Crypto Exchange Bitstamp to Suspend Trading AXS, CHZ, MANA, MATIC, NEAR, SAND, and SOL

Bitstamp, one of the world’s oldest cryptocurrency exchanges, has announced a suspension of trading for seven cryptocurrencies in the United States, effective from August 29, 2023. The affected cryptocurrencies include AXS, CHZ, MANA, MATIC, NEAR, SAND, and SOL.

In an official statement released on Bitstamp’s blog, the company explained that the decision was made “considering recent developments” and in alignment with their “comprehensive framework” to evaluate cryptocurrencies in light of the dynamic regulatory environment. The statement further clarified that as of the mentioned date, new orders involving these assets would be disabled, and all existing orders across the affected trading pairs would be canceled.

Customers in the U.S. will still be able to hold these assets within their Bitstamp accounts and withdraw them at any time. The company has urged users to execute any desired buy or sell orders involving the affected assets before the deadline.

The New York State agency of Financial Services has issued Bitstamp USA, Inc. a license allowing it to participate in Virtual Currency Business Activity. This same agency has also issued Bitstamp USA, Inc. a license allowing it to act as a Money Transmitter.

This move comes at a time when Bitstamp is actively seeking to raise funds for expansion. The delisting coincides with the company’s efforts to comply with the dynamic regulatory environment, as stated in their official announcement, though no direct connection to investor pressure has been publicly disclosed

According to a Bloomberg report, Bitstamp initiated the fundraising process in late June 2023, with Galaxy Digital Holdings acting as an adviser. The funds are planned to be used for launching derivatives trading in Europe next year, expanding into Asian markets, and enhancing operations in the U.K.

Bitstamp’s global chief executive officer, Jean-Baptiste Graftieaux, emphasized that the company is not for sale and that the priority is to “accelerate Bitstamp’s growth by providing new products and services to retail and institutional crypto customers.”

Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Luxembourg, Bitstamp was once a primary venue for Bitcoin trading. It is now the world’s seventh-largest exchange, with about $126 million in trading volume in a recent 24-hour period. In 2018, Bitstamp was acquired by NXMH, a European investment firm owned by South Korean conglomerate NXC.

The suspension of trading for the seven cryptocurrencies is a significant indicator in Bitstamp’s operations, reflecting the ongoing challenges and complexities of regulations.

Image source: Shutterstock


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Binance Secures First Operational MVP License from Dubai’s VARA

Binance has achieved a milestone by becoming the first crypto exchange to receive an Operational MVP License from Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA). This license enables Binance to offer regulated virtual asset exchange services in Dubai, affirming its commitment to compliance and collaboration with local regulators.

The Operational MVP License was granted to Binance’s Dubai subsidiary, Binance FZE, and allows the exchange to offer services approved by VARA, including exchange and broker-dealer services. These services are initially available to institutional and qualified retail investors in Dubai.

The issuance of this license follows Binance’s successful attainment of a provisional MVP license in March 2022 and a preparatory MVP license in September 2022. VARA has now permitted Binance to operate two licensed activities: virtual asset exchange services and virtual asset broker-dealer services.

The progression from the Provisional License to an Operational MVP License means eligible users in Dubai can now access authorized services, including the ability to safely convert virtual assets to fiat, under VARA-designated standards compliant with the Financial Action Task Force.

Richard Teng, Head of Regional Markets at Binance, commented, “We are honored to be the first exchange to be granted an operational Minimum Viable Product License by VARA — a result of over a year of due diligence, collaboration, and consistent demonstration of responsible intent.”

The UAE’s embrace of blockchain technology has created a thriving industry with security and innovation at its core. Binance’s achievement in securing this license sets a precedent for positive collaboration in the rapidly-evolving financial technology landscape.

Alexander Chehade, Binance Dubai’s General Manager, noted, “With this operational MVP license, all users onboarded through this platform can expect access to a trusted and regulated service that prioritizes security alongside compliance with highly specialized, tier-one virtual asset regulations under VARA.”

While Binance has achieved success in Dubai, it has faced regulatory challenges in other countries. Binance withdrew its license application in Germany after BaFin denied the application. The exchange has also withdrawn license applications in Austria, the Netherlands, and Cyprus.

Image source: Shutterstock


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Thailand’s SEC enhances investor protection with new cryptocurrency trading rules.

Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has introduced new guidelines to strengthen investor protection in the cryptocurrency industry. The SEC has mandated clearer disclosure of risk warnings and restrictions on digital asset business operators’ deposit and lending services.

The rules, endorsed during meetings in September, December of 2022, as well as May of 2023, require cryptocurrency business operators to explicitly inform potential investors about the inherent risks involved in trading. Customers must acknowledge these risks and provide consent before commencing trading, following an investment suitability assessment and appropriate investment proportions.

The second part of the new regulations prohibits digital asset business operators from providing or supporting deposit taking and lending services, with certain exceptions. These rules will take effect on August 30, 2023, and prohibit offering returns on digital asset deposits unless it falls under promotional activities defined by the SEC.

Additionally, the regulations prohibit any actions aimed at persuading or advertising deposit taking and lending services to the general public, including those provided by other entities.


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US Court Backs IRS in Part Against Kraken Over Tax Rules

The United States District Court, Northern District of California, has partially upheld a summons issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to Payward Ventures, Inc. and its subsidiaries, collectively known as “Kraken“. Kraken, a prominent online crypto exchange, has been under scrutiny for its compliance with tax regulations.

The court order comes after Kraken failed to comply with an IRS summons, leading to the United States initiating legal action to enforce it. The court’s decision to grant the petition in part and deny it in part marks a crucial juncture in this ongoing case.

Kraken, known for its global reach, offers its digital currency exchange services to users in over 190 countries. The platform provides a variety of account levels, including Starter, Express, Intermediate, and Pro, each requiring different levels of user verification. While the Starter and Express accounts offer limited services and require lower levels of verification, the Intermediate and Pro accounts offer a wider variety of transaction types and higher withdrawal limits, necessitating additional user verification.

The IRS investigation into Kraken was triggered by concerns over tax compliance issues related to cryptocurrency. These concerns were highlighted in reports by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2013 and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) in 2016. The reports identified several tax compliance risks associated with virtual currencies, including underreporting of income and tax evasion.

In response to these concerns, the IRS expanded its Electronic Payment Systems Initiative (EPSI) to address U.S. taxpayers who use virtual currencies for tax avoidance purposes. As part of this initiative, the IRS established a Virtual Currency Issue Team (VCIT) to study the issue and consider the compliance impact related to virtual currencies. The summons to Kraken is part of the tools being used in this investigation.


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New York Attorney General Recovers $1.7 Million from CoinEx for Operating Illegally

New York Attorney General Letitia James has successfully recovered over $1.7 million from CoinEx (COINEX) following a lawsuit against the cryptocurrency platform. CoinEx was found to be operating without the necessary registration as a securities and commodities broker-dealer and falsely representing itself as a crypto exchange. The resolution of the lawsuit requires CoinEx to refund more than $1.1 million to New York investors and pay over $600,000 in penalties to the state.

As part of the consent order, CoinEx is now banned from offering securities and commodities transactions in New York and prohibited from providing its platform in the state. In response to the lawsuit, CoinEx has publicly announced its withdrawal from the United States. Attorney General James has been actively working to enhance oversight and regulation of cryptocurrency companies to safeguard New York investors, resulting in over $500 million recovered from the cryptocurrency industry.

Attorney General James stressed the risks associated with unregistered crypto platforms, highlighting the importance of compliance with New York’s laws. She reiterated her commitment to crack down on crypto companies that disregard the law, deceive investors, and put New Yorkers at risk.

CoinEx, a Hong Kong-based virtual currency trading platform, allowed investors to buy and sell cryptocurrency without registering as a securities and commodities broker-dealer, a requirement under New York law. An investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) confirmed that individuals with New York-based IP addresses could easily access and utilize CoinEx’s services.

Under the terms of the settlement, CoinEx is obliged to provide full refunds totaling $1,172,971.50 to 4,691 investors in New York. The refunds can be received as cryptocurrency directly from CoinEx within the next 90 days. After this period, eligible investors can request their refund in U.S. currency by contacting OAG. The refund amount will be based on the cryptocurrency or its cash equivalent held in the investors’ accounts as of April 25, 2023.

CoinEx must also implement geoblocking measures to prevent New York IP addresses from accessing its platform. In addition, the company is prohibited from creating new accounts for U.S. customers, and existing U.S. customers are only allowed to withdraw their cryptocurrency holdings from the platform.

This settlement is part of Attorney General James’ ongoing efforts to enforce New York laws within the cryptocurrency industry. Recent actions include the introduction of comprehensive cryptocurrency legislation, the recovery of $4.3 million from Coin Cafe for defrauding investors, and lawsuits against KuCoin, Nexo, and the former CEO of Celsius. The Attorney General has consistently emphasized the importance of accurately declaring and paying taxes on virtual investments and urges affected individuals to report deceptive conduct in virtual asset markets.

Assistant Attorney General Shantelee Christie, along with Legal Assistants Charmaine Blake and Edward Jaffe, and Senior Detective Investigator Brian Metz, handled the matter within the Investor Protection Bureau. The Bureau operates under the Division of Economic Justice, overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General Chris D’Angelo and First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy, with Bureau Chief Shamiso Maswoswe and Deputy Bureau Chief Kenneth Haim leading the Investor Protection Bureau.


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Binance set to reenter Japanese crypto market

Binance, one of the most prominent cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, is planning to make a comeback to the Japanese cryptocurrency market after its recent acquisition of the licensed cryptocurrency trading platform Sakura trading Bitcoin (SEBC). Binance’s purchase of SEBC was finalized in November 2022, and the company plans to rebrand the SEBC platform as the Japanese version of Binance in June 2023.

A story that was published in a regional daily said that SEBC would stop providing its existing cryptocurrency exchange and trading services on May 31, 2023. The message did not include an announcement about a date for the formal debut of Binance Japan. Users of the SEBC exchange have until the deadline of May 28, 2023 to remove their cash from the exchange. By the 5th of June, any funds that are still present in these accounts will be automatically converted into Japanese yen and transferred to the users’ respective bank accounts. Users of the Japanese version of the cryptocurrency exchange Binance will soon be required to go through updated identity verification and Know Your Customer checks.

Nearly five years have passed since Binance’s initial attempt to obtain an independent license in Japan was unsuccessful. The company has now reentered the Japanese market through an acquired entity. In 2018, Binance was forced to halt its operations in Japan after receiving warnings from banking officials that it was doing business without proper regulatory permission. However, the exchange platform has been successful in mending its relations with regulators and returning to other markets through the acquisition of stakes in regulated entities.

Binance was able to successfully rejoin the Malaysian cryptocurrency market by obtaining a share in a regulated exchange platform. This occurred prior to Binance’s comeback into the Japanese market. The stock exchange also reentered the market in Singapore by purchasing an 18% interest in a stock exchange that is regulated. In a similar manner, the cryptocurrency platform was able to get access to the sterling payment network in the United Kingdom via a collaboration with Paysafe, despite the fact that authorities had denied the platform access to the same network.

Japan was one of the first countries to implement cryptocurrency rules, and its regulatory standards have always been seen as being particularly stringent. Nonetheless, the country has since loosened some of the regulatory requirements that must be met by cryptocurrency platforms, making it simpler to list new cryptocurrency tokens. Binance’s reintroduction into the Japanese market is a major milestone in the cryptocurrency industry of that nation, and it emphasizes the need of regulatory compliance for enterprises that operate in this area.


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Bermuda Remains Committed to Crypto Despite FTX Collapse

Bermuda’s Premier and Finance Minister, Edward Burt, has affirmed the territory’s commitment to digital assets and blockchain technology, despite the collapse of crypto exchange FTX in nearby Bahamas in November 2022. Burt believes that the future of finance is digital, and there are still considerable benefits to be gained from these technologies. He noted that regulations in Bermuda have a minimal impact on the territory, and the regulations are clear and won’t change for any company.

Bermuda, a self-governing territory with a parliamentary government, was one of the first places to implement a regulatory framework for digital assets. It is just 915 miles away from the Bahamas, where FTX once operated, and Burt reportedly faced intense political pressure before the exchange’s failure as it chose the Bahamas instead of Bermuda for its headquarters. However, according to Burt, the latest events in the crypto industry had a minimal impact on the territory thanks to its regulations.

Burt recently met with United States lawmakers and government officials in Washington to discuss common standards for digital assets, as well as topics related to Bermuda’s finance and insurance sectors. He believes that regulators worldwide must work together to provide clarity for emergent technologies.

Despite the challenges, Bermuda continues to show a strong interest in digital assets. The territory recently released its first stablecoin, powered by the Polygon blockchain, in December 2022. The stablecoin focuses on enabling real-time settlements using a stablecoin with a 1:1 peg to the U.S. dollar.

Bermuda’s regulatory framework for digital assets has made it an attractive destination for crypto and blockchain companies. The territory’s government is actively encouraging companies to set up shop there and has implemented measures to streamline the registration process. In addition to the regulatory framework, Bermuda has a strong infrastructure, including high-speed internet, and skilled professionals in finance and technology.

Burt’s affirmation of Bermuda’s commitment to digital assets and blockchain technology is a positive sign for the crypto industry, which has faced significant regulatory challenges in recent years. The territory’s stable regulatory framework and commitment to innovation demonstrate that there are places where crypto and blockchain companies can thrive while adhering to regulations.


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Binance.US Halts BUSD Services Amid Investigation

In the midst of ongoing global banking turmoil, Binance.US has announced the temporary suspension of some services related to its BUSD stablecoin pairs via the One Common Billing System (OCBS). The suspension affects BUSD crypto deposits and withdrawals, as well as buying, selling, and converting crypto options, according to a status notice on the Binance.US dashboard. The company has stated that it is currently investigating the issue and that the services are “suspended temporarily.”

This announcement follows the platform’s temporary suspension of Apple Pay and Google Pay deposits on March 30, as the company is transitioning to new banking and payment service providers over the next few weeks. Additionally, Binance.US has also halted debit card deposits for up to 5% of its customers starting from March 30, 2023. However, the platform has assured its customers that it is working to restore all services as soon as possible.

The temporary suspension of BUSD services via OCBS comes at a time when Binance.US’ global affiliate, Binance, is facing legal action from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The CFTC has filed a suit against Binance and its CEO, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, for alleged trading violations, citing the exchange’s failure to meet compliance obligations by not registering with the regulator.

Binance.US was launched in September 2019 as a separate entity from Binance, which is not available to U.S. users due to local regulations. Catherine Coley, the first CEO of Binance.US, has reportedly enlisted the services of a former federal prosecutor and top cop at the CFTC to represent her in the U.S. government’s investigations into Binance.US. Since leaving Binance.US in June 2021, Coley has remained silent about her whereabouts in the media and has not posted anything on her Twitter.

Binance.US’ temporary suspension of BUSD services via OCBS is likely a precautionary measure in light of the legal action taken against its global affiliate. As the company investigates the issue and transitions to new banking and payment service providers, customers may experience some disruption in their BUSD-related transactions. However, Binance.US has reassured its customers that it is working to restore all services as soon as possible.

In recent years, Binance has become one of the largest and most well-known cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, but its growth has not been without controversy. The exchange has faced scrutiny from regulators in various jurisdictions, and its relationship with certain governments has been strained due to concerns over money laundering and other illegal activities. Nonetheless, Binance and its affiliates continue to operate and expand their services, with new offerings and features being introduced regularly.

Overall, Binance.US’ decision to halt certain BUSD services temporarily is likely a prudent response to the ongoing uncertainty and legal issues surrounding the global cryptocurrency industry. As the company navigates these challenges and works to restore full functionality to its platform, customers can continue to trade and invest in cryptocurrencies with confidence, knowing that their assets are secure and protected.


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Bybit suspends USD bank transfers amid service outages

Bybit, a Dubai-based cryptocurrency exchange, has announced that it is temporarily suspending United States dollar (USD) deposits via bank transfers in response to “service outages from a partner.” According to a blog post from March 4, USD deposits via wire transfer are no longer available, but users can still make USD deposits through the Advcash Wallet or with a credit card. Withdrawals through the Advcash Wallet are scheduled to be available soon, according to the exchange.

Bybit has reassured users that their funds are safe and secure, but is urging clients planning to withdraw USD to do so “as soon as possible to avoid potential disruptions.” The halt comes just a day after Silvergate Bank announced plans to discontinue its digital assets’ payment network, which was one of the major on- and off-ramps for USD in the American crypto industry.

Bybit is one of the companies with exposure to the crypto lender Genesis Global Trading, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Jan. 20. According to Bybit CEO Ben Zhou, the exposure amounts to $150 million via its investment arm Mirana Asset Management. A total of $120 million of the funds were collateralized and had already been liquidated, according to Zhou. He also assured that all client funds go into separate accounts and that Bybit’s earn products do not use Mirana.

The regulatory pressure and market outflows following the dramatic collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX in November 2022 are driving US banks to reduce their exposure to cryptocurrency assets. Last month, Binance announced that it would temporarily suspend bank transfers of US dollars. In January, the exchange also said that its SWIFT transfer partner, Signature Bank, would only process trades by users with USD bank accounts over $100,000. Signature Bank previously announced that it was drastically decreasing crypto deposits.

While Bybit has suspended USD deposits via bank transfer, users can still make deposits through the Advcash Wallet or with a credit card. Bybit has assured users that their funds are safe and secure, but is urging clients to withdraw USD as soon as possible to avoid potential disruptions. The halt comes amid regulatory pressure and market outflows in the wake of the collapse of FTX and the bankruptcy of Genesis Global Trading.


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Indonesia’s State-Backed Crypto Exchange: An Analysis

The decision made by Indonesia’s government to launch a cryptocurrency exchange that will be supported by the state is a major step towards the promotion of a crypto market in Indonesia that is more safe and transparent. As the cryptocurrency business continues to be plagued by scams and fraud, it is anticipated that the newly established exchange in the nation will address the need for more regulatory monitoring and investor safety.

In its pursuit to position itself as a regional powerhouse in the cryptocurrency business, Indonesia has taken a courageous step by launching a cryptocurrency exchange that would be supported by the state. The country aims to promote greater transparency and accountability in the cryptocurrency market by setting new regulations that require at least two-thirds of management to be Indonesians residing in the country, storing client funds in bank accounts held by third parties, and prohibiting exchanges from reinvesting in crypto assets.

In addition, it is anticipated that the state-backed cryptocurrency exchange would enhance crypto acceptance in Indonesia, which has experienced substantial rise in transactions involving crypto assets over the course of the previous year. It is anticipated that the exchange would entice a greater number of individual investors, institutional investors, and blockchain initiatives, all of which will stimulate innovation and contribute to the expansion of the nation’s economy.

The success of the cryptocurrency exchange that is sponsored by the Indonesian government will rely on a number of things, including the strength of the laws, the faith that investors have in the exchange, and the exchange’s capacity to combat fraudulent activity. On the other hand, if Indonesia puts in place the appropriate rules and tactics, it has the potential to become a key participant in the cryptocurrency business and to foster a market that is more safe and transparent for investors.


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