Crypto exchange Bittrex exits US market amid regulatory woes
Bittrex said on Friday it plans to wind down operations in the United States and voluntarily liquidate because of the uncertain regulatory environment surrounding their business.
Customers of the exchange will be able to withdraw their assets and Bittrex encouraged them to do so within 30 days. Specifically, the platform will suspend trading on April 14, 2023, but customers can withdraw all their verified balances by April 30, 2023.
“It’s just not economically viable for us to continue to operate in the current U.S. regulatory and economic environment. Regulatory requirements are often unclear and enforced without appropriate discussion or input, resulting in an uneven competitive landscape. Operating in the U.S. is no longer feasible,” said Bittrex co-founder and CEO Ritchie Lai.
Bittrex Inc. is a Seattle-based cryptocurrency exchange that lets users swap nearly 250 digital assets. Like other cryptocurrency companies, its non-US arm, Bittrex Global, has domiciled itself in the tax-friendly jurisdiction of Liechtenstein.
Thank you everyone…. <3 ;( pic.twitter.com/kq8nTRT0Aj
— Richie Lai (@richiela) March 31, 2023
Having started operations nine years ago, Bittrex is ranked within the top 25 centralized exchanges in market volume. The exchange platform is available in over 50 countries and processes an average daily transaction volume of $23 million. Bittrex was established in 2014 by cybersecurity engineers Bill Shihara, Richie Lai and Rami Kawach.
Earlier in 2019, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) rejected granting its BitLicense to Bittrex, citing deficiencies in its AML rules and compliance program, as well as due diligence and controls over its token and product launches.
The decision to shutter the US business comes after a number of crypto firms have been hit with civil lawsuits over the past few months. That led some major American exchanges to look to international markets to drive growth amid fears of a looming clampdown on crypto businesses in the US.
The Securities and Exchange Commission threatened a potential enforcement action against the US biggest crypto exchange earlier this month. Coinbase received a letter from the SEC known as a Wells notice, which serves as a warning for the company that regulators identified potential violations of federal securities laws or investor protection rules.
Binance and its CEO Changpeng Zhao were also sued by the CFTC earlier this week and it’s proposed acquisition of Voyager’s asset was put on hold. Kraken, another US-based crypto exchange, settled with the SEC last month after being accused of not registering under securities laws.