Hodl Hodl: It’s Not Bitcoin’s Job to Make You Rich
It might be a relatively new player on the market, however, having launched only in February this year, cryptocurrency p2p exchange Hodl Hodl already gained enough popularity, primarily among the so called Bitcoin maximalists.
Challenging to some extent such industry veterans as, for example, LocalBitcoins, Hodl Hodl offers secure purchase and sell of Bitcoin and Litecoin with the latter being considered by many the next long term investment alternative after BTC.
Moreover, the exchange is not doing any combative advertising, relying on more direct communication with the community instead, mainly on social media. This strategy is also supplemented by Baltic Honeybadger, a Bitcoin conference the Hodl Hodl team hosts in Riga, the capital of Latvia.
This year the event will be held for the second time with the speakers line-up being specifically solid. With the names like Peter Todd, Erik Lombroso, Matt Corallo, Jameson Lopp, Dr. Adam Back, Elizabeth Stark and Lawrence Nahum, Baltic Honeybadger 2018 can be righteously considered a top Bitcoin event on par with last year’s Breaking Bitcoin in Paris, or Building on Bitcoin in Lisbon earlier this year.
ForkLog spoke to Hodl Hodl’s CEO Max Keidun and CTO Roman Snitko, discussing intricacies of the platform, its future plans as well as the upcoming Baltic Honeybadger 2018 conference.
ForkLog: Let’s make it clear for our readers, Hodl Hodl is a p2p platform that allows user to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, not a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange as some people mistakenly call it. What are the main features that make Hodl Hodl different from decentralized exchanges?
Hodl Hodl: A decentralized exchange is an exchange that doesn’t have a central server. We do have it, however, we’re also better than traditional centralized and P2P exchanges in that we don’t have a wallet where we store users’ coins. The coins are stored in a special escrow address to which the exchange has only 1 key while the other key belongs to the seller. This key is generated in the frontend (in the user’s browser) and is not known to Hodl Hodl.
ForkLog: How do you assure safety of users’ funds and what other security measures you are planning to introduce?
Hodl Hodl: As described above, the biggest security measure is that we don’t store users’ coins in our own wallet – we don’t have it. However we are still working hard to make sure there are no angles of attack that can be exploited: we had three rounds of penetration testing before the launch and we’re running a white hacker bug bounty program where hackers can help us identify vulnerabilities.
Apart from that there’s 2FA authentication and various other security measures implemented. For instance, we have a page with the list of all the devices users accessed the site with. If they suspect it wasn’t them, they can block that device and change their password.
ForkLog: At the moment you support two currencies, Bitcoin and Litecoin. Do you have any plans to introduce others assets?
Hodl Hodl: No, there are no such plans.
ForkLog: Your platform had SegWit implemented from the very start. What about Lightning Network?
Hodl Hodl: SegWit is a well-tested solution that is part of the Bitcoin protocol. Lightning Network is a very young technology built on top of Bitcoin. It is indeed very interesting, but it will take time before all the issues are ironed out and exchanges can safely use it. At this point, we think it’s a risk not worth taking.
ForkLog: What about your user base? What countries make the most trading volume on Hodl Hodl?
Hodl Hodl: Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America.
ForkLog: Can you shed more light on the recently announced OTC desk, like what country will be issuing the brokerage license and traders from which regions you expect to be the most interested in this offer?
Hodl Hodl: Yes, recently we have announced an OTC business line due to lots of requests from high volume OTC traders and brokers. We’ve already developed Private Offers solution for OTC trades, which allows traders to ensure extra confidentiality, and currently we are also developing a new multisig escrow system, that will allow trade large volumes in more secure way.
We’ve already registered our own brokerage arm, that we will announce in upcoming weeks, and last week we’ve received a license from Estonia.
We already have a lot of OTC partners and traders that are waiting for our new multisig escrow system launch. Majority of them are from Europe, CIS countries, Middle East, Asia. We also have few requests from North America.
ForkLog: What makes Baltic Honeybadger conference different from other events?
Hodl Hodl: We don’t promote ICOs, shady coins or projects. We’re Bitcoin focused and we don’t actually use the word “Blockchain” anywhere. I think that says a lot. It’s a primarily cypherpunk conference, focused on developers and technical issues. We have a really great line up and the tickets are the cheapest among out of all Bitcoin conferences out there. We also have student tickets, which go at 100 EUR.
ForkLog: Last year the conference was held in November, however this time it comes almost two months earlier. There’s also a different location. What are the reasons behind these changes?
Hodl Hodl: We thought September is a much better time for everyone to visit and enjoy Riga. Last year was cold. As for the venue, we tried really hard to book the same place, but it was unavailable this year. Hopefully, this year’s venue won’t disappoint. It’s slightly far away from the old town, but it also has larger capacity.
ForkLog: Are there any specific speakers you personally look forward to hear?
Hodl Hodl: No. One thing we do – we try to be neutral and invite people who work in different parts of the Bitcoin ecosystem, so that attendees get a full picture. Some are more well-known than others, but it doesn’t matter. The only criteria are how interesting the talk is going to be and whether this person has any good insights to offer or things to share.
ForkLog: For outsiders a conference like this might look like an event for the initiated, like a membership club. Do you think that with quite a number of speakers belonging to the cypherpunk and crypto anarchism movements it can have a real positive impact on Bitcoin’s adoption among mainstream users who often have fears about things they either don’t know or don’t understand?
Hodl Hodl: Of course we think it can have a positive impact. People should know why and by whom Bitcoin was started and why it exists. It’s not there to make the existing financial system and incumbents feel better. It’s not a startup. It’s not just something cool. It’s here to challenge the system.
ForkLog: People come to Bitcoin for different reasons, including financial benefits. What would you say first to those who are just getting familiar with the world of crypto?
Hodl Hodl: This is very true. People do come to Bitcoin for different reasons. That’s why we always try to find out what concerns a person, why would he consider Bitcoin, then maybe offer him an explanation with an emphasis on what’s important to him personally. One thing we would discourage is a notion that Bitcoin can make people rich. It can’t. If you work hard and are smart about how you invest and hodl, then maybe. But it’s not Bitcoin’s job to make you rich. In fact, as demonstrated by the recent bubble, it has made many undisciplined investors poorer.
ForkLog: When we talked last time, you said the attacks on Bitcoin will be more exquisite and sophisticated. What are the biggest threats today?
Hodl Hodl: I recently discovered an excellent write up by Eric Voskuil (one of the speakers, libbitcoin maintainer) about the possible future of Bitcoin, I highly recommend it to everyone. In fact, read the whole Wiki on cryptoeconomics.
Max Keidun & Roman Snitko were interviewed by Andrew Asmakov
Baltic Honeybadger 2018 will take place on September 22-23 in Riga, Latvia. Don’t forget to save from your ticket purchase and get the most profitable deal with the code forkloghoney2018 (number of promo codes is limited).
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