Crypto exchange Bittrex shutters U.S. operations, blames regulatory environment – GeekWire

Bittrex launched in 2014 and “the crypto ecosystem is very different” today, CEO Richie Lai wrote Friday. (BigStock Photo)

Bellevue, Wash.-based crypto exchange Bittrex announced Friday it was “winding down” its U.S. operations.

A post from Bittrex co-founder and CEO Richie Lai assured customers that their money was safe.

“Don’t worry — all customer funds are safe and available to withdraw; however, it’s just not economically viable for us to continue to operate in the current U.S. regulatory and economic environment,” Lai said.   

Bittrex will continue working on crypto outside of the U.S. through Bittrex Global.

Lai and his co-founders, Bill Shihara and Rami Kawach, were all former security leaders at Amazon. They launched the company in 2014.

“We built technology that was ahead of everyone at the time. Full-service API. Near instant atomic transactions. Wallet infrastructure, handling more wallets than anyone. Offline cold wallet solutions. We’ve never lost funds or been hacked. It was technology, simple and elegant,” Lai wrote in Friday’s post.

Users of the exchange will be able to continue trading until April 14 and all funds should be withdrawn by the last day of April, Lai advised.

Nine years since launching, “the crypto ecosystem is very different,” Lai wrote. “Regulatory requirements are often unclear and enforced without appropriate discussion or input, resulting in an uneven competitive landscape.”

The crypto sector was rocked last year by the swift collapse of digital-asset exchange FTX. The prices of Bitcoin, Ethereum and other coins fell steeply in aftermath of FTX’s shutdown.

Bittrex, which launched in 2014, cut 83 jobs last month. Before February’s layoffs, the company had nearly 300 employees, according to LinkedIn.

Bittrex was hit with about $29 million in fines by the U.S. Treasury Department in October. It allegedly allowed people from sanctioned jurisdictions to use its platform and did not meet anti-money laundering requirements.

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