CryptoBridge Trading Platform Shuts Down After Strict KYC is Implemented

CryptoBridge, a U.S.-based decentralized cryptocurrency exchange, has announced today that it will be ceasing all operations, citing several reasons that led to their decision.

The news was announced through an official notice on the exchange’s website, stating that the decision had been made as the exchange lacks the funds to further develop and maintain operations due to market conditions and increasing regulation.

The decentralized exchange accounted for around 320,000 visitors in October, with most coming in from Russia and Bulgaria, according to web analytics firm SimilarWeb. CryptoBridge shared that its vision was to provide a gateway to decentralized cryptocurrency trading and did everything in its power to save the ship from sinking but it seems it came up short.

According to the notice, all deposits will close tomorrow – December 3rd – and withdrawals will be processed after December 15th, adding that users have to withdraw their funds in the meantime. However, the exchange mandates that a KYC (know-your-customer) process is required by the EU laws for them to process withdrawals and it advices users to start the process as early as possible as verification can take up a few days.

CryptoBridge is known for its strict KYC requirement process to complete withdrawals. Notably, two months ago CryptoBridge forced KYC on its users, who were caught by surprise as the exchange had seemingly stolen their funds and forced a hostile KYC process.

At that time, the exchange claimed to have acted under the Fifth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive, citing that it wanted to ensure that its users were not held responsible for any illegal intentions or money laundering activities.

Subsequently, this made users frustrated with the exchange as it had enforced KYC checks without any warning and were forced to reveal their identity in order to retrieve their funds. Following this, many users questioned whether the exchange was at all decentralized seeing as it now required KYC.

CryptoBridge isn’t the only exchange that had recently shut down. Coinexchange.io, a cryptocurrency exchange that has been running since 2016 also recently shut down, citing similar reasons as CryptoBridge.

Although CryptoBridge has some unique trading pairs, in the last 24 hours the exchange saw a volume of less than $75,000. Presumably, the forced KYC requirement was the last straw which led to more users leaving the exchange and further tanking its volume.

Meanwhile, the exchange noted as well that it will closing down all its social media accounts. However, a Twitter account seeming to be impersonating CryptoBridge, tweeted: “We are only temporarily shutting down. We will be opening a new and improved exchange.”

The exchange was reached for comments regarding these speculations, however hasn’t responded yet.

Poloniex Announces Acquisition of TRXMarket, a Tron-Based DEX

Cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex has just announced its acquisition of TRON-based decentralized exchange (DEX) TRXMarket. Several reports indicated that this acquisition was partly funded by TRON’s founder Justin Sun in addition to some others, who had previously invested in Poloniex Exchange with some noteworthy investment fund.

Poloniex confirmed the news via an official post on Medium, stating that it had bought TRXMarket for an undisclosed amount. According to the post, TRXMarket will operate under the umbrella of Poloniex and all of the exchange’s functions will remain the same, however, under a new name – Poloni Dex.

The post further indicated that users looking for decentralized trading services can find them on the Poloniex official website or by going straight to Poloni DEX.

Poloniex has been one of the top 3 digital currency exchanges. Founded in 2014 by Tristan D’Agosta, Poloniex is a cryptocurrency exchange that offers over 100 bitcoin (BTC) markets available for trading.

Furthermore, the platform provides its customers with a secure trading environment as well as advanced charts and data analysis tools. With no deposit or withdrawal fees, it charges a flat rate of 0.2% on all trading transactions.

In October, Poloniex spun off from Boston-headquartered Circle. Prior to this, Goldman Sachs-backed startup Circle had acquired the cryptocurrency exchange startup in February of 2018.

Poloniex noted that it had acquired TRXMarket to expand its decentralized trading ecosystem in an effort to provide its users with varied trading options – a long-term strategic design that Poloniex had been working on since 2018. This acquisition comes as a significant boost to both Tron and Poloniex as its partnership continues to create ways for more innovations within blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Meanwhile, the newly acquired TRXMarket is the first TRON-based decentralized exchange, and it executes all transactions through TRX smart contracts that are stored safely and transparently on the blockchain. The exchange does not require private keys to make a payment as users’ private assets are securely isolated from the exchange.

TRXMarket is one of the most used DEX on the TRON network, listing amongst the 127 TRON Super Representatives. In addition to that, the DEX it records, on average, a 7-day transaction volume of $30 million and has long been a top ten DApp by transaction volume according to DApp Review.

A spokesperson for Poloniex gave out a statement, in which they explained why the exchange had chosen TRXMarket, emphasizing that they had every reason to choose TRON as their underlying infrastructure over other public chains, who were slow progressing and charged high transaction fees.

“We recognize and value the rate TRON is expanding its ecosystem. Under the leadership of Justin Sun, founder of TRON, TRON’s ecosystem is growing at an exponential speed. After the official launch of TRON public chain in June 2018, within just a year, the total number of accounts on the chain of TRON has exceeded 4.1 million and the daily average number of transactions is over a million, securing a place among the top three public chains in the DAapp ecosystem.”

Korean Crypto Exchange UPbit Lost 342,000 Ether Following Hack

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange UPbit — run by a subsidiary of Korean tech giant Kakao — has been hacked, losing 342,000 Ether (ETH), around $50 million from its hot wallet.

The news has been confirmed by Lee Seok-woo – CEO of Upbit’s operator, Dunamu – via an official statement written on November 27th. The statement explained that the exchange had detected an abnormal transaction from its hot wallet to an unrecognized wallet, which led to an outflow of 342,000 ether (ETH). The exchange did not specify whether it had been hacked.

The statement read as follows:

“At 1:06 PM on November 27, 2019, 342,000 ETH (approximately 58 billion won) were transferred from the Upbit Ethereum Hot Wallet to an unknown wallet. Unknown wallet address is 0xa09871AEadF4994Ca12f5c0b6056BBd1d343c029.”

Following the incident, the exchange apologized to users for any inconveniences caused as the CEO had laid out several measures taken as a precaution. Respectively, the exchange transferred all cryptocurrencies from its hot wallet to a cold wallet and said the loss will be covered by its own corporate assets.

Meanwhile, withdrawals and deposits have already been suspended as a precaution. Later on, Upbit said it will take at least two weeks for deposit and withdrawal services to be back to normal, with Lee Seok-woo promising to inform users as soon as they reopen.

According to Whale Alert – a Twitter service that monitors blockchain transactions – the lost ETH worth $49 million at press time, was sent from Upbit’s wallet to an unknown ethereum address starting with 0xa09871 about 04:00 UTC on Wednesday.

About 30 minutes later, Upbit announced that it had temporarily suspended withdrawals and deposits due to server maintenance. Subsequently, the massive withdrawal alerts did raise suspicions, with several people on social media calling it a hack.

Whale Alert, in fact, noted several withdrawals taking place via UPbit, involving other cryptocurrencies and tokens as well, such as Tron (TRX) and BitTorrent (BTT), amongst others. In fact, more than $100 million worth of multiple cryptocurrencies have been sent out from Upbit today.

However, the exchange stated that only ETH holdings had been affected, and all other recent large-scale transactions were related to the exchange moving assets between hot and storage facilities to prevent further losses.

UPbit’s hack marks this year’s eighth breach, and the total amount stolen from cryptocurrency exchanges to date now stands at around $1.44 billion, according to data.

Meanwhile, Upbit isn’t the only South Korean exchange to have suffered loss. Earlier this year, Bithumb – the second biggest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea, fell victim to an inside job. According to previous reports, it lost about $13 million in March 2019. In total, the exchange had suffered three major security breaches. Last year, Coinrail was hacked for $40 million.

Shenzhen Investigates Fraudulent Activities Around Crypto Trading

The government of another Chinese city – Shenzhen – is now investigating cryptocurrency exchanges, who are reportedly operating illegally in the city.

According to local reports published on November 22nd, the finance bureau of Shenzhen municipality has identified 39 undisclosed cryptocurrency exchanges for inspection. Last week, the Shanghai government had carried out a similar investigation.

The investigation will also include participation from the Shenzhen branch of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the country’s central bank, as well as the Economic Investigation Bureau of the Municipal Public Security Bureau and the Municipal Communications Administration.

Meanwhile, the authorities will inspect cryptocurrency exchanges for illegal activities, including money laundering.

Following a rough translation of the report, the operation is to be carried out by focusing on three important activities:

“[…] first, providing virtual currency trading services or opening virtual currency trading places in China; second, providing service channels for overseas virtual currency trading places, including services such as drainage and agency trading; In the name of the sale of tokens, raise funds for investors or virtual currency such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.”

In addition to that, the local authorities should conclude all inspections by November 25th, according to the reports. If any exchanges are found to be violating rules, they will be required to shut down their businesses. Earlier reports hinted at the Shenzhen city targeting other entities beyond exchanges.

Last week, a similar investigation had been carried out in Shanghai by the government presiding. Cryptocurrency exchanges underwent inspection, whilst the government focused on businesses that conduct cryptocurrency trading, token sales, and distributions of tokens from overseas initial coin offerings.

Meanwhile, cryptocurrency speculation has risen in China among the recent promotion of blockchain tech by the country’s president Xi Jinping. However, after publicly voicing support for blockchain technology last month, Chinese media issued warnings not to confuse the policy for endorsement of phenomena such as Bitcoin.

China appears to be taking fresh steps to crack down on the cryptocurrency sector. Earlier this month, Chinese social media site Weibo banned the official accounts of cryptocurrency exchange Binance and blockchain project Tron Foundation, citing “violations of laws and regulations and the relevant provisions of the Weibo Community Convention.” However, the Weibo accounts of cryptocurrency exchanges Huobi and OKEx are still intact.

Respectively, all three cryptocurrency exchanges denied rumors police had raided their offices in Shanghai or that they had closed their Shanghai outposts.

“We have heard of this from some media reports. However, we have not received any specific instructions at this point,” a Huobi representative said.

On that note, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhang praised the government’s initiative as he saw the move as an effort to clean up the industry of scammers and fraudsters.

Binance Expands with Acquisition of Indian Crypto Company WazirX

The largest global cryptocurrency exchange Binance has just announced its acquisition of Indian cryptocurrency startup WazirX, a significant move in the cryptocurrency ecosystem in India.

Following the announcement, Binance will now offer the option for users to buy and sell crypto with local fiat currency Indian rupees (INR) on the Binance Fiat Gateway, starting from November 25th onwards.

Wazirx CEO Nischal Shetty has confirmed the news, stating that:

“Wazirx has now become India’s first-ever cryptocurrency exchange to be acquired by an international one.”

The Indian startup was founded in March 2018 and since then has seen substantial growth in trading volumes and adoption. WazirX revealed that they do about $30 million in monthly trading volume currently and are a top-rated mobile app in India with an average rating of 4.4 and more than 200,000 app downloads.

According to news, Binance now owns 100% of the Indian startup, however further details about the acquisition haven’t been disclosed due to a non-disclosure agreement. However, sources estimate the price of the acquisition to be within the range of $5-$10 million.

Shetty has confirmed that all 20 members of WazirX will be part of Binance, but the former will continue to run independently and focus on its mission “to involve every Indian in the crypto revolution.”

He further explained that Binance had been working towards growing the ecosystem by introducing new fiat gateways. Shetty also highlighted how the aquisition will help expand their peer-to –peer business geographically.

“Wazirx’s innovative peer-to-peer (P2P) in India attracted them. The idea is to further grow the crypto ecosystem in India and also use our technology to launch fiat gateways in more countries.”

According to earlier reports, the Indian startup launched its global operations earlier this year alongside its P2P and cryptoto-crypto transactions.
The exchange’s P2P engine will be integrated into the Binance Fiat Gateway platform within the first quarter of 2020. According to Binance, users will be able to directly place orders on the web platform or the Binance apps to purchase Tether (USDT) against INR. This integration will allow users to trade any digital asset available on Binance.com with the purchase of USDT from the WazirX digital asset marketplace.

Commenting on the acquisition, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said:

„The acquisition of Wazirx shows our commitment and dedication to the Indian people and strengthen the blockchain ecosystem in India as well as another step forward in achieving the freedom of money.”

Zhao further added that they will be continuously working towards expanding the crypto adoption and lowering the barriers for entry in the industry. One of their main goals is to add more fiat currencies to Binance and work with local partners to add as many fiat-to-crypto pairs as possible.

Meanwhile, WazirX is also planning to hold a token sale of its native coin WRX, which is currently available to users through trade mining and signups. Shetty told The Block that WRX is a utility token and around 64,000 users currently hold the token.