Could Bitfinex, the world’s largest, Hong-Kong based cryptocurrency exchange, be headed for a Mt. Gox-style collapse? It’s kicking off to look that way.
When Mt. Gox very first halted customer withdrawals ter February 2014, it waited more than two weeks to admit the truth to its customers: that hackers had stolen more than $450 million of their assets, leaving the exchange bankrupt and them holding the bag. That hack effectively crippled the entire digital currency ecosystem, ushering ter a two-year bear market that at one point carried the bitcoin price below $200, from what wasgoed then a record high north of $1,200 reached te November 2013.
So when another exchange engages ter similarly shady behavior – withholding critical information about customer funds, or failing to produce audited financials despite promising to do so – it should prompt crypto traders to ask themselves why, with dozens, if not hundreds, of cryptocurrency exchanges operating around the world, they’re choosing to do business with this one.
That’s the question that customers of Bitfinex should be asking almost two weeks after the exchange, merienda one of the world’s largest, very first exposed that it had bot cut off from sending outbound dollar-denominated wires to its customers.
Of course, halting customer withdrawals isn’t uncommon te the cryptocurrency world: All three of China’s largest exchanges suspended customer withdrawals te February. And last year, kraken, one of the thickest U.S.-based exchanges, suspended withdrawals temporarily because of a glitch te its trading software. But this freeze is particularly troubling because, like Mt. Gox, Bitfinex inexplicably determined to wait before informing customers of a critical problem. It also has implications that open up beyond the bitcoin market, to another cryptotoken called tether that wasgoed launched by Bitfinex back te January 2018, and has since bot dogged by allegations that it’s a scam.
The halt is already costing Bitfinex’s customers money. On Tuesday, bitcoins were going for $1,547 on Bitfinex’s toneelpodium, a premium of more than $100 overheen most of the other popular exchanges. Investors, evidently, feel that eating a 7%-8% loss is preferable to leaving their assets ter Bitfinex’s care any longer.
Reddit users reported that wire transfers requested spil early spil March 9 were cancelled, and that the exchange suggested only vague excuses spil to why. It took the exchange until April 13, after it had filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo & Co., whose verslaggever banking division had effectively shut Bitfinex out of the general financial system, that the exchange disclosed the problem to its customers.
And while Bitfinex has repeatedly said it would make things right – it has promised to either establish a fresh banking relationship and to permit customers access to other fiat currencies – only a handful of customers have bot able to get their assets out of the exchange.
Spil part of the freeze, Bitfinex has established a moratorium on cashing te tether tokens held by its customers. Thesis tokens were created by Bitfinex te 2018 to permit customers to exchange an asset that’s pegged to the dollar at a one-to-one ratio, permitting them to avoid costly wire transfers that vereiste be processed through the banking system.
But the withdrawal freeze has waterput pressure on the tether market, for only the 2nd time since they were introduced, investors are selling thesis tokens at a discount. The price of a single token has bot languishing below the $1 level for more than a week.
This has lead some to speculate that the exchange could be commingling tether funds with other customer assets.
While evidence of this could cause irreparable harm to Bitfinex’s reputation, leading to a wave of withdrawals that could add further strain to its already thinning bitcoin reserves, spil Twitter user @Bitfinexed points out, it’s not technically a disturbance of the tether terms of service.
Here’s an resum: “There is no contractual right or other right or permitido rechtsvordering against us to redeem or exchange your tethers for money. Wij do not ensure any right of redemption or exchange of tethers by us for money. There is no assure against losses when you buy, trade, or redeem tethers.”
Given the preponderance of scams ter the cryptocurrency market, investors who toevluchthaven’t already, should most likely take what’s left of their money and run, if they can of course.