Binance receives formal warning from Japan

In a statement published by the Financial Services Agency on Friday, the agency confirmed Thursday’s news that suggested Binance was about to be warned by the financial watchdog given its lack of registration with the regulator.

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.

In early February of this year, Hong Kong regulators had posted a notice to investors on the risks of investing in cryptocurrencies, noting that they had issued letters to seven Hong Kong-based exchanges as a warning against not trading in crypto considered “securities” under local law. Bloomberg reports that Binance was one of the seven exchanges to receive the warning letter.

Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) had begun inspecting crypto exchanges in the wake of the January hack of over $500 mln NEM stored on a low security hot wallet at exchange Coincheck. The FSA has issued seven “punishment notices” to as-of-yet unregistered Japanese exchanges, as well as temporarily halting operations at two more, for a lack of “the proper and required internal control systems.”

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