Monero Monitor

Episode 13: Over-the-counter Monero trading with LocalMonero.co

11 Sep 20170 Comments

On this week's episode, I talk with LocalMonero.co co-founder Alex about the launch of their new platform, how the service works, whether we can trust them, and a bit about who they are. We talk about why they are for now choosing to stay anonymous and the complications that can cause, and we talk about the Monero community's response to their service so far. We also get into why they chose to locate in Hong Kong, as well as a bit about Hong Kong's place in the cryptocurrency space. Listen in and then reach out to Alex about the service and me about the episode!

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Podcast Transcript:

~~ { Introductory Clip and Music } ~~

Mike: Hey everyone, and welcome to Episode 13 of the Monero Monitor Podcast. I’m Mike, you might know me as bigreddmachine, and today I’m talking with Alex, one of the co-founders of LocalMonero.co, a brand new company in the Monero space. How is it going, Alex?

Alex: Hi, Mike. It’s going quite well, quite well actually. Thank you for inviting us to your wonderful podcast, very happy to be here. 

Mike: Well, yeah, thanks for coming on. For the listeners, we had a bit of technical trouble getting this thing going, but we’re hearing each other now and we’re talking to each other. Okay, so I’ve got a bunch of questions about LocalMonero, but before we get to that, I know you kind of have maintained a little bit of anonymity, but I’d like to hear a little bit about yourself or about your co-founders as much as we can. So, who are you, are you known to the Monero community prior to like two weeks ago or is there anything about you you can say?

Alex: Well, if we were to reveal ourselves today, the Monero community would probably not even know who we are. It’s not like we’re famous members of the Monero community that just decided to stay anonymous and then we’re going to reveal ourselves, it’s like, “Oh, it’s this guy, oh, very happy to see you doing this!” No, no, no, we’re probably mostly unknown in the Monero community. We’re just a team of Monero enthusiasts based in Hong Kong, but you probably already read that on the About page of our website.

Essentially, we’ve been following Monero for a very long time; we’ve really fallen in love with Monero, as soon as we found out about it because it is essentially what cryptocurrency was supposed to be. Bitcoin, in my opinion at least is not really the solution or sort of the next step in the evolution of money because it lacks privacy, right? And people don’t think about this, right? For some reason, people don’t think about this and they just saw Bitcoin, knowing that it doesn’t have the privacy, but just ran with it because it was the first “cryptocurrency” and I use that term in quotes when I apply it to Bitcoin.

Mike: You sound a little bit like Howard Chu here. 

Alex: Well, yeah, me and Howard agree on that, that this is really not a cryptocurrency, it’s a blockchain-based currency, but it’s… People that get into Bitcoin, the ones that really get into Bitcoin, not just the speculators, they like to talk about, “Oh, this is like the next step in the evolution of money, this is where we’re going.” It used to be clams, then it used to be silver or gold, then it became fiat, and the next step, that’s Bitcoin, right? That’s where we’re going.

But, I mean, you can’t look at one of those clams that we used to use as money and you can’t by looking at that clam see the list of all the people who ever used the clam before you, right? And the same for gold and the same for fiat, but with Bitcoin, every single Bitcoin is traceable, its entire lifespan is traceable and that is just… It is not viable. 

Mike: Yeah, I mean there was a story that came out a couple of weeks ago that basically said the IRS in the United States can track like half of all transactions or something like that. Now, that doesn’t mean they can track half of all Bitcoins, but if they can track half of all transactions, that’s a big deal, and they’re able to do that because they have the power of subpoena to be able to talk to any American exchange and find out, “Okay, we know these Bitcoins went here and there and wherever, who is this person at the end that we know is tied to your exchange?” Or whatever, so yeah.

Alex: You know, Mike, I think they’re holding back, I think they can track probably almost all of the transactions if they wanted to, I think.

Mike: Yeah, yeah, for sure. The first 50% is probably the easy 50% to do which is why that’s the number they quote. So, you know, I understand what you and Howard say when you mean that Bitcoin isn’t really a cryptocurrency and you guys are kind of making a point that without privacy it’s not really fully cryptographic. But, there is something to be said– 

Alex: That’s not what I’m saying; I’m saying without privacy it’s not viable as the next step in the evolution of money. I do not see humanity moving from fiat to a cryptocurrency that has all of its transactions and wallet balance publicly available, publicly visible. That can apply either to Bitcoin or any other sort of maybe contender to Bitcoin like Litecoin that also has all its transactions visible. If we were to move on to the next step in the evolution of the monetary system, if it’s going to be a cryptocurrency, it has to be one that is fully private such as Monero. I’m not saying that Monero is necessarily going to be that next step, it could be something else, it could be that the Monero team will somehow get lazy or whatever, and a better coin comes out, but if we are to move to that next step, it has to be a private cryptocurrency. 

Mike: Yeah, I think I fundamentally agree with you and I also agree that, you know, Monero right now might be the best option, but there might be something down the road, I’ve said that on this show before. The other thing though is, there is a value in having a publicly-auditable, fully-transparent ledger. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the ledger that should be the transactional every day ledger. 

Alex: Exactly.

Mike: I would also argue maybe the transactional, every day, buy your $20 purchases, $5 purchases, maybe that doesn’t even need to be on a blockchain itself, but can be settled to a blockchain, sort of like a Lightning Network which would give you essentially the same privacy as using Visa for instance. Which is not fully private, but it’s mostly private and private in the ways that should matter to consumers. 

So, I think it’s important that we continue to work on trying to find these solutions and find the best way possible, and you know, part of that is to ask question about how can Monero be improved and what are its strengths and weaknesses because it’s not the perfect solution, but it probably is the best solution we’ve got today. Okay, so I think I can understand what you’re saying a little better there. Okay, so have you been in Bitcoin for a while then? 

Alex: Well, yeah, I’ve been following Bitcoin almost since its inception. I mean, I was a little late to the whole you can buy a pizza for 100,000 Bitcoins, or what was that story, was it a million Bitcoins he bought a pizza for? 

Mike: It was two pizzas and a coke, so roughly $50, US dollars for 10,000 Bitcoin.

Alex: 10,000 Bitcoins, yeah, I entered the Bitcoin scene a little bit after that. I think the first time I found out about Bitcoin, I think it was worth around a dollar, maybe, probably, maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less, I may be misremembering here. But yeah, pretty early on and in terms of Monero, we’ve been following Monero since probably like, its cost was around 40 cents or something, I think it was 50 cents. 

Mike: Okay, so some time in maybe 2015, or early 2016. Yeah.

Alex: Yeah, mid-2015 I’d say, mid to late 2015, early 2016, that would be accurate. 

Mike: There was kind of a long winter where… You know when Monero first got started, I’ve been kind of following it since maybe the second or third week it existed, I didn’t follow it close enough to fully appreciate all of the crap that was going on with thankful_for_today and so as a result I kind of got confused, what’s the right website I should be going to and whatever else. So, I kind of just put it aside for a little while because I was busy in my life. But then I got back more into it in early 2015 or maybe March or something 2015, and there was this really long period where Monero had started out, I want to say a few dollars, $5, $6, $7, something like that and had gone all the way down to like bellow a dollar. 

And when it got bellow a dollar, I remember reading people writing posts about like, “Oh, this is terrible”, whatever else. And then it sort of just fluctuated between like a dollar and 50 cents, maybe even getting as low as like 30 cents for a while for a long time, a long time. And I don’t know if there were people that held their $7 purchases from way back in the beginning all the way through that period, if they were, they certainly, they’re back in the green now. 

Alex: Oh, yeah.

Mike: But even a year ago, well, not quite a year ago, maybe 15 months ago, Monero was still under like 2 bucks, which is crazy to think about that in that short a time it can grow so much, but then you look at the community and you look at the code base, you consider the fact that it wasn’t that long ago where Monero’s blockchain basically maxed out your computer’s ram, and it’s come a long way, and that’s a part of why people have started to appreciate it. 


QS 10:29 Mike: Okay, so I guess I have like one question before we really talk about anything. You tell me your name is Alex, it might be, it might not be, I don’t really know, you’ve already kind of talked about how like if you did reveal your identity, nobody would really be like, “Oh, that’s who they are.” Or anything like that, but why are you choosing to be anonymous in the first place and is there a scenario where you may decide to tell us who you are? 

Alex: Yeah. We choose to be anonymous for a variety of reasons, most of which are personal for the time being at least. I mean, being anonymous isn’t really new in the cryptocurrency industry. The founder of ShapeShift, I believe his name is Erik, I forget his last name. 

Mike: Yeah, Erik Voorhees.

Alex: Right, Erik Voorhees was anonymous for the initial time period of ShapeShift. There’s a lot of reasons you want to be anonymous at least for the initial time period, right, while you’re still sort of vulnerable to attack. While you’re still sort of just trying to get your feet up and just trying to hold on and make sure everything runs fine and you know, maybe… Let’s just say it’s better for everyone if we just stayed anonymous for the initial time period. We will certainly reveal ourselves if everything will be fine. If the business becomes profitable, because it’s not profitable yet. If the business does become profitable, we will certainly reveal ourselves, we have no problem revealing ourselves. 

And we want to actually, we really want to de-anonymize ourselves as soon as we can because we want to be part of the Monero community’s sort of maturation. We want Monero to become mainstream, not just some sort of “privacy coin”, that’s just for a very specific reason. And of course if you read all the news articles about the specific reason, it’s always like, “Oh, it’s darknet markets, oh, it’s tax evasion.” And maybe they’re even right, maybe for now Monero is primarily used for those reasons, but in our belief, it’s just a stage of development. Just like Bitcoin, for a very long time, first Bitcoin was just a speculative asset. Then Bitcoin became sort of the currency of choice for darknet markets and tax evasion purposes. 

Mike: Gambling, yeah.

Alex: Gambling, all of the sort of black market uses and then Bitcoin eventually became mainstream and now it’s not looked upon as just a harbor for criminals. We feel like Monero is going through the same stages right now and we understand if we stay anonymous it’s not good for the Monero community. It’s like, “Oh, look at this, just another Monero business where you don’t know who the owners are, you don’t know what they’re doing, yadda, yadda.” 


QS 14:28 Mike: I’m not even sure it’s that, though. It’s interesting you bring up Erik Voorhees because I had forgotten that ShapeShift started that way, I mean, yes, it did and you’re a 100% right that nobody knew who started it and then after a couple of months Erik said, “Oh, yeah, this is me.” And people knew who Erik was. I had forgotten about that so it’s interesting you bring it up, but I kind of wonder if it’s a bit of a chicken and an egg problem for you where not necessarily an issue for the Monero community, but an issue for you, where like, how do you gain user trust if people don’t know who they’re even trusting? 

And so it might be that you kind of hit as wall, unless you reveal who you are, there’s just gonna be certain people that won’t choose to use your service, but you know, I don’t know. I’m sure you thought about it, I’m sure you continue to think about that, and so I’m just trying to give some feedback there. 

Alex: No, no, no, you’re right, you’re right. I get your point, and yes, we also thought about that, and yes it is kind of a chicken and egg problem. However, some users will choose to try us out even if we don’t reveal ourselves. Actually, there’s a lot of services that use Monero, that also don’t reveal exactly the people who are behind the service and people still choose to use them. Now, we understand that by revealing who we are, we probably will increase the degree of trust from our users, but for now, we choose to stay anonymous and for now, people are using us, and we are gaining trust.

We’ve only been online for like a week and half, but we are getting a lot of users and we are getting trades and people are depositing money, and people seem to want to give us a shot and we’re very, very grateful for the users wanting to give us a shot and we are doing everything we can to roll out features that are requested, to make sure the site is stable, and to just keep everyone happy. We’re trying to be very active on all sorts of outlets like social media, we’re active on reddit, we’re active on Twitter, we’re active on, even Facebook. 

I mean, Bitcoin Talk or any other sort of obscure forum, I’m not saying Bitcoin Talk is obscure, I’m saying other forums that may be obscure. We’re doing everything we can to build as much trust as we can, to kind of solve that chicken and egg problem by first attracting the users that are willing to take a sort of, I wouldn’t say a risk, because I mean, to me, it’s obvious that we have no reason to run off with everyone’s money because why would we do that? We’re not doing anything illegal, right? 

We’re completely legal and exit scam, in my opinion at least is only a viable strategy for a business that’s operating outside of the law. You know, that’s why darknet markets are so sort of trigger-happy when it comes to exit scamming, right? Because there comes a time when a darknet market feels that, “Oh, the FBI is closing in or whoever else is closing in and we better get out of here before they arrest us and confiscate our money” and etc. And they just take the money and run, that’s why they do the exit scam, right? 

In our case, there is no FBI after us and there is never going to be unless there’s some kind of new regulations that somehow apply worldwide and we have no other jurisdiction to re-establish our company in, but we don’t want to be just some sort of shady platform for darknet market vendors to cash out. We want to be a legitimate business and in the long run, in the long run, exit scams are the most stupid strategy you could think of. 

I mean, LocalBitcoins right now, I think their weekly trade volume, if I remember correctly, I may be wrong, but if I remember correctly, their weekly trade volume is around 100,000,000 US-dollar equivalent of Bitcoins, right? I mean, no exit scam can rival these numbers; it would be retarded, idiotic, completely… I mean, why would we do that, we are going to be much better off if we just run a legitimate business, make sure that everyone is happy and in the end, the community will reward us with profits that are astronomically higher than any exit scam that we may potentially want to conduct. 

Mike: Yeah, so, I mean, don’t get me wrong. That’s what I’m rooting for, I’m rooting for you all to be wildly successfully, but I mean, there are plenty of examples of exit scams that weren’t illicit companies, they were just simply people who saw an opportunity, were able to on-board a bunch of users and then exited because quite frankly it’s easier to pocket 5% of what you might be able to make if you have to work really hard for a number of years, than to work really hard for a number of years. So, I think that’s where some of that comes from.

Now, I don’t want to get hung up on that. I think it really just comes down to you’ll overtime gain trust and prove your service is something that’s legitimate and if it does get to the transaction volume with LocalBitcoins, then yeah, I mean, it becomes a point where you have so much momentum under you that you might as well just keep it going. So, you know, I ask the question, but I’m not trying to bully you into anything or anything like that. It’s an important question to make sure that you’ve at least considered.

Alex: No, no, absolutely, you’re absolutely right. And it’s very correct of you to ask this question and I’m sure a lot of people would’ve wanted you to ask this question; so of course, this question had to be asked. Now, with regards to other services that weren’t operating outside of the law and still chose to run an exit scam, I mean, unfortunately, I can’t speak for them. What I said was my opinion and we truly believe Monero to be the sort of replacement for Bitcoin, that’s not really accurate… 

But we expect Monero to be The Cryptocurrency. And we’re in here for the long run. Unless of course something better comes up, in that case, we’ll switch to something better, but so far it seems there is no one even close to Monero. So, establishing this business for us is a very long term decision and we intend to stick to it and we believe that our long-term rewards will outweigh any possible exit scam that we may want to do. So, as I said, I don’t know the reasons why other companies that were operating within the law chose to exit scam, maybe they had something going. 

Mike: Well, it’s easy. 

Alex: I get what you’re saying, they didn’t want to work, whatever. But maybe it’s not as simple as that, maybe they had something else going on that we don’t know about.

Mike: Yeah, but if we’re gonna go down that rabbit hole, then maybe you have something else going on that we don’t know about.

Alex: True, absolutely true. 

Mike: Maybe you’re a psychopath and you’re the nicest guy in the world who also somehow steals money from grandmas or something. You know what I mean, that’s like the path where there’s as never-ending rabbit hole you can go down because there’s no way to ever know, right?

Alex: Fair enough, fair enough.

Mike: Okay, let’s talk about your actual service, because I don’t think there is any point in us going on about this other thing fi we don’t get to what you guys are actually doing which is a really cool thing.

Alex: Sure.


QS 23:20 Mike: So, some people are probably very familiar with LocalBitcoins and so they can probably come up with an idea in their head about what your company is. Some people have probably already been to your website, but can you give like an ELI5, like the simple version of what is LocalMonero, what’s the problem that it solves? And then how does it differ from the stuff that already is out there?

Alex: All right. Well, essentially, whenever you want to get some Monero, the main sort of path that you take is getting Bitcoin first through whatever means possible, whether it’s an exchange or maybe it’s LocalBitcoins or maybe it’s from a friend and then you would take those Bitcoins and go to maybe ShapeShift or to an exchange, deposit those Bitcoins and get Monero in return for that. So, that’s one choice that you have.

Mike: Yeah, I mean there are some very small ways to get it for cash, I think on Kraken there’s a limited market where you can get it for euros.

Alex: That’s what I wanted to say, right, right, that’s what I wanted to say, another choice you have is you can go on Kraken and you can deposit actually fiat on Kraken, but they do require ID verification, they do require proof of residence, if I remember correctly as do any other exchange that deals with fiat deposits, they all have the same sort of KYC/AML policies with regards to ID verification and proof of address. So, there is that. 

Then, there are other websites that are out there like for example MoneroForCash.com, that’s one website. I think it’s run by a Monero developer if I remember correctly, I may be wrong on this.

Mike: Yeah, I’m not sure who runs that, there’s MoneroDirect, that’s run by Hyc.

Alex: That’s Hyc, yeah, defunct because of OkPay. Right, so that’s not operational anymore unfortunately. So, MoneroForCash.com, it’s kind of like a place where you publish a listing and you just hope someone responds, it doesn’t have any escrow capabilities, it doesn’t have any–

Mike: Yeah, it’s kind of like a Craigslist for selling and buying Monero or something.

Alex: Well, Craigslist is a very sketchy place, I think by saying it’s kind of a Craigslist, kind of does, it’s insulting. 

Mike: Well, just in functionality. 

Alex: Okay, fair enough, in functionality, fair enough. Yeast, I guess you could say that. So, you have that as an option or you could just find someone in real life and asks them to give you some Monero in exchange for whatever, but that’s obviously a very difficult pathway to take. Most people don’t know any other people who own Monero. So, what LocalMonero does is essentially, it’s a person-to-person trading platform, right?

So, let’s say you have some Monero that you acquired from whatever way you acquired them and you want to sell them to other people and let’s say you want to buy some Monero, you can go on LocalMonero.co, and you can search for advertisements made by other people in your country, in your area, using the payment method that you like, like PayPal or maybe national bank transfer or maybe a postal order or whatever you want really, and see if there are any other people that are currently offering to sell you their Monero for the payment method that you choose in the area and the country that you choose. 

And if such people exist, then you can simply open a trade with them. And our platform essentially facilitates that, we take the coins, we take the Monero rather from the seller’s balance, so the seller has to deposit Monero on his LocalMonero balance, we take the seller’s Monero, the amount that is required for the trade, we hold them in escrow and then the seller gives you the payment details, so for example if the seller is offering to sell Monero in exchange for PayPal, they would give you their PayPal email address for example or if’s maybe a national bank transfer, they would give you their account details or if it’s a postal order, they would give you whatever is necessary for a postal order, etc. 

And then you conduct the payment and then once the seller sees that you have successfully conducted they payment, the seller presses the release Monero button, release funds and LocalMonero releases the funds from escrow to the buyer’s LocalMonero wallet, and then the buyer can do whatever he wants, he or she wants with that balance, either withdraw it or maybe conduct another trade and sell their Monero for a higher price or whatever  you would normally do with Monero, whatever you’d need it for. So, yeah, that’s essentially it. 

If there is some sort of dispute that may happen, so for example sometimes there may be a case where they buyer transfers the money, but the seller doesn’t get the money for some reason, maybe the bank froze the account, maybe the seller didn’t receive the full amount, right? The buyer didn’t send the full amount…

Mike: Any number of things, yeah.

Alex: Any number of things can happen, right? In that case, either the buyer or the seller may want to initiate a dispute if during the communications the buyer and the seller couldn’t resolve the disagreement by themselves, either party can call for a LocalMonero admin, for one of our staff to come in and mediate the dispute. So, what we would do then is we would come in and we would take a look at what has happened, right? We’d ask the seller for the account details and maybe some screenshots and maybe some documents, whatever is necessary, every party essentially provides as much evidence as they can in order to back their position of either, for example, the buyer saying, “I made the payment and it was the full amount” or maybe the seller saying, “I haven’t received the payment.” 

So, each party provides the evidence and the LocalMonero staff examines the evidence and attempts to mediate this dispute in the fairest way possible. So, if the evidence is overwhelmingly in the favor of the seller, we cancel the trade, the funds go back into the seller’s balance. If the evidence is in the favor of the buyer, then we release the funds from escrow onto the buyer’s wallet. So, that’s essentially it. 


QS 30:46 Mike: Yeah, so if there was ever like a stalemate in that process, what would… It seems like the only option would be to split the funds 50-50 and say they both lose a little bit, what do you do?  

Alex: I mean, well you can’t really… We’re talking in hypotheticals here, I don’t really think there is such a thing as a stalemate, unless of course both parties don’t provide any evidence at all, but I don’t think that can ever happen. I don’t think there is a point in discussing this.

Mike: Yeah, okay. So, do you then have a built-in wallet that people access on your website and that’s what they’re trading with or they’re using their normal Monero GUI wallet? 

Alex: Yeah, they have to deposit their funds on our LocalMonero wallet and we use the latest and greatest technology, we use integrated payment addresses, which you may or may not have heard of, do you know what they are? 

Mike: Yeah, yeah. 

Alex: Of course.

Mike: So, for any of the listeners, an integrated address basically takes your normal address and then it applies a payment ID in a way that kind of combines it into the address, so then somebody who is used to in just Bitcoin just copying and pasting an address down can do the same thing here with Monero, but then it also tags this identifier, and the only person who’s ever really able to see the identifier is the person who needs to be able to know where funds came from. So, I mean that’s a big improvement. Monero didn’t use to have that, but then it was invented, but nobody really used it and now people are finally using it which is good.

Alex: Yeah, most of the exchanges at least as far as I know, Kraken and Poloniex and whoever else are still using the legacy style payment IDs where it’s like, you have to input two fields, you have to input the address and you have to input the payment ID, that’s two separate fields. And that’s less private than the integrated address and it’s much more prone to user error. A lot of people simply forget to specify their payment ID or they’re just confused, like why do I need to input two things, what’s the second thing I need to input? It’s confusing for people. 

And so, the integrated address solves this and the privacy issue of the payment ID being viewable. So, we use that, we don’t use the old style. Now, ideally, of course, in order to achieve a sort of a trustless type of platform, we would have to use multi-sig. Multiple signature wallets, currently we don’t use them and right now we’re looking into it and we’re not sure if it’s scalable, we’re not sure if it’s viable to be used in our platform, in our particular use case, in you know, the application flow that we have. We’re not exactly sure how it’s gonna work. We’re still looking into it.

Mike: Yeah, you might need to run individual instances of wallets which might be an issue.

Alex: Exactly. That’s very, very unscalable, if that is in fact the case, we’d have to run an individual wallet for every single user. That can get really costly. 

Mike: And it might be that you could have a separate tier of service where you say, “Okay, we’re gonna do this with multi-sig, but it’s gonna be a 5% charge or something.” 

Alex: Exactly, exactly, Mike, that’s exactly the idea we’ve been thinking about actually with regards to multi-sig. But it’s still in the sort of research stage, we’re still not sure if…

Mike: Yeah, I mean, the technology is still not even fully vetted. I think right now there is n-of-n multi-sig, but it sounds to me like you would want something like 2-of-3 multi-sig for what you’re doing and I don’t know that that’s fully vetted yet.

Alex: Exactly.

Mike: I know it’s on the way, but it’s not quite ready.

Alex: Right, so if it does become ready and if it’s scalable, we will absolutely implement it site-wide for the entirety of the website. If it’s unscalable, if it’s like really messy, we’re probably gonna have to think about doing something like a premium tier where you pay extra and then you get that to offset the cost that we’re gonna have to take on if we implement the multi-sig.


QS 35:57 Mike: Yeah. Okay, so it sounds like if you’re the one selling Monero you would need to use your wallet. If I’m the one buying Monero, does that still deal with your wallet or is it something where like the person or your company, or the person or whatever sends the Monero to a wallet that could be outside, could be on your phone or could be the GUI wallet or something like that? Do both ends of the trade need to have a wallet on your account? 

Alex: As soon as a user creates an account on LocalMonero, they get their own sort of LocalMonero wallet and all the transactions that happen, happen between these LocalMonero wallets. 

Mike: Okay, so then you would do a withdrawal in order to get everything if you wanted to. 

Alex: Exactly, exactly. 


QS 36:25 Mike: Okay. So, now we’ve kind of been talking about what I would deem like the not-in-person trades, but I think at least from your website, it looked like there’s also a way to do an in-person trade where somebody literally just hands cash out, is that right?

Alex: Yeah, just like LocalBitcoins, you can trade your Monero online or you can trade it offline. If you choose cash as a payment method, then it’s a bit of a different flow. I mean, the basic flow is the same, you respond to an advertisement and you initiate communications and you talk about where you want to meet up, at what time and the funds get escrowed and then they get released from escrow. It’s essentially the same thing. 

Mike: But in that scenario, why do they need to be escrowed because it would seem to me like I could, maybe not right today, because there’s not a good mobile wallet, but when there is a mobile wallet, it seems like I could just have my Monero on my phone, show up at Starbucks and they could pull out their phone with their wallet and I could just send it to them and we wouldn’t need to use the escrow service at all because we’re sitting there and are in Starbucks and could cause a scene if something goes wrong. So, what’s the escrow purpose in that particular case? 

Alex: Okay, in that particular case, the escrow purpose is for reputation building. If you conduct the transaction out of the LocalMonero platform, if you just show up with your wallet and then you just transfer the money from your own wallet to the buyer’s wallet, then the trade flow will not be completed on the website and if the trade flow is not completed on the website, you can’t leave feedback for each other. You can’t increase each-other’s reputation.

Mike: There’s not some way that both users could just log in and be like, “Yeah, it worked.” And just click a little check box.

Alex: No, unless a transfer of funds from LocalMonero wallet to another LocalMonero wallet, through a trade has been conducted, there cannot be a change in reputation. There cannot be leaving feedback. 

Mike: Okay, interesting. So, do you have a mobile app then, so that in this type of case it’s easier to do?

Alex: The site itself is responsive and adaptive; at least it’s responsive and adaptive enough for people to be able to use it. So, while we don’t have a standalone native mobile application right now, we’re working on it, trust me. But right now, for now people can just use their mobile browsers and login to LocalMonero and it’s gonna be usable.

Mike: And I guess in this scenario it’s not like you’re gonna need to do QR core scanning or anything ‘cause you already know who you’re sending it to and that can all just be tracked on the platform probably.

Alex: Exactly. In the case of it being a meetup, all you’ll need to do is just open the trade page and just press the release funds button, so you don’t need a native app for that, it’s workable with what we have right now.


QS 40:35 Mike: Okay, that makes sense. So, now if somebody is gonna do one of these in-person trades, is there any recommendation you would give, maybe somebody who has never done it with LocalBitcoins doesn’t know the precautions they need to take. Is there anything you would recommend? 

Alex: Well, obviously, you want to do it in a public place. You want to make sure that all the exits are covered with your bodyguards, just kidding, just kidding. You want to make sure…

Mike: You just need to have bigger and more bodyguards than the other person.

Alex: Right, right. Just bring your guns, bring your friends and just gang up on the guy and make sure that he hands over his phone and his keys and you’re good to go.

Mike: And then leave a nice, kind, five-star review afterwards.

Alex: Right, right. No, but to be serious, meet in a public place, make sure that you see the guy actually has the funds, if you’re the seller. Make him show you the cash, if you’re the seller, bring one of those counterfeit bill scanners to make sure that it’s not a counterfeit bill because it if it is a counterfeit bill and you release the funds, there is nothing we can do, it’s too late, right. There is nothing we can do, so bring one of those scanners with you. And scan every single bill. Look out for sketchy characters. 

I mean, if the guy that wants to buy Monero off of you or you want to buy Monero from, seems like he’s like a bad person, I mean, I know this is very abstract, what is a bad person, what is bad, what is good, just try not to deal with. 

Mike: You get a feeling at times.

Alex: Right, you get a feeling that something is not right. Or maybe you’re getting a feeling that the money will be used or the Monero will be used for elicit purposes, in which case you should not conduct that transaction. 

Mike: Yeah, I’ll actually kind of step in there and just say that, if somebody does, if you’re sending Monero to somebody and somebody does say, “I need this to go buy drugs on…” whatever the darknet market is at the time. That’s when you just say like, “Nope, no thanks.” Because especially in the United States you will get arrest.

Alex: It may even be a sting operation, it may be an undercover police officer who says, “Hey, man, I just need to buy some drugs, man, just give me some of that Monero, man.” And you’re like: “All right, whatever.” You give him the Monero and then he arrest you because, hey man, I just said I’m gonna use it for drugs and you still gave it to me, so you’re under arrest.

Mike: Yeah, that’s been held up in court, there is no doubt about it, that is something that would be considered facilitating an illegal drug trade and yeah, you don’t want to do that. 

Alex: Exactly. So, we want to stay legal on all fronts.

Mike: Yeah, and there is no reason your service can’t do that. Your service should, it can be very above board and I applaud you for trying to promote that. 

Alex: So, essentially, just be carefully, don’t be stupid. Great advice, Alex, don’t be stupid. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is make sure you’re in a public place, use those counterfeit bill scanners, don’t deal with sketchy characters, you should be fine. You should be fine.


QS 44:29 Mike: Okay, so while we’re kind of on this topic of people being concerned about themselves or whatever else a lot of people in Monero are very cautious of what types of information people collect from them. When somebody signs up on your site I imagine an email probably helps, but maybe isn’t necessary. What kind of data do you track and collect from people?

Alex: Yeah, we don’t require emails during signup at all. So, it’s completely optional. Just like reddit, you can just register without an email. Now, if you lose your password, there is nothing we can do to help you.

Mike: And that obviously helps. 

Alex: Right, that’s where the email helps. And we also won’t be able to send you any notifications, any email notifcatio0ns if you don’t specify an email. So, if you’re a seller for example and you sell Monero and you don’t have an email available for notifications, you’re gonna have a bad time. You’re gonna have to be on the site all the time and just wait for the web notifications to pop up whenever there is a new trade or whenever there is a new message. So, email notifications really help for sellers that just don’t want to be on the site all the time, so that’s why you might want to use email. 

We never share the email with anyone for any reason. We don’t publish it, we have absolutely no reason to use your email for any other purpose other than help restore your password or notify you about trades or whatever.

Mike: How about names or IP addresses or anything like that?

Alex: Nothing like that, no IP addresses are stored ever, we don’t even, and we don’t log them at all. The only instance is when you open our main page or you open the post an ad page, your country is automatically located from your IP address and you know just for your convenience you have the country drop down set for you to be the country of your IP address. If you’re opening the site from the United States, you will see that as soon as you open the home page, it already pre-selected the United States for you and it’s showing you trades from within United States.

Mike: And I imagine that’s doing that client-side pinging some kind of API?

Alex: No, actually it’s doing that server-side because if you do it client-side it’s way, way slower than if we do it server-side, but we don’t log the IP, we just use it for reverse geo-coding the address, sorry, not the address, the country, and as soon as we get the country, we just use that to set the dropdown of the initial loading of the page. That’s all we do, we don’t log it in any way.

Mike: Yeah, I guess if somebody is opening up a trade and they’re looking for somebody to meet a trade in a certain area, then you probably have that information anyway, there is as little bit of location information there, but not a lot. And it’s sort of like–

Alex: The location information is only whatever is necessary for the platform to operate, nothing extra. 

Mike: Without it you can’t do this anyway.

Alex: Exactly, exactly. It is impossible for us to run a platform that would allow local trades if we didn’t write down the location of the trade.


QS 47:53 Mike: Can you tell us a little bit about the user trust rating system? You kind alluded to it before, but what does a typical entry took like that would either promote or demote somebody’s trust rating? 

Alex: Okay. So, whenever a trade has been conducted on the website, you can leave feedback for your trading partner. The buyer can leave feedback for the seller and the seller can leave feedback for the buyer. And the feedback, initially, if the trade volume between the buyer and the seller is less than 2 Monero, then the feedback will have a status of being unconfirmed which means it won’t show up if someone decides to open your user page and take a look at your feedback. 

If the feedback you received has been as a result of trades where your total trade volume with that particular trading partner is less than 2 Monero, that feedback will not show up and it will not affect your feedback score.

Mike: Okay, is that like a protection against somebody just doing a bunch of little tiny trades in order to build up a fake rep?

Alex: Precisely. That is exactly what it is for, to prevent feedback farming.

Mike: What prevents me and a friend from getting together and just doing very large trades back and forth, but basically it’s just our own money that we’re just swapping back and forth with each other? 

Alex: Yeah, you can do that, nothing prevents you from that. It is impossible to completely prevent feedback farming. 

Mike: So, is part of the trust system then the number of people that trust you in addition to number of times that you completed a trade? 

Alex: Every time that you get confirmed feedback, it can be visible on your page and it affects your feedback score. Now, your feedback score is essentially the number of confirmed trades you have divided by the number of positive feedback that you have, or actually it’s the other way around. The positive feedback divided by the trades. So, if you have positive feedback on all of the trades that have been used to count that feedback, you will have a 100% feedback score which means there is not a single trade where someone was somehow dissatisfied by whatever happened in the trade. 

If for some reason there is negative feedback that will impact your feedback score. So, instead of a 100% feedback score, you’ll have a 97 or 95 or 50 or whatever. And for example, if you’re like a big volume trader that maybe uses a reversible payment method like PayPal, so PayPal can be reversed, the transaction can actually be reversed, you’re probably going to want to only deal with buyers that have a lot of positive feedback because otherwise, a low feedback score of a buyer may indicate that that buyer in particular has reversed any of the payments that they have made in order to complete a trade. 

So, one thing I forgot to mention that is important to this point is that the feedback can be changed afterwards, you can change the feedback after the trade has been completed, this is exactly to prevent a case where the buyer uses PayPal, pays the seller, the seller gets the money and then leaves positive feedback and then on the next day, the buyer reverses the PayPal payment and lo and behold, the payment has been reversed, but the feedback is still up. So, in order for us to prevent that situation, feedback can be changed after the trade has already been completed. 

If for some reason, like for example the PayPal payment was reversed, the seller wants to change the feedback, they can do that after the trade and that way the buyer can’t just sort of scam people into giving him or her positive feedback and then just being impervious to any retribution from reversing the feedback. 

Mike: I think that’s a good feature. Now, one thing, I’m just kind of spitballing here, haven’t really given this much thought, but it seems to me like the way you described this, if I made like 10 transactions with one person, that that’s gonna be valued the same as if I had made 10 transactions, one each with 10 different people. But to me it would seem like the person who did it with 10 different people and got positive feedback from 10 different people one time each should be more trusted than the person who got 10 positive feedbacks from one person.

Alex: You’re right. And that’s how it is. It is one feedback per person. It’s not one feedback per trade. 

Mike: Ah, okay, okay, that makes sense. 

Alex: Right.

Mike: So, that helps prevent people from being able to game the system. 

Alex: That’s exactly right. 

Mike: I mean, I’m sure there are ways people could still game it, but at least–

Alex: Of course.

Mike: And that’s part of why when somebody lists an offer, you’re not gonna see something that’s one cent above current spot market price, you’re gonna see something that’s maybe 5% above because… I mean, I’ve talked with LocalBitcoin traders and basically they say, if you haven’t been scammed yet, it’s just coming, at some point you will get scammed and you just have to build that into your pricing system. Cool. 


QS 54:06 Mike: Can we talk a little more about the escrow system? I like the escrow system because it’s kind of mean to try and help protect users from being scammed by other users, but isn’t there still an issue as soon as you introduce an escrow system, now you’re a really centralized point of failure? Not even ‘cause you’re exit scamming, but maybe you get hacked or maybe something happens and you’re compromised by a government or by an individual? Is there anything that can be done about that? 

Alex: Yeah, yeah of course. There’s lots of things that can be done about that. Of course, it is impossible to guarantee that you will never be hacked, right? I mean, it’s you against the world, right? Every single hacker will be after you if you’re dealing with cryptocurrencies.

Mike: Especially something like Monero where–

Alex: Especially something like that, that’s untraceable.

Mike: Yeah, exactly.

Alex: Right, of course, of course, and state actors as you said, maybe the FBI wants the database or whatever or they want to shut down the service because they see it as a threat to what they think constitutes as national security, whatever reason, yeah. I get your point. One thing that can be done to prevent sort of catastrophic failure is having a system of hot and cold wallets. So, essentially you don’t have all the users’ money in a hot wallet that can be stolen. 

You’d have only as much money as is necessary in the so-called hot wallet, and then you have all the rest in the so-called cold wallet that is inaccessible by anyone. That is, you know, maybe a paper wallet that is only accessed through an air-gapped computer or whatever other security measure you might want to implement to make it completely isolated from the internet or from any hackers. 

And of course the hacker will still be able to steal whatever is in the hot wallet, but whatever is in the hot wallet is a very small percentage of the total money that is held in escrow for example, so of course you cannot fully prevent the damage, there is going to be some damage take by the hot wallet being stolen, but it’s easy to bounce back because the low percentage of the funds being in the hot wallet allows you to easily re-compensate whatever may be lost.

I mean, it can even be done completely transparently. The hot wallet can get stolen and the LocalMonero will just replace whatever funds have been stolen with whatever we have in our cold wallet and we’ll just…

Mike: Right, and I imagine that has to be part of whatever your cost is. We haven’t actually talked about what your fee is, but part of how you set the fee is probably being able to make sure you have a reserve for that. 

Alex: Absolutely.


QS 57:41 Mike: So, what is your all’s fee? 

Alex: We have a 1% fee just like LocalBitcoins. We have a 1% fee for the user that posts the advertisement. So, if you’re a seller and you want to sell Monero, when I say buyer and seller, I always mean buyer of Monero, seller of Monero, so if you’re a buyer and you respond to an ad that’s posted by a seller, you don’t pay any fee. The only one that pays the fee is the one that posted the ad. Whether it’s a buyer, sometimes it’s a buy advertisement, sometimes it’s a sell advertisement and whoever is the poster of the advertisement, that’s the party that pays the 1% fee. Not the other party. 

Mike: Okay, so then kind of just wrapping up that little bit, it would seem to me that maybe the recommendation for somebody worried about any of this or even worried about, you know, can they trust you not to exit scam, basically the best way to minimize their trust in you, basically just to only have funds on the exchange that they plan on actually trading, I mean, does that seem fair? 

Alex: Yes. 

Mike: Don’t use yours like an actual wallet in other words. 

Alex: No, no, absolutely not. We do not recommend anyone to store their Monero or any other cryptocurrency on exchanges.

Mike: Yeah, treat it like you would any other exchange basically. 

Alex: Just like any other exchange. It’s a bad idea. You’re gonna have a bad time, okay, if you keep all your money on the exchanges, you know? Anything can happen. And I’m not just talking about LocalMonero; anything can happen even if it’s like biggest, most trusted, super-secure, industry-moving giant.

Mike: The most trusted name in trustlessness.

Alex: Exactly. Even they can be hacked or their datacenter catches on fire, or whatever, anything can happen. So, never, never have more than what is absolutely necessary for whatever you’re doing on an exchange, whether it’s us or any other exchange. 

Mike: Okay, so you guys are headquartered in Hong Kong?

Alex: Yeah.


QS 1:00:03 Mike: Is that just, you’re from Hong Kong or is it specific, you picked it out because it’s a good market for this or why did you choose Hong Kong? 

Alex: Well, we’ve got the best of both worlds. We’re actually physically in Hong Kong and Hong Kong is awesome, it’s amazing. I mean, it’s a libertarian’s dream-come-true in economic terms at least. I’m not talking about political terms, that’s a bit of a spicy question there.

Mike: Right, but they’re a very free-market city or province or whatever the correct term is.

Alex: Right, the correct, if we want to be very politically correct, then the correct term is Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. So, that’s the politically correct version. You can say it’s almost a separate country. It’s not a separate country, it’s certainly not a separate country, okay, just to be clear, but for all intents and purposes, apart from it having its own military, it is completely autonomous. It has its own law system, it has its own different court system, they have their own parliament, it’s called the Legislative Council or LegCo. The press is free. The internet is not blocked like it is in mainland China. 

Essentially it’s a very sort of different society. It’s a free society for all intents and purposes. And the economy of Hong Kong, it’s considered to be the freest economy in the world according to some agency that counts these things. 

Mike: Yeah, I saw somewhere, it’s also in the 20 most, I don’t know exactly what the measure was, but it was basically saying like if you’re gonna get scammed or whatever, this is probably one of the 20 safest economies, I think it was number 15, it actually ranked higher than the United States, as far as Hong Kong being a safe economy or something. I don’t remember where I saw that, but yeah. I mean, it’s a remnant of when it was under British rule, they created a capitalist society and that’s been allowed to continue.

Alex: Yeah, under British rule, they had this colonial governor, I think his name was Pensworth, or Pennysworth, or something “Worth”, I’m sorry I’m blanking out on his name. 

Mike: That’s okay.

Alex: But they put this colonial governor there and he decided to impose a policy of so-called positive non-intervention where they just stayed away from the economy. They did not try to regulate anything, they didn’t try to make everyone get a license for everything, they didn’t try to use any price controls or currency controls, or monetary controls, or anything. I mean, this is essentially what every libertarian is dreaming of; every Ron Paul out there is just: “I wish we had this back in the US, this would be so awesome.” Come to Hong Kong, we have this; we have everything you want, all right? 

And it is probably the best place in the world to open a company. So, you ask why Hong Kong, why open a company in Hong Kong? Even if we’re not talking about cryptocurrencies, just in general, if you want to open a company, there is probably no better place in the world to open a company than Hong Kong. And when we come to talk about the crypto-space, the cryptocurrency, blockchain technology industry essentially, Hong Kong has been an extremely friendly environment for the industry. 

Of course, sometimes you see reports pop up of the Hong Kong monetary authority wanting to do this, or wanting to that, but it’s all talk, they never do anything and the regulatory environment in Hong Kong is absolutely ideal. There is pretty much no regulation when it comes to crypto in Hong Kong.

Mike: So, because you’re a global company, do you have to worry about any type of regulatory issues abroad, outside of Hong Kong? 

Alex: When it comes to regulatory issues abroad, in our terms of service we specify that by using our platform, you’ve done your due diligence, you’ve made sure that everything that you are doing is legal in your own jurisdiction. Everything that is legal, and for example, maybe you’re in the state of New York in the United States where you have to have this if I remember correctly…

Mike: The BitLicence. 

Alex: The BitLicence, right, right, the BitLicence, the ridiculous, idiotic BitLicence.

Mike: What’s interesting with BitLicence, I don’t want to get too off topic, but my sister lives in New York and it’s not even New York residents that have to obey the BitLicence, if I go visit my sister, if I’m gonna have to do any type of cryptocurrency, if I need to move my coins or if I want to sell something on an exchange and I know I’m gonna be visiting my sister, I need to either take care of that beforehand or I need to wait until afterwards because otherwise even I would have to go and jump through a lot of stuff just because I’m in New York, which is crazy to me.

Alex: Yeah, this goes against all the free market principles that the United States sort of based itself upon as far as I’m concerned. I mean, it’s really sad; it’s a sad state of affairs that A Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China is more progressive in this respect than the state of New York of all states. 

Mike: Right, one of the financial capitals of the world.

Alex: One of the three financial capitals of the world, exactly. It’s probably, the other being London and Hong Kong, it’s probably because all the guys down at Wall Street are starting to feel some, starting to feel some… You know, a bit of pressure, a bit of competition.

Mike: Yeah, I think part of it also; they’re, when BitLicence got started, there were a lot of people that didn’t know to stop it essentially. But there is, I talked a few episodes back with Peter Van Valkenburgh and Jerry Brito, I think I bring these guys up a lot, I really like them, to any listeners listening, I like those guys, they’re nice guys. But based on my conversations with them and I don’t remember if this was in the episode or if this was outside of it, they kind of said, the winds might be turning the other way to the point where maybe New York reverses the BitLicence, so maybe there’s some hope there, I don’t know.

Alex: All right, all right, we hope so, we certainly hope so. So, anyway, back on topic, if whatever you’re doing is illegal in your jurisdiction when it comes to trading Monero or any other cryptocurrency that you may want to trade on LocalMonero, you can by the way, you can trade other cryptocurrencies on LocalMonero in exchange for Monero. One of the payment methods we offer is cryptocurrency, you can use, we support Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, people like to call it “Dogcoin”, I call it “Dogecoin”, I’m sorry, okay, please don’t kill me.

Mike: I call it dead; I cannot believe it has any value anymore. Who uses it? 

Alex: Hey, you shouldn’t underestimate the power and value of memes. After all, they got Donald Trump to the White House, you know? They certainly have some value or some power rather. Where was I? Right, people say Dogecoin, sorry for going off topic, this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, people say Dogecoin, isn’t Doge one of those governors of medieval mercantile Venice? I mean…

Mike: Yeah, so Venice was ruled by the Doges.

Alex: Right.

Mike: The term actually comes from, I don’t remember the name of the video, but there is a really crappy video where somebody actually says in the video Doge, in reference to a dog, and so that’s where it comes from and of course there is the such wow, Shiba in the picture that got associated with it and I don’t remember if that was in the video or not, I don’t know the full story of that, there is some precedents for it, but yeah. You can call it Dogecoin if you want, because it’s just like… r/dogecoin on reddit is just a hilarious place to go and visit every once in a while, but at the same time, it’s just like, man, I cannot believe there is still any legs behind this. 

Alex: No, they’re pretty wholesome guys down there at r/dogecoin. They’re very wholesome.

Mike: Yeah, they are.

Alex: And I see a lot of people coming in there and begging for Dogecoin and they just give up the money, they just give it away. It’s great, it’s great, it’s wholesome, it’s fun. Anyway, so we support Ether, Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Siacoin, Ripple, Zerocash and Dash. That was eight, right? Was that eight? Should’ve been eight. 

Mike: I don’t know, I lost track. It was eight or so.

Alex: We support eight of the sort of popular altcoins. 

Mike: There’s as parking lot out by the airport near me where they were listing something like 40 different coins that they were accepting and one of them was Litecoin Testnet, how come you all aren’t accepting Litecoin Testnet?

Alex: You know, we actually want to accept Litecoin Testnet, but we are currently prioritizing the implementation of Romero, and Romerito and also Romerito Cash and also Romerito Cash Unlimited.

Mike: I recommend Montero as a good one. 

Alex: Oh, Montero, yeah, yeah, Montero is right after Romero, and Omero is right after Romerito Cash Unlimited Classic.

Mike: Okay, maybe you could have like LocalMontero or something as a separate platform. 

Alex: Oh, we will be launching LocalRomeritoCashUnlimitedBitcoin very soon actually, it’s our next project. 

Mike: Okay, you can tell we’re getting deep into an episode when we start to get goofy like this. Okay, so I do want to get back to, you were talking about making sure people know their regulations…

Alex: Oh, right, right, right.

Mike: Just as an example of this, there is nothing you can do about this, but this is something people need to be aware of, everybody who’s listening to this that might want to try your platform, I live in Boulder, Colorado which is a state kind of right in the middle of the United States, and then I’ve also heard of this same thing happening in a few other states where cases have been brought against LocalBitcoin traders for running an illegal money services business.

And basically, the Financial Crime Enforcement Network, basically said like, “By advertising continuously that you are willing to sell or buy Monero and just continuously doing this, day after day, year after year, then you are running a money services business.” And so from my understanding, the government basically argued that by routinely advertising those traders, the local trader was doing something that required getting a money services license and by not doing it, he was breaking the law. 

But what they also kind of said along that was that if all you’re doing is like, you want to buy Monero, and so you post a thing and you can go buy your Monero. Or you want to sell Monero and you post it or you’re like, there’s somebody else who’s posted a trade and all you’re doing is just going and filling it and you didn’t advertise anything, my understanding is that you would be fine in those cases. So, just something for people to be aware of. If you want to become a professional trader, part of being a professional trader is that you have to follow whatever the laws are where you live and that might include getting some type of license.

Alex: Yeah, due diligence. 

Mike: Yeah, so I don’t know if you know of any other examples of things like that, that maybe people need to be aware of, but I know that in Colorado and Michigan, I’ve seen states in the United States where those are definitely things to look into.

Alex: Right, I only know of the examples that you’ve already given. So, no comment on that. 

Mike: Okay, yeah. Yeah, actually one of the guys from Colorado, he runs my local meetup and I’m hoping at some point I can talk with him on this show about it, just to kind of hear his story ‘cause it’s a fascinating story. Like, 20-something Federal agents showed up at his house and raided his house and they thought it was somehow tied to some type of illegal drug-smuggling business or something and ultimately they just got him on a money services fine. But, yeah, it’s an interesting story that now with LocalMonero being here, it’s all the more relevant, so maybe I can get him on soon and we can tell that story. 


QS 1:14:27 Mike: Okay, what’s next for you guys? Is there any like, is there like another feature that can get added or is there some kind of thing that you need to work on now to help become sustainable? You know is there a certain level of volume you need to get to? What do you guys have on your horizon? 

Alex: Okay, well, we’ve only been only for just over a week. So, the first week has been very–

Mike: So, you’re millionaires already.

Alex: Oh, yeah, yeah, we’re just swimming in this Romeros, man. The first week was extremely stressful for us, we’ve been getting a lot of traffic and we’ve been getting stability issues because of that traffic, we were not prepared for such a response. 

Mike: Yeah, I mean there’s no way to be ready and know what type of volume you’re gonna get until it actually happens, so it’s understandable. 

Alex: I mean, we were not expecting such a positive response. It was incredible, we were just looking at the stats, looking at all the positive comments on the reddit thread, and all the retweets, and we were just, “Oh my God, this is incredible.” So, just briefly, I just want to say a huge thank you, a gigantic, ginormous thank you for the Monero community, for being so positive in the reception of our service. We are so grateful and we are so sorry, we are so very sorry that the service was so spotty, I mean, people couldn’t load the site, I mean, it was going up and down. 

Mike: Yeah, I don’t know if you listened to my last episode, but I recorded it like a day after you guys launched and it wasn’t until literally like 10 minutes into the recording that I finally got your site to load after trying for like a day and a half at that point.

Alex: Right, right, we’re so sorry, we’re so sorry for that. 

Mike: But things seem to have stabilized. 

Alex: Yeah, we’re fine now, we’ve done some improvements, we’ve move to bigger servers and it’s getting better now. There are still a few minor stability issues that we’re still working on, but the bulk of the stabilization and the optimization I think is complete. One feature we’re about to roll out, probably it will already be rolled out by the time you release this podcast is two-factor authentication. It’s probably the most requested feature by far; I mean we’ve been getting so many requests for two-factor authentication everywhere.

Mike: Yeah, well, can I stop you for a second and thank you for not just including that, but also for saying authentication correctly. I hear so many times people, both on shows and just like in person say “two-factor authentification”, and it just drives me nuts. So, thank you for using the term correctly.

Alex: Hey, hey, LocalMonero, we’re professionals here, we use correct terms, man. Anyway, so two-factor authentication is a feature we’re rolling out today, that’s gonna be, that should evoke a very positive response, so many requests for that. 

Mike: Yeah, so that should be out by the time this episode is out.

Alex: Right, right. You know, some of things we changed, we tried to listen to all the criticisms that are thrown our way on reddit, Twitter, IRC, wherever else, we really want to make sure the service we provide is the best possible service. So, a few examples of that for example, is when we just launched, we allowed anyone to create a selling advertisement without any balance loaded on their LocalMonero wallet so you could just register and you could just put up an ad for selling Monero right away.

And because of that, a lot of people just started putting up the sell ads as is expected and the buyers, potential buyers who were coming on the site and trying to open a trade on those ads were unable to do so because the seller didn’t fund their balance. During the creation of the trade, LocalMonero first has to make sure that the trader has enough balance on their LocalMonero wallet before they can initiate the trade.

So, every single time the buyer tried to initiate the trade, the seller with an empty balance prevented that from happening and this was so wide-spread. We had so many complaints thrown our way and essentially we’ve eliminated that as soon as we could so right now in order to create a selling advertisement you’d have to have at least one Monero loaded onto your LocalMonero wallet in order for it to be visible in public search results.

Mike: Do you also have to have at least as much Monero as you say that you’re willing to sell? Could I have a balance of one Monero, but say I’m willing to sell between 10 and a 100 Monero or something like that and  then somebody could open up a thing, like, “Oh, I want to buy a 100 Monero”, but I don’t have a 100 Monero.

Alex: If you specify a minimum amount on your advertisement and your balance, your LocalMonero wallet balance is less than the minimum amount that you specified for that particular advertisement, then that ad will also not be shown in the public search results. Another thing that we’ve had a lot of complaints on was the fee.

Now, prior to I think three days ago or two days ago, our fee was a fixed fee of 0.05 Monero which is the case on, as far as the last time I checked which was maybe a week ago, the fee was the same as it is on Poloniex, as it is on Kraken, all of these exchanges, all of major exchanges use a changes, a withdrawal fee of 0.05 Monero, so that’s what we did and we got a lot of complaints on that. Oh, with the recent price spike and of course, while we were developing our platform, we had no idea of the upcoming price spike, so for us, 0.05 Monero seemed quite reasonable, but now with the price spike, it’s ridiculous, 0.05 Monero for withdrawing, that’s like $6, what’s that, $5? 

Mike: Something like that, $5 or $6, I don’t know what the price of that is right now.

Alex: It’s insane, yeah, and we’ve got a lot of complaints, rightfully so, rightfully so and we’ve fixed that. Now all the withdrawals…


QS 1:21:40 Mike: So do you all batch withdrawals? 

Alex: Batch withdrawals, yes.

Mike: Yeah, if there’s like 5 withdrawals that are all coming out at the same time, will you do it all as one transaction? 

Alex: Yes.

Mike: Okay, so that should save a little bit then. The other thing you could maybe consider is give people the option to withdraw at economy rate instead of at the base rate and just like with the caveat that, like, okay if you choose this and the network is busy right now, you’re gonna have to wait a little while before this actually comes through. I don’t know if that’s gonna work.

Alex: We thought about doing that, but there are some issues when it comes to implementing that programmatically because different transactions, different withdrawal requests might have different sort of mixin settings, if that’s what you’re talking about, putting a low mixin to get a cheaper rate? 

Mike: No, I’m talking about specifying that you can choose an economy fee. It’s like the base fee is whatever it is, you know, based on the formula, but then there’s an economy fee that’s one fourth that value, but what happens is that by paying an economy fee, if there is some heavy block pressure, and blocks are pseudo-full, Monero blocks are never technically full because they can always grow, but there is kind of a short-term limit to how full they can be and if you’re in a situation like that, this is probably a situation where people are gonna want their Monero because there is  a lot of demand for it and price is probably going up or whatever else, then if you pay this economy fee, you’re just never gonna get included in a block until demand comes down.

And then once demand starts slowing down, then you’ll get included in a block because now the miner says like, “Yeah, I’ll go ahead and throw this cheaper transaction in.” So, there’s a way you can specify that, I believe you can do it with an RPC wallet which is what you guys are probably doing, I know you can do it with the command line and the GUI, and since they all use the same code base, I assume it’s there. But that being said, it might just be like too much of a headache for you to worry about ‘cause now you’ve got two different types of withdrawals that people can do. 

Alex: Actually, that sounds like a cool feature, we will certainly look into, I promise you that, we will certainly look into it. What was I saying before that? 

Mike: You were just talking about how you were lowering the fee from a fixed fee of .05 and I think what you all have now done is you’re gonna make it fluctuate with the market?

Alex: Yes, we’re trying to keep it as close as possible to the network fee. So, that should satisfy everyone in terms of being fair. We’ve also, for everyone who made a withdrawal before we implemented these changes, of changing it from a fixed fee to a dynamic fee that we have now, we have compensated every single withdrawal. 

Mike: Yeah, I saw that.

Alex: That was the right thing to do. So, it’s not the exact proper amount of compensation, it may be a little bit more than what was required or maybe a little bit less. 

Mike: I mean, to be fair, technically the exact proper amount of compensation is zero because your terms were this is what we do, but you guys are trying to make it right in the sense of, “That wasn’t a very good idea.” And so whatever you can do to try and make it right is a kind of icing on the cake for people, so if anybody were coming, still complain about it, I think you could always just go back and point to like, look, we did what we said we were gonna do and now we’re just trying to make things a little bit better for you. So, you’re doing as best as you can.

Alex: All right, thank you very much, thank you very much for that. So, another criticism that we go, a lot of criticisms that we received were just minor typos that we made here or there, so that one got fixed and essentially, what I’m trying to say is that, if you have some sort of suggestion or criticism that you have towards our platform, just go ahead and just throw it at us. Just tweet it at us, go on IRC and contact us in IRC, on reddit, either through our subreddit of /r/localmonero or just by opening a thread on /r/monero or maybe throwing me a PM.

Mike: Yeah, go on /r/monero and do a quick search for LocalMonero and you’ll find your usernames and stuff, there’s lots of ways to do it. Twitter is probably the easiest way.

Alex: Twitter, IRC, reddit, Facebook, Bitcoin.

Mike: Hire an airplane that scribbles something up in the sky over in New York, that will get people’s attention or in Hong Kong even. 

Alex: Get a messenger pigeon and scribble a note and just send it to Hong Kong, in the general direction of Hong Kong and just hope it reaches. Any method you wish you choose to contact us, please do and just shower us in all the dirt you want because we’re really interested in hearing all the criticisms and we want to make this platform as perfect as possible. Initially, it’s evident by looking at our website that we are “heavily inspired” by LocalBitcoins, so it looks almost identical to LocalBitcoins, we’ve used different design principles, we’ve used what’s called material design as opposed to LocalBitcoins which used bootstrap. That’s for all you front-end geeks out there. So, apart from that.

Mike: There aren’t any front-end geeks in Monero; otherwise, all of our GUIs would have existed two or three years ago.

Alex: Oh, that’s a very good point, that’s a very good point. Anyway, so we understand that LocalMonero will probably evolve eventually to be a very different entity from LocalBitcoins because the needs of the Monero community are quite different, especially when it comes to cypherpunk features. What I call cypherpunk features, things like having a TOR hidden service and maybe I2P URL and a JavaScript-free version of the website. Those kind of things are something that Monero users will be requesting much more and we’ll appreciate much more than your average sort of Bitcoin users.

Mike: At least early adopters probably.

Alex: Oh, certainly, certainly. So, once we get these immediate priority issues taken care of, like the stability issues that I’ve been talking about and right now two-factor authentication, we will start working on the cypherpunk issues. So, probably, the first cypherpunk feature that we’ll be rolling out will be the TOR hidden service. And with the TOR hidden service, we’re really proud of this, we’re gonna use so called single onion, do you know what single onion is, Mike? 

Mike: I don’t, no, you’re gonna teach me something here.

Alex: Oh, yeah, here it comes; here it comes, all right. So, single onion, single onion is essentially… First we have to talk about how a TOR hidden service works. So, essentially, massively simplifying, if you imagine the TOR sort of cloud where there is a cloud of nodes, of TOR nodes, communicating with each other and you have let’s say the client, the client who wants to access a certain website, a certain server and then you have the server. So, normally in a TOR hidden service what would happen is that the client has to make three hops to a certain rendezvous point and then the server has to make three hops, by hop I mean like connecting to a node, a TOR node, and then that TOR node connects to another TOR node–

Mike: Connects to another one, yeah.

Alex: And that one connects to another one, so that’s called a hop, so you do three hops, the client does three hops to the rendezvous point.

Mike: And the idea there for anybody who’s not sure is just like to try and make you have more anonymity, make it harder for people to trace where your traffic is coming from.

Alex: Exactly, exactly. So, by the client doing three hops to the rendezvous point and the server doing three hops to the rendezvous point, what happens is both the client and the server sort of came from unknown locations to this rendezvous point and that’s where they meet and that’s where they conduct their business, right? That’s like me and you meeting in some, whatever dark alley, and neither I nor you know where we came from, but we just know this is our rendezvous point and this is where we conduct our business sand then we go by our ways, right? 

So, you have three hops by the client and three hops by the server. Now, what single onion does is it eliminates the three hops that are made by the server. So, in our case we are not trying to hide the location of our server, we are not trying to keep the server anonymous, the location of our server is public knowledge, and we’re not some darknet market that’s trying to obfuscate this in order to evade law enforcement. 

We’re fine with our service not being anonymous. So, with us being fine with that, we can launch a TOR hidden service that only needs the three hops to be done by the client. So, the server doesn’t do three hops, the server, you can imagine is already at the rendezvous point. And that way, you sort of say save at least half of the amount of time that would normally take to connect to the server because there is less hops to make.

Mike: Yeah, and that’s beneficial on TOR because sometimes TOR can be a little bit slow because you have to make so many different hops in the system. 

Alex: Exactly, exactly.

Mike: And then I imagine it probably makes your infrastructure easier to run too, so kind of best of both worlds there.

Alex: Well, not really. Actually it’s harder to implement single onion than not. It’s a bit of a hassle actually. There’s not much documentation when it comes to single onion because it’s kind of a new thing. It was developed jointly by Facebook and someone else, I forgot who else developed it, I think Digital Ocean was playing a part in this. And the TOR foundation of course, because Facebook wanted to provide a hidden service and they wanted it to be for clients to be able to load a bit faster, so that’s why they came up with this concept because they’re not trying to hide their own servers, they’re a public company, so they developed this concept collaborating with the TOR project and they called it Single Onion. 

So, that’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna do a Single Onion TOR service, so that should enable much faster than normal TOR browsing for anyone who wants to access our service through TOR. 

Mike: Cool. Okay, so you know we’re kind of getting towards the end. I don’t want to hold you up any longer, I know it’s kind of right in the middle of your work day right now and we’re talking. 

Alex: No, that’s fine, that’s fine, I’m having fun talking to you. 


QS 1:34:08 Mike: Good. Before we start to do a little bit of a wrap up, do you have any other things that you wanted to tell people about or try and alleviate any concerns people might have, anything like that?

Alex: One thing I want to tell people about is that we need more people selling Monero in South America. There is so much traffic we’re getting from South America, from Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, I think I just named all of the South American countries right there. Close enough close enough anyway. We’re getting a ton of traffic from South American sources and there is almost no seller activity on LocalMonero for South American countries. 

There is a ton of buyer activity. There is a lot of traffic, people are coming in, looking for listings that are selling Monero and there are none. So, if there are any South American listeners right now, this is your chance, man. You should go out and you should really put up as many listing as possible in South American countries, you should get a lot of traffic, you should get a lot of trade traffic so to speak. And maybe you yourself aren’t from South America, maybe you know someone from South America, it would be nice if you would give them a call and tell them about that. 

Mike: I was just looking at the kind of demographic stats of my, of the podcast website here just today and there definitely are people from every country in South America that have visited the site, so somebody might be listening this episode from there and maybe they’ll take you up on this.

Alex: Awesome, awesome. Because we’ve got a lot of tweets and retweets and our platform being published on various media outlets with Portuguese and Spanish language media outlets that are viewed in South America and a ton of traffic from there. But unfortunately, all that traffic was buyer traffic and they all came to the pages that were empty because there were no sell advertisements. So, South Americans, come on, we need some Monero sellers, come on, let’s get on it, let’s make it sell.

Mike: I know there is a big mining community in Venezuela and a few other countries, so there’s got to be somebody down there with some Monero. 

Alex: Hopefully.

Mike: Cool. Well, Alex, thanks for talking with me, for going on for a long time now.

Alex: I think it’s 1 hour and 40 minutes, something?

Mike: Yeah, something like that. It’s funny ‘cause like, I came into this fairly skeptical and I’m a very skeptical guy, so don’t take that as a bad thing.

Alex: I get it. 

Mike: But it seems like you’re doing this the right way. And it’s funny because there’s no way somebody can prove that a service that requires trust can be trusted, like you literally can’t prove that. The only thing that you can prove is that it can’t be trusted when it ends up breaking, but it seems like you guys are maybe trying to do things the right way and the only thing I would encourage you is that you really consider, when it gets to this, part of why things like MyMonero are trusted by the community is that there is Riccardo’s personal reputation, and his own personal wealth that is kind of supporting the reputation of the company. And you know, I mean, Riccardo is a very special person in this space. 

Alex: Oh, he’s just a very special person in general, not just in this space.

Mike: Yeah, yeah. But you know, coming out, telling people who you are just for the sake of doing it isn’t the right reason to do it, but it can help if you get to a kind of, between a rock and a rock and a hard place where like, people are still really wanting to know who are these guys, I think that this interview hopefully starts to allow people to know who you are even if they don’t know who you are. 

You know, it’s just one of those things, I hope one day you’re able to feel comfortable coming out, telling people much like Erik Voorhees did with ShapeShift because when he did that, it kind of made people say like, “Okay, this is something that I’ll try out a little bit.” But at the same time, there is plenty of reasons why I think you guys can succeed even before that ever happens. So, I don’t recommend that anyone ever use anything, exchanges or anything like that, so I can’t recommend that people use your service, but I certainly hope that people do and I hope that a community builds up with the LocalMonero platform.

And you guys, I mean, hopefully in six months I’m not eating the words because you guys have exit scammed, I’m counting on you guys to do a little bit of that, but I mean, I hope you guys are successful and I hope in six months, maybe I’m having you back on and we can talk about how much growth you guys have had and stuff like that. 

Alex: Thank you, thank you very much, Mike, that’s very sweet words. And we will do everything we can not to disappoint you or anyone else who decides to put their trust in us and be sort of early adopters, sort of the solutions to the chicken and egg problem and we’re very grateful, extremely grateful for all the positive feedback and for all the criticism that we got in this week and a half that we’ve been online. And we will continue to do everything we can to satisfy everyone. 

Mike: And you know, one day it might be that Monero becomes so successful that your platform actually has no purpose anymore–

Alex: Hopefully.


QS 1:41:05 Mike: Or Bitcoin becomes so successful that LocalBitcoins have no purpose anymore, but until that time, and that time may never come, something like your platform is invaluable, and so the fact that you guys have built it is encouraging. All right, well, yeah, thanks for sitting down and talking with me, we’ve already talked a little bit that people can reach out to you, but what is your Twitter handle for instance or what is your, you said your subreddit already, but what are the ways people can reach you?

Alex: Okay, so for Twitter, you would use @LocalMoneroCo, @LocalMoneroCo, that’s our Twitter handle. On reddit, you can find us as I said on /r/localmonero. My personal LocalMonero reddit account is Alex_LocalMonero so you can PM Alex_…

Mike: I like that you have that on there so then when people see you interacting elsewhere, they know, like, “Oh-oh, he’s the LocalMonero guy.” The Coinbase does the same thing which I think is cool.

Alex: I thought about initially just doing a random sort of nickname, but for purposes of having full disclosure and not seeming scammy and all that, I decide to add the LocalMonero so that everyone knows that I’m at least affiliated. Obviously you can’t tell from the username itself my position in LocalMonero, but you know I’m part of LocalMonero. Other than that, IRC. If you know the #monero IRC channel, if you sit around there, I’m also available there under the same name, Alex_LocalMonero. 

Also, on the IRC channel #monero-markets which is the official IRC channel of the subreddit XMRtrader, /r/xmrtrader which is like the main subreddit for people who are interested in trading Monero. Also, we have our own IRC channel, also on freenode, just like the official Monero IRC channel, which is available at #localmonero. Also, obviously the same IRC username, Alex_LocalMonero. We are available on Facebook if for some reason you choose to use Facebook, man. 

Mike: Well, they have a hidden service, right or they’re trying to make on?

Alex: No, no, they do have a single onion hidden service, so our Facebook is, I think it’s Facebook.com/localmoneroco. That’s Facebook.com/localmoneroco.

Mike: Are some of these account links and things on your website, is there an about page or something where people can look all this up?

Alex: Yes, if you go to LocalMonero.co, that’s LocalMonero.co, on the bottom of the page, in the footer, you’ll have all the links to the Facebook and the IRC and the Twitter and the reddit and whatever else. Also you can contact us by email, directly. You can find me personally at [email protected], zero as in the digit zero, not the spelled out word zero. So, [email protected], that’s how you would reach me personally. Me, being Alex, “Alex”. The reason I’m doing this stich is because the Vice article, if you read the Vice article about us, have you by the way, Mike?

Mike: Yeah, I have.

Alex: Yeah, if you read the Vice article, they say like, one of the founders who refers to himself as “Alex”, it’s just funny how they did that. We’re joking around here, everyone who right now refers to me as Alex, and they do air quotes with their hands, it’s hilarious. 

Mike: I’ve been doing air quotes for the last hour and a half, every time I say your name.

Alex: Oh, awesome, awesome. So, right, you can as I was saying, email 0, the digit [email protected] and if you want to just contact the team in general, you go [email protected] 

If you have any feature requests or maybe some bugs you found or whatever, you need some support, you can open a ticket at localmonero.freshdesk.com or you can send an email actually to [email protected] and that automatically opens a ticket for you if you don’t want to register on the freshdesk, which, I get that. So, yeah, for feature requests it’s better to use that, not my personal work email. 

Mike: Then, I don’t know if you have figured this out yet, but kind of the tradition in the whole Bitcoin space is that the other way that people can get in touch with you if none of the other ways work is to just post some crazy rant on reddit and eventually you’ll have Alex_LocalMonero reply to you because you don’t want all that stuff, you don’t want dirty laundry being aired out on reddit when often times it’s just like a simple user problem. So, that will happen to you guys at some point, so be ready.

Alex: Oh, oh, we’re ready; we’re having a lot of fun already having to check every single thread that mentions us and reply to any sort of comments or concerns that anyone might have. But seriously it’s important that people do air out their concerns, if people don’t throw us any criticisms, then how are we to improve, right? We’re trying to be the best service that we can provide and we don’t want to be just a carbon copy of LocalBitcoins, we understand that the needs of the Monero community will be different. 

For example, one thing we want to do eventually is end-chat encryption, right? Which LocalMonero doesn’t have right now and LocalBitcoins doesn’t have right now. Right now, we and LocalBitcoins in terms of chat, we have the same policy that we encrypt and store chat logs for 180 days for dispute mediation purposes and also watermark any image attachments that a user may choose to upload in the chat. For example, sometimes a seller may require ID, a scan of your passport or something, so whiner you uploads you passport scan, we will automatically watermark it and store it in an encrypted format, so…

But we want to go one step further, we want to implement end-to-end encryption where even we can’t read the chat messages and the design issue with that right now is how do we make it such that we are able to mediate disputes, right? Because in order to mediate disputes, we need to be able to read all the logs and you know…

Mike: Yeah, you would need some type of optional view key or something.

Alex: Exactly. Exactly, an optional view key that is provided–

Mike: In the event of the dispute.

Alex: In the event of the dispute, so we’re trying to figure out what’s the best way to do that. That’s not on our top priority right now, but it’s certainly in our feature list. We really want to do that, we think it’s gonna be really cool and we think the Monero community will really appreciate it. And you know who else will appreciate it? The NSA, they’re gonna appreciate that very much, aren’t you, NSA, huh? Anyways…

Mike: They’re probably listening.

Alex: I’m sure they are.

Mike: They’re not even listening to the podcast recording; they’re actually listening to us live right now talking.

Alex: Exactly, exactly, I’m sure they are, I’m sure they are.

Mike: Okay, well great, thanks for coming on. Anybody who’s listening, you can find me, I’m Mike, my handle is @MoneroMonitor or look for bigreddmachine on reddit. If you liked this episode, please like us on iTunes or wherever you listen. Feel free to reach to me as well, just like Alex was telling you all those ways to reach out, you can find various things, contact and other stuff on our website, MoneroMonitor.com. Thanks to everybody who’s donated to the show. We run entirely on donations, that helps with hosting costs, that lets me pay xmronadaily a little bit for all of his great transcripts, which this episode being so long is probably gonna take him quite a bit of work to do a transcript for. But hopefully, we can get that done. 

And if you’d like to donate, just go to our web page, you’ll find the episode page for this particular episode and you’ll see a donation address there. And so unless you have anything, Alex, do you want to just call it a day? 

Alex: Yeah, I’ve had a lot of fun and thank you very much for doing this podcast. I’m so glad that someone is doing a Monero-space podcast. And you said on many of your podcasts you were hoping for the same thing and then you’re just like, “No, I’m just gonna do it myself.” It was a very, very correct decision. Thank you for doing it. 

Mike: Well, thanks and best of luck with LocalMonero. Hopefully in, I don’t know, three months, six months, a year, something like that, we can either have you on the show or maybe by then there’s like some big Monero conference or something and we can get a drink in person. 

Alex: Oh, yeah, you can come down to Hong Kong, we’ll show you around. We’ll show you around the Milton Friedman sort of paradise.

Mike: You’ll have like a paper bag on your face so I don’t reveal who you are. 

Alex: I think by the time you get to Hong Kong, we’ll probably already de-anonymize ourselves, if everything goes well and you will find it worthy to come to Hong Kong to visit us, we’d be very happy to have you.

Mike: Yeah. Well, based on your description of it, it sounds like the place it might be fun to come to. So, year, I’ll give it some thought.

Alex: Have you seen Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose? 

Mike: No.

Alex: It’s one of these staple, classic libertarian documentary, that I’m sure, you know, if you’re a libertarian, you’re gonna love it. And the first episode or if you have libertarian leanings, I mean, I can’t say I’m a libertarian; there are some issues with that political stance. 

Mike: Yeah, there’s a whole spectrum to, are you a moderate libertarian, or are you a hardcore, very far out there libertarian.

Alex: Right, right. I can at least call myself a classical liberal, that’s the least I can do when I describe my political views. So, if you’re leaning in sort of that direction, right, maybe you’re not full-on libertarian, but that’s what attracts you the most, you have to watch Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose, it blows your mind in a lot of ways and the first episode actually of Free to Choose, it’s a 10-part series and the first part of that series, actually, Milton covers Hong Kong and gives Hong Kong as the example of the closest thing we have to a truly free market.

Mike: Very cool.

Alex: And goes into about how awesome it is and how much positive effect it had. So, check it out.

Mike: I’ll have to.

Alex: And then come down to Hong Kong.

Mike: Okay, sounds good. We’ve got a deal.

Alex: All right. 

Mike: All right, with that then, let’s just call it a night.

Alex: All right.

~~ { Closing Music } ~~