Bitsooq, a Peer to Peer Cryptocurrency exchange tailored to the needs of Middle Eastern and North African markets has launched. The platform which aims to allow people in the region to buy and sell Bitcoin in a secure manner offers escrow services.

The exchange is available in the beta stage in14 countries in the MENA region. Currently, crypto enthusiasts can only buy and sell Bitcoin.

In a chat with QT, Amine Marzouki, CTO at Bitsooq demonstrated how Bitsooq works. He illustrated:

“The platform allows buyers and sellers in the region to meet and agree on how the transaction will take place. Sellers list their ads on the platform, highlighting all the requirements. Buyers then get to see the list of ads and filter based on their preferred location, payment method, and currency. Once a buyer is interested in an ad, they may begin the transaction process.”

Methods Of Transactions

Marzouki revealed there are an Escrow and Non -Escrow Protected Transaction on the platform. He, however, cautioned the latter exposes both buyers and sellers to fraud risk since Bitsooq does not take any responsibility for the transaction.

In the Non-Escrow Protected, buyer responds to the seller’s ad, and use Bitsooq’s chat system to discuss how the transaction will take place. With this process, Bitsooq acts only as a meeting platform and does not get involved at any of the transaction stages.

But the Escrow Protected Transaction requires using Bitsooq’s escrow service where the buyer or the seller can request. If both parties agree on using the escrow, the seller can send the agreed-on amount in Bitcoin to Bitsooq’s escrow wallet, and then the funds are temporarily held until the buyer makes the payment.

When the seller confirms receiving the payment and informs Bitsooq, then the funds in escrow is released to the buyer. “This method allows for a more secure environment, where a trusted third party is involved in protecting the transaction and investigating any fraud cases,” Marzouki added.

Prospects In MENA

North Africa has shown a great interest in cryptocurrencies since the outset, with Bitcoin being the most popular one. According to the CTO, Bitsooq’s business model came through after several trial and error attempts of providing a safe exchange platform in the region.

“Our team at Bitsooq has extensive experience in the crypto field in North Africa,” Marzouki claimed. “We have built this model based on years of testing different hypothesis on what people in the region are looking for when buying and selling cryptocurrency.”

He thinks the Bitsooq model has been the most successful by far. However, they are still in the Beta phase of launch and are working with the users’ feedback to ensure that the best possible user experience in the region is available.

Expansion Into Africa

When QT queried whether Bitsooq would expand operations into Sub-Sahara Africa, Marzouki’s response was:

Africa has been showing significant economic growth over the last decade. Forecasts indicate that the region will be displaying even higher growth rates across different industries. This statistics makes it geographically attractive for new and innovative technologies, especially in the payment sphere. There are numerous similarities between how North African and other African users conduct payment transactions. The overlap in the challenges faced by users in both regions puts Africa on top of our expansion list.

Besides, It is Bitsooqs conviction that since the youth in Africa constitutes around 20% of the global youth population, and the numbers are growing, It is an attractive market for Bitsooq’s expansion.

Challenges So Far

The Bitsooq’s Team holds that Cryptocurrency has been one of the significant disruptive innovations of the decade. While North American and European users have fully embraced the traditional online payment experience, online users in the Middle East and North Africa still display unease when conducting payment transactions online.

Marzouki attributed this to weak online-protection regulations, the inflexibility of online and offline banking systems, and government capital-control policies. “While those factors stand as challenges in the face of the online payment model, they create a need that cryptocurrencies can fulfil,” he maintained.

He acknowledged the nature of cryptocurrencies in allowing users to bypass many bureaucratic processes, making it easier to conduct online transactions in less time. Though these factors play a role in the adoption of this technology regionally, cryptocurrencies still face significant challenges when it comes to crypto-illiteracy and fraud.

“Security is the biggest challenge cryptocurrencies face in the region. The number of fraudulent platforms went up as the adoption of the technology increased in the geographical area,” he stated.

Another major problem identified by Bitsooq in the region is that people are eager to jump on the crypto wagon before gaining sufficient knowledge of the technology. Users feel like they want to be part of the trend but do not fully understand the risks and challenges associated with it.

“That is why our team works hard to create educational content that can help people understand the technology, what it offers, and what risks to look out for,” Marzouki told QT.