“Just a year ago in Moscow it was difficult to buy bitcoins without risking life,” – PR Director of the Garantex crypto exchange


  • Interest in cryptocurrencies in Russia has grown sharply over the past year

  • The digital asset market is becoming more civilized

  • New law on digital assets will not radically change anything

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The outgoing year 2020 has become an important milestone on the path towards the adoption of cryptocurrencies in the world. In Russia, a draft law “On digital financial assets” was adopted, and the residents of the country themselves became more interested in bitcoin. BeInCrypto’s editors talked about how Russians perceive cryptocurrencies with Tatyana Maksimenko, the official representative of the Garantex exchange.

– 2020 ends with a powerful wave of growth in the cryptocurrency market. Bitcoin is hitting all-time highs again, reminiscent of its previous leap to highs in December 2017. But the current growth is being attributed to institutional investors who are pouring billions of dollars into bitcoin en masse. Is there a hype among retail investors?

T.M .: The volume of transactions for the purchase and sale of bitcoins has been growing steadily in recent years, despite the crypto winter. But since 2019, we at Garantex have noticed a steady trend towards an increase in the volume of transactions. In 2020, this trend continued, although the first two months the growth was rather sluggish. But this was fully explained by the seasonal decrease in the activity of buyers, who traditionally make the most expensive purchases before the New Year, and there is simply no money left for cryptocurrency in January. In February, the volume of transactions increased slightly, especially since even ordinary buyers were waiting for the growth of cryptocurrency due to the upcoming halving in May.

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But then a pandemic broke out and confused all the cards. At first, bitcoin collapsed, then began to grow. And we saw the first very tangible surge in demand for bitcoins in April. It was a jump of about 20% in one month. The next similar jump in demand, but not for bitcoins, but for stablecoins USDT, we felt in the summer – at the turn of July and August. I guess this was due to the rapid growth of the field of decentralized finance. Users bought USDT, and then either blocked them in smart contracts of DeFi protocols, or exchanged them for ETH, and these coins were already blocked in DeFi, efficient and … More.

In September, in response to a clear demand for digital assets suitable for freezing in DeFi protocols, we at Garantex decided to add ETH trading to the ruble, bitcoin and USDT. Moreover, everyone was waiting for the launch of the zero phase of ETH 2.0 and it was clear that before and after the launch, if everything went well, the ETH rate would go up.

In autumn, the demand for bitcoins continued to grow, this was especially noticeable in early November. But in December, we see a slowdown in the volume of purchases of bitcoins by retail investors. Perhaps the current rate seems overstated to them or they are waiting for a correction, but the excitement, similar to what was in December 2017, when everyone was rushing around Moscow in search of cue balls for $ 15,000-18,000, is no longer observed. Apparently, the experience of those who bought at the peak in 2017 and only now turned out to be a plus, served as an example not to make hasty decisions.

On the other hand, not only the growth in the volume of transactions for the purchase of bitcoins, but also for the sale, slowed down. There is a situation when cryptocurrency holders are not eager to sell it even for $ 27,000. This means that those who are waiting for correction may be left with nothing. As they say, you didn’t buy bitcoin for $ 20,000, you will buy for $ 40,000.

– In 2017, everyone rushed around Moscow in search of bitcoins. And now they are worn?

T.M .: The market for buying and selling cryptocurrency in Moscow has changed beyond recognition over these three years. In 2016 and even more so in 2017, it was not like the Wild West, it was the jungle of the Amazon, where mortal danger could await around every corner. Bitcoins were exchanged through acquaintances “exchangers”, and their contacts were passed from hand to hand. Some “money changers” periodically threw their clients, others left the business, as the rates were growing by leaps and bounds, and where there is large – and completely uncontrollable – money, there is a risk to life. “Money changers” quarreled with each other and started rumors about the unfairness of competitors. The deals were reminiscent of scenes from movies about gangsters: Moscow at night, a buyer and his entourage, a seller with a flash drive and his support group, an intermediary. In general, whoever has never changed a cue ball in Moscow City does not know life.

Tatiana Maksimenko

“Just a year ago in Moscow it was difficult to buy bitcoins without risking life,” - PR Director of the Garantex crypto exchange

– When the situation with the exchange of cryptocurrencies in Moscow began to change?

T.M .: The process was gradual, but the turning point came in the second half of 2019. Either the crypto winter burned out random people and scammers in this area, or after stories of robberies during transactions, crypto investors became more careful and stopped contacting just anyone. A year ago in Moscow it was difficult to buy bitcoins without risking their lives, but now anyone can do it. Although I always say: it is better to keep your mouth shut before a deal. Until the cases of the theft of cryptocurrency are normally investigated in Russia, it is better to keep quiet about the plans to buy this property. Money loves silence, and cryptocurrencies love silence doubly.

– In 2020, Russia adopted essentially the first draft law on digital assets, which also touches on issues related to cryptocurrencies. Something will change for exchangers in 2021 when this law comes into force?

T.M .: For exchangers, nothing will change dramatically. Bitcoin in Russia has not been banned, and will not be banned after the entry into force of this law in 2021. If anything changes, it will be the need to declare transactions with cryptocurrency in excess of a certain amount. Bitcoin will become visible to the law: it will be recognized as property, it can be inherited, donated, reclaimed in a bankruptcy case, or filed for theft. Thus, bitcoin will have at least some kind of legal status. The good news ends there. Alas.

Read also: Five expert opinions on how cryptocurrency regulation in Russia will change in 2021

The bad news is that there is great doubt that this legal status will play into the hands of crypto investors. Law enforcement agencies – yes, it will play, but crypto investors are unlikely. Perhaps, already in 2021, the first cases of confiscation of cryptocurrencies in a criminal case and even its sale at auctions will appear in Russia.. 

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“Just a year ago in Moscow it was difficult to buy bitcoins without risking life,” - PR Director of the Garantex crypto exchange
“Just a year ago in Moscow it was difficult to buy bitcoins without risking life,” - PR-director of the Garantex crypto exchange
“Just a year ago in Moscow it was difficult to buy bitcoins without risking life,” - PR-director of the Garantex crypto exchange

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