Mercado Bitcoin, Brazil’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, recently fired “at least” 20 employees amid restructuring efforts being made to “focus on professionalization, better governance and more agility in customer service.”
Local news outlet Portal do Bitcoin reportedly spoke to four now ex-employees that served at different hierarchical levels. One noted it “was horrible” and said that there “were people crying” over the occurrence.
The ex-employees revealed that senior executives started getting laid off earlier this week, on October 15, with other employees being fired by an executive the very next day. The company, justifying what was going on, revealed it was restructuring its marketing and human resources departments.
Those interviewed by the local news outlet claimed the affected departments were shuttered following the layoffs. One said that executives told employees that “it was a company moment, they needed to dry out their structure. In short, they went one step over what was being billed.”
The move could seemingly have been predicted as the ex-employees further claimed the working environment at Mercado Bitcoin was deteriorating. Per their words, about two months ago most of what they were doing was getting “shelved,” and their work volume kept on decreasing.
“We created processes and presentations but everything kept getting stuck. Things that we did in an hour, now started being done in two days. Some people were really idle. I had nothing to do.”
According to their accounts, Mercado Bitcoin fired employees it hired from other companies less than six months ago and, in some cases, fired people that had been working there for less than two months.
The move is notable as the cryptocurrency exchange is the largest one in Brazil. According to available data, it traded 4,150 BTC in September, and 1,965 BTC so far this month, which means it represents over 30 percent of the Brazilian market’s volume.
Crypto Exchanges Under Scrutiny
Responding to a request for comment from Portal do Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency exchange revealed it has been “promoting changes in its structure” since the beginning of this year to serve its users better. In October, its reply reads, changes were made to the marketing, HR, and administrative departments, while others were left unchanged.
The exchange operator added:
“Regarding financial and personnel data, Mercado Bitcoin does not disclose its information to the market, but clarifies that the number of people who left the company in October is significantly lower than indicated, reaching 20 people only if we include consultants and other service providers.”
The exchange’s move comes at a time in which XP Investimentos, Brazil’s biggest investment firm, is launching its XDEX cryptocurrency exchange. Huobi, the world’s second-largest exchange by trading volume, also expanded into the country earlier this year.
Notably, exchanges in Brazil have been under scrutiny, as back in August the government sent them a 14-point questionnaire to learn more about their businesses and their potential use in money laundering. Earlier this month, the country’s antitrust watchdog, CADE, sent them another questionnaire they’ll have to answer or face a fine that can reach $25,000.
Editor’s Note: Some statements in this article were translated from Portuguese.
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