Cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex will close its U.S. platform on April 30, according to an announcement from the company on Friday. After nine years of operation, Bittrex co-founder and CEO Ritchie Lai stated that the current U.S. regulatory and economic environment made it “economically unviable” for the exchange to continue operating in the country.
Lai cited unclear regulatory requirements that are enforced without appropriate discussion or input, resulting in an uneven competitive landscape as the reasons behind the closure. He added that operating in the U.S. was no longer feasible for Bittrex.
Despite the shutdown of its U.S. platform, Lai assured customers that all their funds are safe and available for withdrawal. The closure will not affect Bittrex Global, which operates in Europe, Canada, and South America, among other locales, and will remain open for trading.
Bittrex’s decision to shut down its U.S. platform is not the first time a crypto exchange has faced regulatory hurdles. In recent weeks and months, U.S. regulators have increased their oversight of crypto-related companies. Coinbase recently disclosed receiving a Wells Notice from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), while Kraken paid a $30 million fine in a settlement with the same agency after shuttering its crypto staking service.
Binance and its CEO and founder Changpeng Zhao were also recently named in a complaint filed by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The complaint alleges the offering of unregistered crypto derivatives products in the U.S.
The crypto industry has been grappling with regulatory challenges in the U.S., with some companies choosing to exit the market altogether. However, other companies, like Bittrex Global, continue to operate and expand their reach in other parts of the world.
Bittrex Global operates in over 100 countries and recently launched a new platform for institutional investors. The exchange’s closure of its U.S. platform may be a strategic decision to focus on expanding its operations elsewhere.
The crypto industry is still in its early stages, and regulatory challenges are expected to persist. The industry’s stakeholders will need to work with regulators to find a balance between innovation and compliance to ensure the healthy growth of the industry.