Interview With Maria Carola – SteathEx
PIA spoke with Maria Carola, CMO of SteathEx, a cryptocurrency exchange that doesn’t require registration or KYC procedure. We talked about the benefits of a decentralized system, how to spot and avoid scammers, /and the future of crypto.
Private Internet Access: Thank you, Maria, for taking the time to speak with me today. Can you please tell me a little about StealthEx?
Maria Carola: StealthEX Is a Cryptocurrency exchange, and we were founded in 2018. I was not part of the team back then. I joined the company as the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) a little over two years ago.
The idea behind founding the company was to create a cryptocurrency exchange that doesn’t require registration or KYC procedures while signing up. So you could think about centralized exchanges like Binance, which is the most popular exchange right now; they all require some type of verification, registration, and holding funds on the platform. StealthEX is here to remove this need for a centralized entity of exchanging cryptocurrency.
PIA: What is the benefit of having a decentralized exchange?
MC: Well, the benefits are pretty obvious. The first is security – cryptocurrency as a concept should be decentralized. When it first started, people thought that we needed decentralized money so we could handle the funds by ourselves, and nobody would be here to control us doing so. Nobody’s going to be here to tell us what to do, block our cards (crypto wallets) or our accounts.
As time passed, more people joined crypto. Not only developers and geeks but also common people started using it as adoption grew. That created the need for decent services because it used to be very hard to handle crypto in general. To manage crypto, you have to do everything by yourself, such as writing a bunch of numbers and letters in your address on a piece of paper and running your own nodes.
Therefore, businesses started offering centralized exchanges, which can be good for newcomers as they allow you to own crypto and handle it easily. They do everything for you but have more requirements, and majority of the actions are done off-chain (not actually on the blockchain, but within the platform). So, if you send the money to an unknown address, like if you put another decimal, or instead of 1 you put 3 and that is a mistake, and if it’s on chain, your funds will go to some unknown address, and you’ll never get it back.
With centralized exchanges. You can just troubleshoot it and go to your support and say, “Okay, guys, I made a mistake in the address; please send my money back.” However, it means that somebody else is in control of your funds. And this is why we go the decentralized way.
The decentralized world brings us back to the notion of non-custodial crypto, that you should be the only owner of the funds. Nobody should tell you what to do, you can choose for yourself, and you don’t have to verify your identity for it. With non-custodial cryptocurrency wallets you manage the funds by yourself – you create the address and you manage the crypto.
A cryptocurrency exchange, like StealthEX allows you to use the infrastructure of centralized services, without actually having to use them. This is kind of like a VPN to be honest. You proxy all these exchanges that have massive liquidity pools and you can swap without having to disclose your identity or without having to trust somebody with your crypto. You just send the coins for a swap, and then automatically, the algorithm sends it back to you.
There is this movement in cryptocurrency that’s been around for a very long time, called Proof of Keys. It is the notion of having financial freedom and that you should be the only owner of your funds. And StealthEX, belong to this kind services allows users to do that.
PIA: What’s the flagship product of StealthEX?
MC: As a cryptocurrency exchange, we have crypto-to-crypto swaps. We support over 600 assets now, which is an insane number.
We also have Fiat to Crypto (fiat is traditional money) swaps that lets you buy crypto with dollars, euros, pounds, or the currency of your choice. It’s in the web interface and we’re working on the Mobile app. Hopefully, when this interview is published, the mobile app will already be launched.
PIA: What makes StealthEX stand out from other crypto exchanges?
MC: Depends what are you comparing it to. If you compare it to centralized crypto exchanges, then it’s the fact that we are decentralized and don’t hold the funds for the users. If you’re comparing us to the decentralized services, then it’s probably the number of supported assets, over 600.
We also have a low KYC frequency, and we have a really simple interface. People who come to crypto are often confused, and it’s a natural state when someone comes to something new. It’s important that they see an interface that is understandable. The service needs to be simple, and I believe, at least as a marketing manager, that we’re doing this job well.
PIA: What kind of secure cybersecurity or online security measures does StealthEX take to protect the users, especially if it’s a decentralized system?
MC: That’s a very good question, and I have been answering it for over six years for a variety of companies.
All these companies have one thing in common, which is very interesting from the point of cybersecurity – they don’t hold the users’ funds. This is what people are mostly afraid of because if you trust your money to somebody, a hacker can drop by, find a vulnerability, and just steal the funds.
In crypto, this happens painfully often. When centralized exchanges get hacked, all the money disappears into nothingness. With decentralized and non-custodial exchanges, we’re safe from this threat in particular, because we work in a system where a trader comes and creates an order for the exchange. Then we go to liquidity providers and check the availability for this particular exchange, and we automatically send the funds from their wallet, through the liquidity provider, back to their other wallet. So, there’s no stop in this system where the money can be stolen.
However, if we talk about hackers in particular, they can put our site down. But again, nothing will happen to the funds even when we are down – the process is already triggered, and it goes automatically without the need for our interface.
PIA: What about fraud protection?
MC: First of all, in crypto, there are lots of scammers. The space is super vicious; it’s always been, and I believe it always will be unless there is some kind of regulation. I personally believe that it’s next to impossible to stop.
There are cases in our support line, for example, when people try to pretend that they are the owner of some exchange, and they say, “oh, I never got the funds,” or something like that.
Then it’s on us to check that this is the person to who the wallet belongs, and we can ask for proof. They can send a dust transaction, which is a very small transaction, to prove that they own this address. Another option is sending a video of them logging into their wallet and doing some particular things like showing the address.
Then the second thing that is happening in crypto, and it’s happening pretty often, is money laundering. Obviously, with all criminal activities connected to cryptocurrency, we have to deal with that. There is a blacklist of addresses that all exchanges and liquidity providers share. These addresses are banned from the exchange and if they try to perform an exchange through any of the exchanges including us, it would be blocked immediately.
PIA: How do you see the crypto market evolving over the next few years? Will it stay a niche market or become more mainstream?
MC: I believe that people are talking about regulations again – this is one topic that everybody talks about, but it’s going anywhere fast, really. Right now, in some areas, the policy is getting stricter. Some users in the US are not particularly happy with what’s going on. Some countries have decided to ban cryptocurrencies or decided to restrict the usage/put a compulsory tax on them. As things like this continue to happen, we will have more unhappy people who might turn to decentralized side of crypto.
From the perspective of the people who are working in crypto full time, like myself and many of my colleagues, we think that, as bad as it sounds, the people who are in the governments are often just too old to get crypto and really dig into the information. Therefore, they can’t come up with a decent idea on how the regulations should work. However. I believe that as more time passes, there will be more of the questions of how to deal with crypto, and so there needs to be some kind of a solution. What kind of a solution it will be, I just don’t know yet.
As far as how crypto is evolving, I believe that we’re going to recover from the crypto winter. That will happen when the world becomes a little bit less insane. People tend to forget that the real world is also connected to finance and crypto. So, we can’t really say, “the world was burning, why is crypto not recovering?” Probably in a couple of years, the whole situation will improve if everything
becomes more stable and we get out of the pandemic. Then we’re going to see everything go green and go up.
I believe that this will help make crypto more mainstream. If we are going to have a new positive cycle where everything goes up again, then more people will be interested, and they will stop saying that Bitcoin is a bubble (it’s a joke!).