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Major Cryptocurrency Exchange Bitfinex Weighs Move to Switzerland

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM

Bitfinex, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, is reportedly planning to move out of its current base in Hong Kong over to Switzerland.

German-language Swiss newsweekly Handelszeitung  is reporting that Hong Kong-based Bitfinex is already in talks with Swiss authorities over a move to Europe. Switzerland is at the top of the list of potential destinations while London is also being considered as an alternative, the report added.

The publication directly cites Bitfinex CEO Jean-Louis van der Velde in revealing the potential move, with ‘several meetings’ between Bitfinex officials and Switzerland’s State Secretariat for International Financial Affairs (SIF) already having taken place. Bitinfex has also been in contact with Johann Schneider-Ammann, head of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research. Speaking at a conference earlier this year, Schneider-Ammann has previously called on Switzerland to further its industry-friendly regulatory climate to become the world’s ‘crypto nation’.

The Bitfinex chief pointed to “very constructive talks” with Swiss authorities, adding:

We are looking for a new permanent home for Bitfinex and the parent company iFinex, where we want to merge the operations previously spread over several locations.

The world’s fifth largest crypto exchange with nearly half a billion in trading over the past day, a successful move by Bitfinex could establish its parent company iFinex Switzerland as a new AG (Aktiengesellschaft ), or German for a public limited company that sees its shares traded on a public stock exchange. iFinex is currently located in the British Virgin Islands.

Further, the substantial move from Asia to Europe would also reportedly see iFinex’s legal and finance departments operate from Switzerland, alongside Bitfinex’s development and customer service bases that would also shift to Switzerland.

Bitfinex has seen plenty of criticism for its connection to Tether, an iFinex subsidiary that issues tether (USDT), a dollar-pegged token that frequently trades on a number of global exchanges including Bitfinex. Tether’s relation with an auditor – tasked to audit the company’s balance sheets and nearly 2.3 billion USDT tokens in circulation – broke down in January this year, raising the crucial question of whether the token is backed by actual fiat US dollars.

Both Bitfinex and Tether have also received subpoenas from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), scrutiny which now sees Bitfinex looking to comply with all regulatory requirements in Switzerland.

Bitfinex CEO van der Velde added:

We want to be the most transparent of all exchanges and meet the requirements of the Swiss regulator.

Bitfinex is now the second major Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange known to be looking to exit the jurisdiction in the space of week. As reported previously, Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, announced its foray into establishing a base in the European nation of Malta which is undergoing its own endeavor to become the world’s ‘blockchain island’.

Featured image from Shutterstock.