The Future for Unregulated Bitcoin Exchanges

To KYC or not to KYC? In this episode, CoinDesk’s Anna Baydakova talks to Hodl Hodl and Bisq, two non-custodial, no-KYC bitcoin exchanges.

One year ago, the Financial Action Task Force, the global anti-money laundering watchdog, ruled that crypto transactions data should be controllable, and ever since the question has been not if you KYC your users but how you do it.

But not all bitcoiners have surrendered to this norm. Hodl Hodl and Bisq don’t provide centralized custody and don’t check user identity. They also don’t employ the blockchain tracing tools to block the “tainted” coins (blacklisted as coming from illicit activities), which has become a must for major bitcoin exchanges these days.

What comes with this? A chance to buy and sell bitcoin without revealing your identity, as well as much more responsibility over how you buy and store your crypto. Max Keidun, the CEO of Hodl Hodl, and Steve Jain, contributor to Bisq, dig into why, in the times of crypto-compliance, people still might need (or maybe just lawfully want) to keep their bitcoin deals to themselves.

There are more questions to arise from such old-school-cypherpunk thinking: how can you make sure you don’t get scammed at these p2p platforms? What do you do if you buy “tainted” coins blacklisted by the FATF-abiding exchanges and vendors?

Max and Steve share their takes on this, and the main explanation is probably: “everything has a price.” Including freedom from surveillance and data leaks.

We also touch the matter of decentralization that is important to both Hodl Hodl and Bisq. Hodl Hodl is planning to open-source itself, so everyone can clone and run their own p2p bitcoin exchange in case the regulators go after Keidun and his team. And Bisq fully decentralized last year, when it turned all its decision making over to a DAO.


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