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June 27, 2022
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Piotr Bień [Bitcan]: if banks make it difficult for us, we have plan B –

In a few months, new regulations will apply in Poland regarding the operation of exchange offices and exchanges in the cryptocurrency market. On this occasion, we decided to talk to Piotr Bień, CEO Bitcan.pl, one of the top digital currency exchange offices in our country.

In search of brilliant and hardworking colleagues

: You tried to start your career in the cryptocurrency market in Great Britain …

Piotr Bień (Bitcan.pl): When I moved to the UK in 2015, I believed that I would find bright, hard-working and full of ideas people there. I realized very quickly that these features are much easier to find among my fellow countrymen. Therefore, when I fully grasped the idea of ​​blockchain, I decided to devote myself completely to this industry and return to Poland.

Have you found such people in Poland?

In 2018, while working with Binance, I started researching the potential of the Polish cryptocurrency market with a conference FX Cuffs. It turned out that we have people like prof. Krzysztof Piech, who devote their time to – together with entrepreneurs and experienced programmers – build an innovative blockchain and cryptocurrency sector in Poland.

Meanwhile, the retention of intellectual and financial capital in Poland, and joint work on the creation of a new sector in Poland, do not seem to fall within the spectrum of interest of the National Revenue Administration and the Polish Financial Supervision Authority. At that time, both of the aforementioned institutions, establishing the tax and legal framework for the functioning of enterprises in innovative areas, did a lot to suppress the emerging new business and push it beyond the Polish legal and fiscal system.

You’re right, but what do you think can be done about it?

In previous years, the Polish Bitcoin Association was active, unfortunately, due to its legal form, it did not have sufficient clout to effectively influence the decisions made by state institutions and bodies of key importance for the industry.

After consulting with Ms Anna Streżyńska, [ówczesną] The Minister of Digitization, and with Krzysztof Piech, I decided to establish an institution that could, with full rights, represent representatives of the Polish cryptocurrency market in talks with legislative and executive institutions and bodies. This is how the Blockchain and New Technologies Chamber of Commerce was created.

Unfortunately, despite the legal obligation imposed on them, to this day state institutions do not respect and do not consult their ideas with companies creating the cryptocurrency market. Not understanding the potential of blockchain technology, not following global trends, they not only close the development of those interested, but also block the development of the innovative technology sector in Poland for years. This is at least incomprehensible and against the well-understood interest of the general public, because – I reiterate my words from the session of the parliamentary committee on cryptocurrencies – “blockchain is an honesty technology”, if only it is fully understood.

Adjustments are needed

Thus we come to the issue of market regulation. Do you think they are needed on the cryptocurrency market, “yesterday”?

Regulations are undoubtedly needed and I say this from my daily experience of a person running a cryptocurrency company. In 2019, my friends and I established a Small Payment Institution, the Litpay company. Initially, we created all products and brands under one banner. Unfortunately, after dozens of talks with banks, payment intermediaries or the Polish Financial Supervision Authority, we had to separate cryptocurrency activities into separate companies, and this is how the ARI10 group was created. This operation was legally necessary as it allows us to continue our business activities. From the operational director’s point of view, it was a huge challenge, especially in terms of accounting, finance and organization. The new structure allows banks and intermediaries to assess which product separately and make decisions on the terms and conditions of cooperation.

In spite of the changes, have you had and still have problems with maintaining bank accounts?

Yes! However, this is still nothing. One of the banks, despite a court order, disabled our access to a bank account. Am I surprised by this approach of banks? No, because I can understand that they need a clear and consistent basis for making decisions about working with representatives of a given sector. It is in the interest of customers and the entire fair part of the industry to regulate the rules of the market. Institutional omissions in this area are the direct cause of fraud and abuse. It does not take her away from state bodies by evading responsibility.

The long-awaited regulations enter into force in autumn. However, many experts warn that they can “finish” the cryptocurrency market in Poland. Are you not worried about your company’s future?

When it comes to the future of ARI10, I am full of optimism, because our solutions already exceed banking security standards. We have set ourselves the goal of creating solutions that detect fraudulent transactions at an early stage. In this area, we cooperate, for example, with the Polish Bank Association (“Secured Documents” system), the National Clearing House (“Ognivo” system), the Polish Security Printing Works (“eDO App”) and Nethone. We have implemented a multi-level user verification system, including video verification and – in the case of large-value transactions – asset source testing. One of the most important elements of the system is collecting fingerprints from electronic devices and web browsers. We were the first institution that started cooperation with Nethone and to this day we create new security models using machine learning and artificial intelligence. This allows us to effectively protect hundreds of users a day who would often lose their life savings as a result of fraud.

We have also repeatedly signaled the willingness to exchange and share with other entities and institutions databases containing analyzes regarding the security of transactions, not only in the area of ​​cryptocurrencies. In the knowledge we have gained over the years, we see one of the most valuable tools that this sector can already use together and use effectively.

A completely different, passive model of operation was adopted by banks. They only decided to inform about the threats, but did not even make a minimal effort to actively counteract the increasing scale of fraud together with companies from the cryptocurrency market. Together, we have great possibilities, it is enough to really want to notice the problem and actively cooperate on its solution. The passive attitude of banks is only part of the problem. Working with cybercrime departments and prosecutors, we realized that these institutions, important from the point of view of security, do not have the resources, tools or knowledge to build an effective anti-fraud firewall. To this, let’s add communication and organizational problems, e.g. often several units simultaneously conduct the same matter, either without knowing it or not exchanging information and knowledge.

Piotr Bień

Plan B

How do you think you can fight cryptocurrency fraudsters?

Counteracting fraud is possible only after combining forces, knowledge and resources. You have to realize that neither entity nor any institution is able to do it on its own. But in order to be effective, it is necessary to clearly define the framework of these activities and the goal that is in our common interest.

Let’s assume, however, that the new regulations will make it difficult for you to act. Then what?

We are ready to operate on the Polish regulated market in terms of business, technology and procedures. However, should state institutions or banks make it difficult for us to operate, hire Polish specialists and account for taxes in Poland, we have prepared plans B and C. However, I hope that people who have a real impact on legal regulations read news from the world and understand that the Polish IT power ( top of the world), Polish capital together with appropriate regulations may allow Poland to be at the forefront of laying healthy foundations for the modern financial order. Transparent and honest.

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