When the Tezos (XTZ) fundraiser took place in July of 2017, the original plan was for development to be completed in 3 to 4 months before a production network would be released, at which point ICO participants could collect their coins. Following the ICO, which was the largest one-time fundraiser in blockchain history at the time, development proceeded as planned until management issues arose at the Swiss foundation created to steward the project threatened to derail the entire effort.
After months of delays, which pushed an expected 2017 launch well into 2018 with no firm schedule in sight, the Tezos community was frazzled. To get to the point where ICO contributors could own and/or cash out their Tezos coins, it would take a change of leadership at the Tezos Foundation, which happened in February 2018, and several more months of development to finish a working beta network.
Betanet Brings Hope, Not Liquidity
On June 30, 2018, almost a year to the day after the fundraiser in 2017, the Tezos Betanet launched as a full-functioning blockchain allowing ICO contributors the first chance to claim their coins and decide whether or not they would continue holding them. However, the lack of a suitable crypto exchange left many contributors, especially those in the U.S., with no real options for selling or trading.
The crypto exchange gate.io listed Tezos after the betanet launch, but it excludes residents of Japan, Canada, and the United States. A small handful of low-volume exchanges followed, again with either similar residency restrictions or a small market size, still leaving no good exchange options.
Mainnet Bolsters XTZ Exchange Listings
Following a successful beta period, the Tezos mainnet launched on Sept. 17, 2018, bringing with it a renewed hope that maybe crypto exchanges would begin to take notice. After all, the crypto exchange HitBTC has been trading Tezos IOU’s (I-owe-you) since late last year, surely they would be ready to go live and enable deposits and withdrawals finally giving liquidity to coin holders in the United States.
Despite the promise to be ready for the main net launch, HitBTC repeatedly failed to meet self-imposed deadlines and promises to users on Twitter. The boilerplate tweet, which appears to be similar for every cryptocurrency HitBTC is being asked about, goes like this: “We are getting ready to launch XTZ wallets on HitBTC. Right now we are adapting the software and testing it alongside with Tezos team.”
Beyond the failure of HitBTC, the one bright spot was Bitfinex, a crypto exchange in the top 10 based on volume that listed Tezos on Sept. 17, but it too excludes U.S. traders and is limited to larger deposits of over $10,000.
Tezos Community Steps Up
For most ICOs in 2017, getting access to exchange listings meant either paying a listing fee, possibly into the millions of dollars or relying on demand from coin-holders to drive exchange interest. Tezos prided itself on decentralization, and new leadership at the Tezos Foundation since February has steered far away from even the slightest mention of crypto exchange listings to avoid the appearance of Tezos as an unregistered security.
When asked for comment on whether the Tezos Foundation gets involved with crypto exchange listings, Anthony Lacavaro, of the Tezos Foundation, stated the “Foundation is not involved in working with any exchanges on listings.”
With the Foundation playing safe, in an environment where some coins are being dinged by regulators for the appearance of peddling an unregistered security, the Tezos community began working on the exchange problem.
In an interview with Crypto Insider, Corey Soreff, a board member of the community-run Tezos Commons Foundation (TCF), agreed with the Tezos Foundation’s stance, saying, “I would prefer the Tezos Foundation focus on the long-term growth of the protocol.”
Community Drives Exchange Listings
The big win for Tezos coin holders came on Oct. 16 when Kraken, a popular crypto exchange based in the United States, announced XTZ would be listed the next day and it would be fully functional and open to all investors. Kraken, which does not exclude U.S. investors, became the first option for many Tezos coin holders to trade outside of using an over the counter trading service.
When asked about the Kraken listing, Soreff said, “we were speaking with Kraken from early on and provided some information,” though Kraken did not require technical assistance. Soreff added, “Kraken is the gold standard of exchanges and a pleasure to have on board.”
Soreff also said that there are other exchanges currently considering or working on listing Tezos and that TCF would be providing technical assistance and support along the way, though standard non-disclosure agreements prevented him from mentioning names.
“They have all been eager to list Tezos. Only one exchange has asked for a listing fee (after they approached us), and we decided not to move forward with them,” said Soreff.
According to Soreff, there are several other community efforts underway behind the scenes to work with crypto exchanges and drive the adoption of XTZ while proving that challenges of decentralization can be overcome with a devoted group of supporters.