Bitmain-Backed Cryptocurrency Startup Matrixport to Open Zurich Office

Matrixport, a Singapore-based crypto startup launched by former Bitmain CEO Jihan Wu, will expand its services from Asia to Europe through its new Zurich office.

Registered under the name of Chaintech in Switzerland, Matrixport will begin offering its trading, lending and custody services in the country, Swiss-centred publication reports on Nov. 26.

The European expansion news comes less than five months after Wu launched Matrixport in July to offer over-the-counter trading, lending and custody services for crypto. The firm hired dozens of former Bitmain staff that were laid off from Bitmain as a result of the bear market of 2018. 

Hui Wang, the CEO of Matrixport in Switzerland, told that the company plans to hire up to 10 employees within the next two years. She also emphasized that Matrixport’s new office in Zurich will not act to simply refer clients to Asia, but will provide full service to European clients.

Bitmain branch to close doors

Meanwhile, Bitmain’s Swiss subsidiary in Zug — Bitmain Switzerland — is poised to shut down, according to The branch was launched in late 2018 to boost the company’s global reach alongside other operations in Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, Qingdao, Chengdu, Shanghai and Shenzhen, as Reuters previously reported.

Founded in 2013, Bitmain is one of the largest Bitcoin (BTC) mining pools globally. After the company failed its $3 billion initial public offering (IPO) on the Hong Kong stock exchange, it reportedly filed for an IPO with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in late October 2019.

Cointelegraph News

Office of Chinese Crypto Exchange BISS Closed, Staff Members Arrested

Chinese authorities shut down local cryptocurrency exchange BISS and arrested 10 people suspected of being involved in its operations.

Local media Sohu reported on the actions undertaken by Chinese authorities on Nov. 22. However, the date at which the event itself took place is unclear.

The same day, founding partner of blockchain-based investment company Primitive Ventures Dovey Wan said on Twitter that the local cryptocurrency community had known of the development for two weeks. However, the news was published much later. She also claimed that the Beijing-based exchange in question is noteworthy:

“It’s a relatively known up-and-rising exchange.”

In a blog post published on Nov. 18, the exchange addressed user withdrawal issues. The firm also confirmed that Chinese authorities have halted operations:

“According to market sources, it is understood that BISS’ operations have been halted following an enquiry by China’s regulatory authorities around its services offered to users, which may not be aligned with capital controls regulations in China.”

The company claimed in the announcement that operations had halted while the authorities looked into the case to safeguard user interests. Lastly, the exchange also noted that it intends to cooperate fully with Chinese law enforcement.

China’s crackdown on local crypto exchanges

As Cointelegraph reported last week, Shenzhen authorities identified a total of 39 exchanges falling afoul of China’s cryptocurrency trading ban.

Furthermore, the Chinese technology capital of Shenzhen recently issued a warning against illegal activities involving cryptocurrencies, including cryptocurrency exchanges.

Source Cointelegraph

Bithumb Quashes Shanghai Office Closure Rumors After Binance Denial

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb is denying recent reports that Chinese authorities have raided its Shanghai offices.

On Nov. 21, a Bithumb spokesperson informed the Block that the recent rumors of a police raid and closure of the exchange’s Shanghai offices are false and that its one and only Shanghai team continues to operate “steadily without pause.”

Yesterday, Chinese media reportedly wrote that the South Korean crypto exchange had told its employees to take a long vacation, without informing them about any specific date on when to return to work. Bithumb has now denied these news reports.

Binance is also denying media reports

Leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance also came forward refuting media reports that claimed that Chinese police had raided and subsequently shut down the exchange’s Shanghai offices, which according to the exchange, “don’t even exist:”

“The Binance team is a global movement consisting of people working in a decentralized manner wherever they are in the world. Binance has no fixed offices in Shanghai or China, so it makes no sense that police raided on any offices and shut them down.”

A Binance spokesperson told Cointelegraph that the exchange is apparently being targeted in the Chinese media, pointing to the “recent spike in the number of negative articles and activities against Binance” in the country. Binance further said:

“We also encourage our friends from the media to verify if their ‘sources’ are telling the truth or presenting their own agenda.”

Crypto markets take a dive amid reports

The rumors of police raids and closure of Binance and Bithumb offices were accompanied by a sharp drop in cryptocurrency prices, which at press time, were continuing to find lower lows. The world’s largest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin (BTC), for example, took a significant hit of around 5% on the day, trading at around $7,640 per coin.

Cointelegraph News

Markets Crash After Reports That Binance’s Shanghai Office Closed in Crypto Crackdown

Chinese authorities have reportedly raided and shut down the Shanghai offices of leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance. 

Citing unnamed local sources, The Block says that local police have shut down Binance’s offices after raiding the premises. Between 50–100 of the exchange’s employees reportedly worked out of the Shanghai location.

Binance has not responded to Cointelegraph’s requests for comment as of press time. 

Closure follows crackdown 

The purported raid follows a crackdown on cryptocurrency-related businesses and activities in the country. 

Recently, financial authorities in China issued a notice to the public, directing individuals to report businesses engaged in virtual asset trading to the Shanghai headquarters of the People’s Bank of China — the country’s central bank. Activities that must be reported include:

“Virtual currency transactions in the territory; the other is to issue ‘xx coins’ and ‘xx’ in the form of ‘blockchain application scenarios.’  Currency, fundraising or bitcoin, virtual currency such as Ethereum; third, providing services such as publicity, diversion, agency trading, etc. for registered ICO projects, virtual currency trading platforms, etc.” 

Notice from authorities on cryptocurrency-related activities. Source: Chain News

However, Binance told Cointelegraph that the company had not received this notice. Similarly, Beijing-founded Huobi told Cointelegraph that the company was familiar with the notice, but had not received it.

Offices are an outdated concept?

In a move of regulatory arbitrage, Binance opened offices in Malta in 2018 as the island nation ramped up its cryptocurrency-friendly regulatory projects.

Last month, rumors abounded that the exchange was opening offices in the Chinese capital of Beijing, despite the country’s decidedly anti-cryptocurrency stance. 

However, according to the firm’s CEO Changpeng Zhao, offices themselves are an antiquated concept. In a tweet on Nov. 19, Zhao said, “Office and HQ are old concepts like SMS and MMS. Time is moving on…” 

Markets react with major coins seeing red

Cryptocurrency markets have reacted to the news, with most major coins seeing significant losses on the day.

Cryptocurrency market visualization. Source: Coin360

Bitcoin (BTC) is seeing losses over 6% while leading altcoin Ether (ETH) has lost over 8% in the last 24 hours. Altcoins like Litecoin (LTC) and EOS are taking a beating with over 9% losses, while Binance’s own coin, Binance Coin (BNB), is down 10% at press time to trade at $16.58.

Source Cointelegraph

Binance Rumored to Be Planning New Office in Beijing in First Presence in China Since 2017

Major crypto exchange Binance may be returning to China, with a planned office to open in Beijing, sources say.

Binance in exile

Binance, which left China in September 2017 in response to the country’s ban on crypto trading, is looking to open a new office in Beijing to accompany one operating in Shanghai, two unnamed sources told Coindesk, Oct. 31. 

As of press time, sources at Binance had not confirmed to Cointelegraph plans to establish a new Beijing office, but did say that there were a number of Binance employees currently operating in the Chinese capital. 

The move follows a series of events indicating warming relations between the company and the country, where it was founded by Changpeng Zhao in 2017 before its move to Malta. Indeed, Binance is one of many companies in the crypto industry that seem to be growing friendlier with China.  

In September of this year, Cointelegraph reported on Binance making its first major investment in China since leaving the country. The company took part in a $200 million round of funding for Chinese crypto and blockchain publication Mars Finance.

Crypto thaw in China?

Crypto markets shook on Oct. 25 following Chinese President Xi Jingping’s announcement of support for blockchain innovation in the country. On Oct. 26, Bitcoin (BTC) reported daily gains of upwards of 36% — over 42% according to some exchanges — in what many saw as a result of Xi’s professed support.

Disclaimer: Cointelegraph will update this story in the event of further comment from Binance.

Source Cointelegraph

US CFTC Turns Its Fintech Lab Into an Independent Office in D.C.

The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) gives its fintech research unit LabCFTC status as an independent operating office.

Blockchain and digital assets are an important part of development

Established by the CFTC in 2017 with the goal of engaging with the fintech community, LabCFTC will now be reporting directly to the authority’s chairman Heath Tarbert. He announced the news at the CFTC’s annual conference Fintech Forward on Oct. 24.

In the announcement, Tarbert noted that engagement with blockchain and digital assets are part of LabCFTC’s commitment to representing a beacon in the emerging world of fintech. He said:

“Blockchain, digital assets, and other developments hold great promise for our economy. Now is the time for LabCFTC to play an even greater role as we work to develop and write the rules for these transformative new products. That reality requires engagement at the highest levels within the CFTC, which is why I am elevating LabCFTC to be an independent operating office of the agency and a direct report to me.”

LabCFTC director: regulators are responsible for progress in innovation

Founded by then-chairman Chris Giancarlo, LabCFTC is currently led by director and CIO Melissa Netram. Netram was an exec of regulatory affairs at Silicon Valley-based financial services firm Intuit before Tarbert appointed her to the new position. According to Netram, LabCFTC’s new status demonstrates its growth and importance, as well as the CFTC’s positive stance to innovation by the CFTC.

Netram emphasized that regulators are responsible for the progress of financial innovation, noting that LabCFTC makes the agency accessible to fintech innovators.

LabCFTC Artificial Intelligence Primer

In addition to LabCFTC’s new status, the office also released its primer on artificial intelligence in financial markets. The primer is a public educational tool for market participants and consumers, and is part of LabCFTC’s effort to provide information about fintech innovation to the public.

Also today, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced that the authority alongside CFTC, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have joined the Global Financial Innovation Network.

Source Cointelegraph

US Attorney’s Office Indicts Two Suspects in EtherDelta Hack

The United States attorney’s office for the Northern District of California has indicted two suspects — Elliot Gunton and Anthony Tyler Nashatka — for hacking EtherDelta, a non-custodial marketplace for trading Ethereum (ETH) ERC-20 tokens, in December 2017.

According to the documents originally filed on Aug. 13, Ganton and Nashatka changed the settings of EtherDelta’s domain name system to mislead users and collect their crypto addresses, private keys and to withdraw funds.

A fake website

The suspects managed to gain access to the settings using the phone number of one of the EtherDelta employees and used it to hack their email address. After that, Gunton and Nashatka reportedly changed the parameters of the domain system in such a way as to redirect traffic from EtherDelta to a fake website that resembled a real EtherDelta platform.

Visitors of this fake website could reveal their private keys and potentially lose their cryptocurrency assets. According to the prosecution, the losses of one of the EtherDelta users amounted to at least $800,000. The total amount of stolen funds was not disclosed in the court document.

As Cointelegraph reported in August, Chinese police was reportedly investigating EtherDelta in connection with an apparent exit scam.

Source Cointelegraph

Los Angeles Mayor’s Office Hosts Blockchain Startup Competition

The Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Budget & Innovation and the city’s Information Technology Agency (ITALA) have partnered with Goren Holm Ventures (GHV) to host a blockchain startup contest called Block Tank.

According to a Goren Holm Ventures press release published on Sept. 16, the event will take place in front of a panel of celebrity judges at investment-focused blockchain conference CIS.

Investing in local innovation

Winners will receive a $25,000 minimum investment offer from GHV and a $25,000 pilot project with the city. Ted Ross, the City of Los Angeles’ CIO, said:

“Utilizing cutting-edge technologies to improve the lives of Los Angelenos has always been a priority for ITALA. […] We’re excited for our partnership with GHV to explore and source blockchain solutions at CIS.”

The areas eligible for the pilot project are environmental sustainability, online voting and secure resident IDs. Four startups will be chosen by the city to be judged by the panel including billionaire investor and Bitcoin (BTC) proponent Tim Draper, who recently said that a $250,000 price prediction for Bitcoin is conservative. More judges will be announced after their participation is confirmed.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier today, information technology service management giant Gartner foresees blockchain becoming transformative for most industries within 10 years.

Source Cointelegraph

Chinese Police Reportedly Close Office of ICO Startup

The offices of Chinese initial coin offering (ICO) startup GXChain have reportedly been closed by the local police.

On Sept. 11, Dovey Wan — founding partner of blockchain-based investment company Primitive Ventures — tweeted a photo of an office taped closed (presumably by Chinese police) and announced that GXChain “got clamped down by the Chinese police.” She also said that she believes the project to be notable and legitimate:

“GXChain was a very hot ICO back in the days with ATH market cap over $600M (even now still holds $48M) and considered to be among the very few legit ICOs.”

Photo of sealed office

Photo of sealed office. Source: Dovey Wan Tweet

GXChain’s business model a possible reason

In a subsequent tweet, Wan also suggests that the field in which the startup operates — selling processed personal credit data — may be the reason behind the closure. She said:

“I have no idea why the police took action against GXchain instead of 10,000 other Chinese scams, as GXchain has a real business behind. The trigger might be their data business — they sell processed personal credit data, which is a highly sensitive area now in China.”

As Cointelegraph reported in August, Chinese police are reportedly investigating non-custodial token trading platform EtherDelta in connection with an apparent exit scam.

Source Cointelegraph