Business 19 November 2018

Erik Gibbs

Huobi wants to be a crypto one-stop shop in Russia

In October, Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Huobi announced that it was expanding across the Middle East and Africa. That is just part of a global expansion plan currently being undertaken by the third-largest crypto exchange—based on trading volumes—and is in addition to its goal to set up an office in Russia. That goal has now been reached, but the company says that it has much higher ambitions for the country than just offering an exchange.

Huobi is the first major crypto exchange to have a physical presence in Russia, complete with a Russian-speaking call center. Looking past the trading options, the company wants to also offer lending and space rentals to miners, provide an educational platform for blockchain and crypto innovation and also to help shape the country’s crypto regulations.

While several other exchanges, including Bitfinex, Binance and OKEx, offer a platform for Russian traders, and even have Russian interfaces, not one provides real-time support in Russia. Customers of those platforms who don’t speak Korean, Chinese or English are simply out of luck to finding immediate answers to their questions.

Huobi opened its new office in Moscow, complete with 30 staff members, about a week ago. The office includes the call center, as well as back-office support for over-the-counter listing and trading, as well as personal managers for certain high-end customers. The office manager, Andrew Grachev, told CoinDesk, “If someone wants to start trading with $1,000, he can come to the office and register with the help of a personal manager.”

Huobi Russia is running a campaign that offers commissions below 0.1% in an effort to drum up new business. The rate is applicable to anyone who trades over 50 Bitcoin Core (BTC) within a two-week period this month and is accompanied by a cash back reward that gives traders 20% back on trading fees in the form of Huobi’s own crypto, Huobi token.

While Russia is still trying to figure out if it’s in or out of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, the platform won’t be able to accept rubles for deposits. The head of the Center of Digital Transformations for the Vnesheconombank development bank said, “[Huobi officials] consulted with us a lot, and in the end, I think, we made them feel disappointed. They were interested in providing fiat operations, but we told them it’s impossible.”

In the meantime, Huobi will push forward with its other plans. It will offer blockchain training through a special course at Plekhabov University of Economics and will also provide laons to miners so that they can purchase equipment. It will also rent space to miners, with all of the new plans more than likely beginning in the first quarter of 2019.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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