Exclusive interview with Kyrylo Khomiakov: Leading Binance’s Expansion in CEE

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David Mustač from Kripto Dnevnik spoke with Kyrylo Khomiakov, formerly the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) General Manager, now the Regional Head for CEE, Central Asia anda Africa.

How is Binance tailoring its services to fit the unique needs of the Central and Eastern European markets? 

“This region, specifically the Balkans, has historically been a bit neglected due to the fragmentation into many smaller countries. But now, we are pulling our team together here to fully integrate this region into the Binance family. We are localizing our app and website, which will be released very soon, essentially this month. This will allow our local users in the Balkans to finally use Binance in their local language. We are also localizing all the Binance Academy courses, although this will take a bit longer due to the volume of information, but definitely by mid-summer. These courses will also be available in Croatia, and we’ll start properly building our community here. Previously, there were no conferences, meetups, or community events. Our small local team will begin organizing these activities. We have team members in various cities, including Split, and we’re planning several community events that I think will be really cool for the local people.” 

With the diverse regulatory environments across CEE, what are the main challenges Binance faces in Europe, and how is it navigating these regulations? 

“Given the diverse regulatory environment across Central and Eastern Europe, our main challenge has been adapting to various national regulations. However, the MICA (Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation) will soon apply to all European countries, including Croatia and its neighboring countries, providing a unified framework and strategy. We are in the process of applying for the MICA license, which once granted, will be passported to all European countries, making it one unified space without any regulatory differences. We already have several regulatory approvals across Europe, although not in every country, but MICA will simplify this to a single regulatory space.”

How do current economic conditions in Europe influence Binance’s operations and strategies in the CEE countries? 

“The current economic conditions in Europe have not significantly altered our core strategy, which is to be fully compliant with what regulators expect from us. We aim to be crystal clear, transparent, collaborative, and compliant. The introduction of MICA will reintroduce the whole space, and it’s going to be different than it is right now. Currently, all stable coins and other coins, except privacy coins, are available. When MICA kicks in, only projects that have the MICA license or authorization will be available, which will completely reshape the stable coin and altcoin markets here in Europe. We just want to make sure that we provide a fully legal and regulatory approved framework of the best possible products for our European users because there will be a gap once MICA comes into play.” 

Cybersecurity is a major concern for many users. Could you elaborate on the steps Binance is taking to enhance security for its users, we saw on presentation before there was proof of reserves?

We have implemented the proof of reserve, which is already done. It’s a bit different as it’s more about financial transparency, ensuring that users know their assets are currently in a specific wallet—specifically, Binance’s hot wallet—and they can check overall users’ funds and their specific funds. But security is a significant concern, and I agree with you that any system can be broken. That’s our mentality, how we manage our security. There are technological aspects, built on the Binance ledger, and then we have bright minds from the industry working on this. We have over seventy crypto investigators partnering with legal enforcement agencies globally to specifically track potential crypto illicit and illegal activities. Additionally, our compliance team is more than a thousand people strong, and our customer service team faces the users. These three pillars are working tirelessly to build on this technology stack and communicate with legal enforcements, governments, and users to protect them as much as possible.”

How does Binance intend to engage with the local blockchain and crypto communities in CEE? Are there specific community-driven events or initiatives in the pipeline? 

“We will be fully localized, which is step number one. We have opened our social media channels, like our Croatian Telegram channel and Instagram, and once the community grows, we might add TikTok and Twitter, depending on what the community needs. The next steps are to gather Binance users, and we will have our Binance angels work with the users directly to answer any questions, provide any information, support, etc. Our first meetup will happen in September this year at the seaside, once all the tourists leave :), and then in Q4, we will also have one in Zagreb.” 

As the General Manager for CEE, what has been your most challenging experience in this role, and what have you found most rewarding? 

 “I’m now also responsible for Africa, which is a recent development. The most challenging aspect is working in three pillars: understanding the very different needs of our users in Africa, CIS, and Croatia, and providing them with products they use in their daily lives; working with regulators to achieve full transparency and compliance with current regulations, and helping these regulators build their frameworks if needed; and managing all types of partners, which includes traditional finance, media, other businesses in retail, projects, and ecosystems. Managing these three pillars is basically what I do. What is challenging is getting through this transformational stage, which creates a crisis of trust. Users don’t trust centralized exchanges due to some frauds, regulators don’t trust users and centralized exchanges because they are not regulated, and businesses don’t trust the regulators because what they would know tomorrow is not clear. This whole ecosystem lack of trust needs to be fixed. Once a clear set of guidelines and rules are in place, this will all go away. The rewarding part is managing to align the needs of our users with regulatory frameworks and seeing how these efforts facilitate smoother operations and user satisfaction.

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