American cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex has been on an expansion spree in 2019, but it’s now halting operations in 31 countries. The exchange announced that its international division would be shutting down operations in Venezuela, Egypt, Iraq, Botswana, Uganda and several other countries due to regulatory uncertainty.
In a blog post announcing the shutdown, the exchange revealed that all trading and account access for the impacted customers would be halted on October 29 at 19:00 UTC. Thus, the users must withdraw their tokens before then.
However, the users must meet the minimum withdrawal amount, with the exchange stating, “Please note if your balance is below the minimum withdrawal amount for the wallet, you will not be able to withdraw it. The minimum withdrawal for all coins must be greater than 3 times the fee. For example, your balance in BTC must be .00150001 or greater as the fee is .0005.”
Bittrex didn’t reveal if there were any specific regulatory requirements that it had an issue with, especially given that there are other crypto exchanges that still operate in some of the markets that the Seattle-based exchange exited.
Interestingly, over half of the markets that the exchange is exiting are in Africa including Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Egypt, Sudan, Guinea, Somali, Libya, Sudan, and Botswana.
The move comes just three months after the exchange cut off U.S.-based traders from trading 32 cryptos. The decision didn’t affect the top coins. Bittrex didn’t offer any reason for the decision, with many suspecting that it was due to regulatory requirements.
Bittrex has quite some experience with regulatory crackdown, having been involved in a feud with the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) earlier this year. The NYDFS denied the exchange the BitLicense to operate in the state of New York, stating that it didn’t meet certain regulatory requirements. However, Bittrex responded by accusing the regulator of having ulterior motives against the exchange.
But despite the regulatory incidences, Bittrex has been on expansion spree in 2019. In June, the exchange expanded to Liechtenstein, offering its users USD markets, with promises of Euro markets in the future. At the time, an executive at the exchange stated that the entry into the Central European country gave it a vantage point through which to conquer Europe.
In August, the exchange announced that it had partnered with a Bahraini company to launch the first fully licensed digital asset trading platform in the Middle East.
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