Dubai: BitOasis, the Dubai-based cryptocurrency exchange which allows customers to buy and sell Bitcoin in exchange for dirhams or dollars, has told its users they will not be able to withdraw or deposit dirhams after June 4.
The announcement follows the company’s communication last week to customers, informing them that they had 24 hours to initiate a dirham transaction before the service was no longer available.
In a blog post on Sunday, Bitoasis said it had “been able to confirm the extension of deposits and withdrawals in AED [dirhams] for our customers until June 4th.”
The Middle East’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, BitOasis added that it was “working hard on providing alternative payment options ahead of June 4th, which we hope will be satisfactory to our customers.”
It did not provide any additional details on the alternative payment options it was seeking to introduce, with much of the statement focusing on the company’s collaboration with the government’s regulators.
In January, local bank Emirates NBD began blocking customers’ transactions from the exchange.
BitOasis said Emirates NBD has started “randomly returning or blocking our customers’ transfers and withdrawals due to an internal policy within the bank that is out of our control."
In response to BitOasis, Emirates NBD's spokesperson told Gulf News in a statement at the time that the bank does not restrict customers who deal with blockchain-based trading platforms including transactions with BitOasis, but it has systems in place to detect and act against any “money laundering, terrorist financing and breaches of international sanctions.”
“It is therefore possible that some transactions associated with Bitcoin may be rejected by Emirates NBD or as a result of rejections by other domestic or international correspondent banks,” said an official Emirates NBD spokesperson.
In the latest blow to the company, which operates in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, BitOasis has this week blamed its issuing bank for the decision to halt withdrawals and deposits in dirhams.
Prakash Kalaimani, a BitOasis customer, complained on social media platform Twitter about the suspension, stating he was likely to lose money on his investment if he was forced to sell now.
“I am very unhappy... [it] is so unfair. we purchased in high price and if we sell and withdraw the money, than it will be the loss,” Kalaimani tweeted.
Currently, one Bitcoin is worth Dh30,548, down from a high in December 2017 of over Dh70,000.
In response, BitOasis told Kalaimani that dirham wire withdrawals would be re-enabled soon, without providing a specific timeline.
However, in its initial statement to its customers, the company said that “currently we do not have any date on when we will be reactivating AED fiat withdrawals,” but added that it was working hard to find a solution.
After the initial issues with local banks in January, BitOasis told Gulf News that it was “actively engaging” with the UAE’s banks and regulators, and had received a “positive” response from them.
In the company’s latest statement published on Sunday, the company said that being at the forefront of such a nascent technology meant facing “new challenges as we try to grow and educate all stakeholders in the market.”