On November 11, an audio recording of an interview with Egor Petukhovsky, co-owner of the Chatex cryptocurrency exchange, was published on our blog. The interview was conducted by Polina Vishnevskaya, you can find its full original here. In this article, we’re sharing a written version of the podcast with you.
Polina: Hello! Now I will give my opening remarks and we will start the interview.
Egor: Hello. Agreed.
P .: Hello, dear listeners of our podcast. Today our guest is Egor Petukhovsky, who is the co-founder of the Chatex cryptocurrency exchange. Egor, hello! How are you doing?
Е .: Hello! Let me just correct you a little – I am not a co-founder, but a co-owner, I came to the project a year after its foundation. Like an early investor.
P .: Yes, co-owner, sorry. So the first question is: can you share your background with our community? How long have you been in the cryptocurrency industry?
Е .: Yes, of course. To be honest, I have never worked anywhere in my life, I have been in the business industry since childhood. My first business was IT outsourcing, in 2011 we founded one of the largest fintech companies in the CIS, which produces and sells smart-pos terminals – these are the terminals that are used when you pay with a bank card, for example, for your coffee. It is very likely that if you made a payment through a terminal with the inscription Sberbank or the name of some other large bank, that it was our terminal. Recently, we launched soft pos technology, with the help of which the phone can become a pos terminal. Well, that is, I have been in fintech for a long time, it turns out, 9 years, and for the first time I encountered cryptocurrency in 2017. Sasha Ivanov pulled me there, you must have heard of him, this is the founder of Waves and, in fact, Waves cryptocurrency. He invited me there.
P: Yes, I understand. Our second question is: what inspires you to do business, as you said, and not to work? What is the source of inspiration for you in your work?
E .: Well, look, if we talk about what we are doing now, it resonates with what I would like myself, that is, with the principles of honesty and justice, which are so lacking now. It seems to me that it is the cryptocurrency that directly reflects them. Let’s take a closer look at examples: when you make a transfer abroad to your parents, for example, as I do, even a small amount – 10-15 thousand rubles – the bank takes a huge commission, plus it takes a lot of time and requires a lot of checks when sending and receiving. Moreover, we actually pay for nothing, because what is it, in the processing to change a couple of numbers? That is, the cost of this operation is minimal, and we can pay 50 dollars for the transfer and even more. I believe that this is dishonest and unfair, and I like all cryptocurrency things, because they solve this problem, make the world a more convenient place to transfer money and values to family and friends.
P .: Yes, I completely agree with you. The next question is about your activity at Chatex. How did you come here, since you say that you joined a year after the foundation? Please tell us this story.
E.E .: As I said earlier, we have a rather large fintech company, and after Sasha Ivanov pulled me into the cryptocurrency industry, it became clear that there was no way back, and we became interested in various projects. We invested in absolutely different projects, we had 4 projects that we supervised and to which we gave money, and one of them was Chatex. In general, there is a separate story with it, I met Vlad in 2017, I think, he talked to me about the project, about his company. We really wanted to buy a license from him, but at that time, Vlad’s founding partners charged some completely insane price. It was very expensive, and we abandoned this idea. And then the investors ran out of money, and Vlad came for a loan, and we offered to simply buy out their share and become investors * laughs *. When we signed all the necessary documents and became real co-owners, we began to jointly develop the business and got involved in the operations. It turned out to be the most interesting of all 4 projects in which we have invested. In particular, I focused on Chatex and did not do anything else, I have even left the operational management of other projects. This is how it happened.
P .: I understand you. Vlad came to the AMA session, is he the CEO of the company or what is his role in all this? Can you please explain it to our listeners?
Е .: Vlad is the founder of the project, he was the person who came up with this wonderful idea – to launch a bank with the help of instant messengers, and he was CEO for a long time. But now we have CEO Michael Ross-Johnson, also, probably, have heard about him. And Vlad, as a superhero, is engaged in all complex innovative projects, in particular, he now supervises a legal block and is simultaneously engaged in launching in Ethiopia and other African countries.
P.: And there is also information that you are going to open an office in India. Why open an office in another country if it’s a neo bank in a messenger? Can you please tell us more about this?
Е .: Yes, everything is simple – India speaks at least 6 languages, there are a lot of dialects, and we want to speak with users in their native language. For this, accordingly, local people are needed, who take into account all cultural characteristics. And yet, do not forget that we are not just a neo bank, we are a friendly neo bank, and in order to be friendly around the world, you have to be a neighbor. That is, it is impossible to be friendly, living in New York, with a person who lives, for example, on the Fiji Islands. Because these are different cultural codes, everything is different, and we want to communicate with the user in his native language, so that, like we do, when you use Chatex: “Hello, friend!”. We want this “hello friend” to sound real and not deceitful, so we always recruit people in the countries where we go.
P.: Yes, I understand you, that’s great. I would also like to learn more about the activities of Chatex, perhaps you can share some figures, statistics?
E .: You know, unfortunately, I cannot share all the numbers, but let me have a look for the sake of interest. Wow, there are already 179 thousand users, and the day before yesterday there were 177! Did you see, huh? We are growing by 1,000 new users per day, which is great, I didn’t even expect to see such numbers. I thought they would be smaller. Well, plus, you remember, when we applied for participation in the Free TON project, we said that 25% of all TON wallets were created by Chatex. How do you like these numbers? * laughs *. I don’t know, but I hope that now this number is more, because we are not growing so fast, but I would like the community to grow even faster than we do. That would be great, of course. But at that time it was 25% for sure with us.
P: Yes, it’s very cool. I would also like to know your TON Crystal turnover per day?
E .: You know, unfortunately, I cannot say this. The only thing I can say is that it has been growing steadily since July. We observe constant growth, we are probably talking about … No, I can’t even say the order, because they are constantly changing. Well, that is, it is a growing trend and large sums. This is hundreds of thousands of dollars.
P .: Okay, I get it. There was also a question from our listeners: what currency is TON most often exchanged for? Bitcoin, Ethereum or USDT?
Е .: Well, this is not a secret, you can even see it by going to the liquidity glass – on USDT, where the largest trading volume is. I don’t know how much it is in percentage, but there’s definitely more than half, but I don’t know the exact numbers. USDT vs. TON and TON vs. USDT are the most popular pair.
P .: I also wonder how many people you have in your team and what are your plans for expansion?
E.: We are 34 people – 30 Spartans, 3 Musketeers and one D’Artanyan, it turns out *laughs *. Of course, we are expanding, we are constantly looking for talents, we really love the Free TON community and, by the way, the last of our guys, whom we are very glad to see joining us, they just came from the Free TON community when they found out about us from the community. In general, to be honest, we have a great team, I love them, they are amazing. We have 2 programmers from the Top 500 by Google Jam, we have very cool top management, these are the guys from Rocketbank. Well, if I name projects, you have heard about them and you can see for yourself who we have. We invite just people who are crazy in a good way, only those who are focused on the outcome. Well, honestly, when you have a good idea, there is no problem finding people. Because people want good ideas. Those who are already adults, independent and self-realized, they will not go for the money, they will go for the idea.
P .: Well, of course, I completely agree with you. Here’s another question: how difficult is it to have a financial project, what problems did you face when you started, when you continued to develop it? Maybe there are some legal problems or something else?
Е .: As I already said, I have been in fintech since 2011, and of course it is more difficult than something else, probably. Although, what is complexity – we are probably talking about some initial investments, it is clear that it is very difficult to raise a fintech project from scratch, because huge financial resources are needed there, huge experience, and so on. It was not difficult for us, because we are in the market, for us it was just another project that, fortunately, has grown. Of course, you mentioned legal issues here, they are no less important than the development in fact. Therefore, we have a fairly serious team of lawyers who work no less than programmers. Let me give you an example: if you develop a service that allows you to eat right, or a game application, then there is probably one lawyer and twenty programmers. And we probably have five programmers for two lawyers – about this ratio, because we are talking about capital and financial issues. Often we are faced with some kind of local regulatory restrictions, so, of course, legal issues are extremely important. You know it yourself – I will not point a finger – but you must perfectly remember what happened this spring and for what reason.
P .: Yes, yes, yes. How did you find out about Free TON in general, why did you choose this particular project? What became the main prerequisite for cooperation?
Е .: I will be as honest as possible, in general, as always. Of course, we originally wanted to support the project launched by the Durov brothers. All our technology support – we dived there solely hoping to work with TON. But when TON ceased to exist for the legal reasons that we talked about above, Free TON appeared. And since we already spent quite a lot of money on support, we decided that okay, let’s partner with Free TON. To be honest, at that time we had no idea what it was, but I call it a lucky break. Because now, looking back, I am very glad that we entered here. It gave us a huge number of users, especially valuable community – in general, I’m very glad that we got into Free TON, although we had no plans for this.
P .: Okay, I understand you. Another question: are there any details of your cooperation with the Free TON project? Maybe you will share some of them with us?
Е .: Well, as my colleague says, this is match made in heaven – we found each other. Of course I will. Let’s start with the fact that our values and development plans completely coincide. I have not yet come across projects from the cryptocurrency business that would be so close to Chatex ideologically. That is, we are promoting the same values and, moreover, we do it in the same markets. Free TON helps us a lot from the point of view of the community, as I already said – very strong guys, very cool ones come from the community and constantly throw some ideas and comments to us. This drive is very cool. As I said before, one of our strong regional managers just came from the Free TON community, so we are together here. It looks very organic. I think there will be great results here for Free TON and for us.
P .: What are your further plans for cooperation? Maybe there is some specifics?
Е .: To begin with, we plan to fulfill all the obligations that we indicated when submitting the application. By the way, some of them are already being actively implemented: from November 6, as you know, a cashback program for users has been launched. That is, a user, not even knowing about Free TON, having entered Chatex to make a crypto-fiat / fiat-crypto transaction for more than $100, receives 1 TON as a commission, that is, as a reward. Thus, we ensure the distribution of TONs among crypto users who have never heard of it. But this is only the beginning, so we are acting according to the plan, everything as announced. Moreover, we have a channel in which we post the achievements of our cooperation with Free TON. You’ve probably seen some cool stickers from Chatex that feature TONs. Well, a lot of things, actually! Now the guys are still preparing the coolest thing, I would say: soon you will see a huge Free TON section on our website.
P .: Okay, we will wait for it! I also wonder what other partners you have and are you planning to develop partnerships further? Maybe with BitGo or other players in the cryptocurrency or non-cryptocurrency market?
Е .: On the one hand, of course, I would like to call BitGo our partner, but on the other hand, it is still our contractor to ensure the operation of custody, a cryptocurrency storage service. That is, he is both a partner and a contractor on the other side. Of course, we are always open for cooperation. Moreover, we are now preparing a full API – this is a thing that allows you to connect completely different services to Chatex functions. In particular, we are already starting to connect stores, which we give the opportunity to carry out acquiring in cryptocurrency using Chatex. As far as I know, about a dozen stores are already connected. Soon we will be connecting traders, arbitrageurs, smart contract developers – in fact, everyone will be able to use the Chatex functions due to the API being prepared for publication. I think this will give the development of Free TON, and for us, and for traders with arbitrageurs, it will give an opportunity for additional earnings and the creation of new instruments.
P.: Excellent. What do you think, what are the prospects for cryptocurrency for 5 years?
Е .: Let’s see what happened to TON – in the spring we only learned that such a thing exists. 4-5 months have passed since Chatex was connected, and what do we have now? A huge community all around the world, a huge number of users, a huge number of transactions. And this happened, can you imagine, in only 4-5 months! And I’m even afraid to imagine what will happen in 5 years.
P .: Yes, everyone hopes for the same rapid growth. Also wondering, do you invest in cryptocurrencies? If so, which ones? Do you hold TONs and if so, how much?
Е .: Hmm, what an interesting question. Honestly, do you know under what circumstances I received my first TONs? There was a Poker TON bot, and there were free tournaments. I just won the first TONs in a poker tournament at Poker TON *laughs *. I still have them, so it’s true – I have my own TONs. Well, of course, we are pushing the team to use cryptocurrencies. So that they themselves could be not only developers and employees, but also owners, so that everyone would be in the same boat with our beloved and dear users.
P .: I understand. Do you hold any other cryptocurrencies besides TON or not?
Е .: Well, to be honest, I only use them for household needs. Well, after all, we also position Chatex in such a way that it is a thing that allows you to receive, transfer, exchange. Probably someone is speculating at Chatex, but I am not a trader. When I need a cryptocurrency for some purpose, for example, transfer money to relatives or pay for the BitGo service, then of course we use it, but we do not participate in active speculation. My main cryptocurrency is USDT.
P .: I understand you. And our last question for today: I wonder what you could wish our listeners?
Е .: Of course, I would like to wish our listeners success, and considering that we are in November 2020, also health. And, well, less fear, feel free to come and upload your documents to the service to increase the limit * laughs *. This is what I would like to wish the audience.
P .: Okay, thanks! Great wish. I want to thank you for devoting your time to our interview and for answering our questions honestly and in detail.
Е .: Thank you! All the best and goodbye.