Alpha impressions: earliest feedback from the new LocalCoinSwap exchange platform

. 4 min read

Like many others I have been eagerly awaiting my first glimpse of the LocalCoinSwap exchange - having been working with the project since before the presale and seen the vision coming together between the team and the community, I know I am not alone in feeling a sense of proprietary pride in the birthing of the platform itself. “Our exchange”, it says on my t-shirt (cheers, Big Vin!). And it’s evident from all the frustration expressed in the queue of eager testers, that everyone is dying to get in.

But creating an exchange which truly meets the needs of all users is a challenging prospect, and the LCS team are playing it absolutely smart by carefully limiting the number of users on the platform in its earliest inception. It’s an alpha release, it’s buggy… That’s the territory, that’s the reason for testing. People who are keen to poke around in something so nascent understand that they’re getting an early glimpse of something not yet complete, and being part of shaping the user experience for those still to come. As such, really getting deeply into it, testing the limits and exploring the functionality is essential, alongside filing those bug reports.

My first impressions are of a clean and uncluttered interface, centred firmly around the user rather than the assets. The look and feel is very much of a marketplace rather than an exchange, and this is a great step forward in creating a genuinely peer-to-peer platform. The aim has always been to make an accessible and community-driven interface, as an on-ramp for new users - and if it had looked the NASDAQ trading floor (or even like Gdax), that would have immediately driven people away.

Instead, “it looks like an eBay/Auction site”, according to one user. Although the number of users on the site is still very limited, you can see the way it’s clearly structured around the buy and sell offers, and that’s how people will interact with the site.

Dave from Chicago remarked, “the platform is very easy to use. We only have fiat to crypto and crypto to fiat trading available so far, but you can see the potential. A lot of us use Coinbase to cash in and cash out on crypto, what a huge advantage that LCS will have to trade coins like Monero, Skrumble, or Dash, for fiat - whereas if you use a centralized service like Coinbase you only have 5 or 6 choices.

“I like that the team has all the different wallets on one page, and you can fantasize [about] filling the coffers with the dividend tokens! I can honestly say I have yet to find a bug in the features we've been asked to test, and everything seems to run very smoothly. It was a pleasure to be one of the first to try the platform, as it's been a long road since the presale, and it's nice to see the vision first hand”

There are bugs, of course, that different users are unearthing as they probe the feature set more deeply. But these are being escalated to the development team who are steadily working through them, and responding also to the users’ feedback about softer issues such as language and navigation. In the creation of a toolset which will meet the needs of both novice and experienced traders, it’s really vital to use labels and descriptions which are not only compliant with existing expectations, but don’t exclude new users by default. And functionality too - enabling tactical trading tools like margin pricing, but still making it easy for a novice user to get their hands on their first ever bit of crypto using a fiat currency they’ve already got to hand, via a straight market buy.

It’s a tricky balance - as Bo fed back, “I really dislike the ‘advertise’ tab. Because whenever you see the ‘advertise’ word (like on Binance) you associate it with an advertisement for a product and not a customer order. Maybe listing or customer listing is a better wording for this tab”. For me the really cool thing about testing with this highly engaged group of early adopters is the thinking behind the critique, the fact that the cohort is not just picking holes but actively coming up with suggestions and improvements, which will really help the team build and improve and iterate towards the perfect platform. I could certainly envisage an ongoing user-review panel, to test and consider new functionality before it is released on the live platform - because with the planning and forethought behind the community development fund, it’s clear that the continual improvement and updating of the LCS platform will be an ongoing work-in-progress.

The next wave of testers are eagerly lined up at the gate, and as new people are added then trading test volumes will escalate fast - because two traders have to do the deal between themselves in real time (even though playing with ‘test’ wallets), the low numbers make it harder to transact end to end. The team are carefully balancing the system load and bug management, against the need to test with larger numbers, and simulate the kind of community interaction and competitive trading behaviour which will happen on the live platform when it launches next month. With over 20 coins on the system and over 8000 users waiting to get on, it’s got to be rock-solid on day one - no other exchange has launched with those kind of numbers, but LCS is all about the users and being authentically peer-to-peer.

I’ll leave the last word to community stalwart CeeCee:

“Apart from being still in alpha stage the UI is pretty easier to use. Much cleaner and intuitive than localbitcoins. There is still a fair bit of polishing to do but the vision of the project is readily evident. The team are responding to our suggestions and updating on progress of various bugs etc. Very excited about the August launch. People are going to be pretty happy I think”

Hang on to your hats everyone, it’s coming soon - and will be well worth waiting for.