California: Crypto exchange Bittrex, founded in 2014 by three Amazon alumni, is shutting down its US operations, citing a regulatory environment that has made it “no longer feasible” to operate in the country.
In a tweet, Bittrex co-founder and US CEO Richie Lai said it’s “not economically viable for us to continue to operate in the current US regulatory and economic environment.” All customer funds are available to withdraw until the end of April, and its global business outside the US will continue to operate.
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Bittrex is the latest digital-asset firm leaving the country amid heightened regulatory scrutiny over the industry. Last December, crypto lender Nexo also announced departure from the US market after facing cease-and-desist orders from multiple states over its interest-earning products. The US Securities and Exchange Commission has brought a flurry of enforcement actions this year, rattling both big and smaller companies in the industry, including Genesis Global Capital, Gemini Trust and Kraken.
Last October, Bittrex was fined $53 million by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and Financial Crime Enforcement Network for failing to prevent customers in Iran, Cuba and other sanctioned nations from using its platform. The company said at the time that it’s “pleased to have fully resolved this matter with OFAC and FinCEN on mutually agreeable terms.” In 2019, Bittrex was told by New York regulators to cease operations in the state, citing concerns over its ability to detect money laundering and comply with sanctions.
Bittrex’s trading volume in the last 24-hour is about $17 million, according to data from CoinGecko. That compares with Coinbase Global Inc.’s volume at $1.4 billion.
Bill Shihara, a former security engineering manager at Amazon, co-founded Bittrex in 2014 with a pair of fellow cybersecurity specialists from the online retailer, according to the venue’s website. Bittrex has “never lost funds or been hacked,” said Lai in the tweet on Friday.