by Jamie Holmes
In a recent UnikrnRadio podcast, Bittrex CEO Bill Shihara revealed that the US-based exchange would open up USD deposits and possibly dump tether as one of the main pairings. The episode also touched on the history of the exchange and how it got started.
In an interview posted January 30, the CEO of Bittrex hinted that dollar deposits would soon be available on the popular cryptocurrency exchange, talked about decentralized exchanges and what got him first into bitcoin.
First things first, many observers of the cryptocurrency space have noticed that exchanges have failed to keep pace with demand; even the most significant exchanges like Bitstamp halted applications after a surge in new users during December 2017. When asked about opening up new signs ups, Shihara has this to say:
“Yes, there is going to be a time, I actually think it’s not that far away, when we are going to open up for global signups again, we will end up doing additional requirements, minimum deposit sizes, and things like that to trade, ensuring signs up that are coming in, are people who understand what they are doing… demand has been pretty incredible.”
The main revelation of the podcast was that Bittrex would be opening up to USD deposits. Currently, the exchange only deals in cryptocurrencies, with either bitcoin (BTC) or tether (USDT) serving as the pairing for all of their listed cryptos.
However, the CEO cautioned that “Bittrex will never be retail shop” and “the average person who knows nothing about crypto could or should trade on Bittrex.” Instead, they are targeting institutional and professional traders.
Shihara also revealed how those businesses focused on retail investors have used Bittrex’s back-end to offer crypto to a wider audience, “One of the ways, we get the best of both worlds, we have these partnerships, such as Korean exchange Upbit, they use our liquidity, but is basically a retail shop in Korea. We’ve built this back-end infrastructure, and Upbit can just plug into it and build on top of it.”
More partnerships like the one with Upbit are coming in 2018, as the exchange’s chief hinted:
“We’re going to see more deals like that in the coming year. And we will be doing USD trading; this won’t be open to everybody, available for the majority of our customers as well as foreign partners that build on top of us.”
The comment comes at a time when suspicions of Tether have heightened, with the CFTC subpoena against Bitfinex and Tether made public on January 30. If Tether is found to be artificially inflating the price of the cryptocurrency market and the altcoin is found not to have the reserves to back up the supply, it could potentially take down those exchanges which rely on USDT (such as Bittrex and Poloniex). When asked about Tether, if it’s something to be concerned about, Shihara said:
“Tough question, we treat it as another altcoin. The market agrees Tether is backed by something, as it is trading as a dollar substitute. But I always tell people to do their own research and be cautious in crypto.”
On the question of whether decentralized exchanges and atomic swaps will affect Bittrex in any significant way, Shihara said, “I think the technology has a long way to mature, we’ve got a long way to go before we see mature decentralized exchange solutions, especially trading the volume that we do on Bittrex. ”
He did also go on to say that decentralized exchanges already have their niches, saying for individuals wanting to make a single trade with a fixed price in mind, and is in need of an escrow; a decentralized exchange is an excellent way to do that right now.
Other talking points in the interview included the history of Bittrex, the difficulty of raising capital in the aftermath of the bitcoin price implosion during 2015, and how the exchange chief initially got in bitcoin (by mining the cryptocurrency with a few friends). The CEO also revealed he doesn’t follow crypto Twitter too closely. The full podcast can be found here.