been postponed until better times. The draft law has not yet been approved and public debate has moved from social and political media to those more specialised. Against this background, Belarusians demonstrate great consistency and insight, continuing the work and achieving the first significant result.
A few words should be added about the fact that this experience is far from the first crypto-exchange in the post-Soviet space. One needs to remember that Estonia also belongs to this territory, and that in the IT flagship of Eastern Europe there are more than 500 crypto-exchanges. Not only that, the registration procedure is very democratic. Yes, there are also disadvantages there, such as asset owners facing difficulties in the banking sector. But time does not stand still, and I am sure that everything will be settled soon.
As for Ukraine, this is another lesson for us. We must not chase the media resonance but continue to work when it fades away. This approach speaks precisely about consistency, about the ability to cope with trends, and not just to designate them. Do we need a strict regulation exchange? I am not so sure. But the Estonian method may well be useful. And not only in the matter of openness, but also in control, as the money laundering is very carefully monitored and illegally received bills do not go through their sites. As I have repeated many times, the task of the state is to be a regulator, not a guard. Business will understand how to develop; the main thing is to create a legal framework and an understandable corridor of actions.
What steps need to be taken now? First of all, a law needs to be passed. Next, a case needs to be made for the industry, the results for which we will not need to wait long.