Hong Kong-based BitMEX is closing trading accounts of clients in the United States and the Canadian province of Quebec amid a global regulatory crackdown on unlicensed crypto exchanges, according to a South China Morning Post (SCMP) report.
SCMP noted that this development came after BitMEX’s notice to users in North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Sudan, and Sevastopol in the Crimea since the fourth quarter of 2018 against holding positions or trading, as these are restricted jurisdictions.
This might be a massive blow to the cryptocurrency market as the Bitcoin futures exchange handles $928 billion worth of crypto trades.
According to SCMP, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), Quebec’s financial watchdog, issued a notice to the exchange in early 2018 ordering it to close all accounts linked to Quebecois as it was not operating legally in the jurisdiction.
“BitMEX is not registered with the AMF and is therefore not authorized to have activities in the province of Quebec…We informed this company that its activities were illegal,” AMF’s director of media relations told SCMP.
The report also said that the trading platform is not accessible within the United States and the traders of that country are using virtual private networks to access their accounts.
BitMEX, however, has denied all allegations against it saying that there are major inaccuracies in SCMP’s report, according to Cointelegraph.
“BitMEX has banned all US traders since 2015, and has been proactively closing accounts since the guidance was obtained by US regulators, in particular, the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC),” said Joe Coufal, a representative from Wachsman, the PR firm representing BitMEX.
The exchange also said that in late 2018, it had added warning banners and popups on its website to inform traders about its protocols.
“BitMEX has always retained the right to close any accounts and to liquidate any open positions were trading participants have given false representations as to their location or place of residence,” Coufal added.
The exchange, in its response, however, did not clarify anything about AMF’s notice.
Last year, BitMEX became the market leader of Bitcoin contracts by handling $1 million worth of single day trades. However, in the annual tally, BitMEX lost significant market share as the Korean exchange Bithumb took over, as reported by FortuneZ earlier.