Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has received a formal warning from Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) for operating in the country without registering with the regulatory agency as a cryptocurrency trading platform.
In a letter dated March 23 and addressed to Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, the FSA warned the exchange operator to cease operating in Japan without a license.
The company had said it intends to seek FSA licensure, but it had already moved staff into Tokyo and had allowed Japanese residents to trade on the exchange, which currently only offers cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency trading pairs.
Nikkei had reported Thursday that the FSA would issue a formal warning to Binance, a report that Zhao lambasted as “irresponsible journalism” on Twitter.
Zhao confirmed that the exchange had received the FSA’s letter and said that its lawyers are in contact with the FSA and “will find a solution.”
Meanwhile, Binance also announced that it will open an office in the European island nation of Malta. Until now, Binance has been based in Hong Kong, another locality where it has clashed with securities regulators.
In Malta, Binance plans to open its first fiat-to-cryptocurrency trading pairs, a move that will further cement its status as one of the world’s most popular cryptocurrency exchanges. At present, Binance ranks as the largest trading platform, with a 24-hour trading volume of just under $1.6 billion, according to CoinMarketCap data.
“We are very confident we can announce a banking partnership there soon,” Zhao told Bloomberg. “Malta is very progressive when it comes to crypto and fintech.”
Zhao further told the publication that he had been invited by Malta’s government to review an upcoming bill intended to create a favorable climate for cryptocurrency companies — part of the country’s recent push to attract fintech startups.
“Welcome to #Malta @binance,” Joseph Muscat, the country’s prime minister, tweeted on Friday. “We aim to be the global trailblazers in the regulation of blockchain-based businesses.”
The pivot to Malta is the latest in a flurry of announcements for Binance, who also recently unveiled plans to build a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange (DEX) that will operate alongside its centralized order-book platform.
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