Polish Crypto Exchange BitBay to Move to Malta Over Banking Blockade

  • Poland's largest cryptocurrency exchange is moving to Malta as it isn't able to open a bank account in its homeland.
  • Per BitBay, Malta was chosen for its crypto-friendly regulations.

BitBay, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in Poland, has decided to move to Malta as it isn’t able to open a bank account in its country. Per the company, Malta was chosen for its friendly take on cryptocurrencies, and a new supplier will run BitBay under its jurisdiction.

According to available data, BitBay had a $9 million trading volume in the last 24-hour period. It allows users to trade 29 cryptocurrencies against the Polish zloty, with 87 percent of said volume being on the BTC/PLN pair.

Per the exchange, the last bank willing to work with it unilaterally ended their working relationship, which forced BitBay to move. The company’s announcement reads:

“Unfortunately the last Polish bank ready to provide bank services undertook unilateral decision to finish the cooperation with BitBay with the effect at the end of May. In those circumstances the continuation of providing high quality services by BitBay exchange in Poland is no longer possible.”

BitBay

As a result, the exchange’s users will no longer be able to trade Polish zlotys after May 31, and by September 17 its trading platform won’t be operational in Poland. By then, customers will only be able to withdraw their funds from BitBay’s platform.

The exchange has already encouraged users to create an account with it when it starts operating in Malta, and clarified the company will still exist in Poland as it will “carry out other challenges than conducting cryptocurrency exchange.”

Malta is becoming a cryptocurrency haven, whose prime minister called cryptos the “inevitable future of money.” The region, which sees most cryptocurrency trading volume flow through it, was selected after careful analysis.

“BitBay has been conducting analyses for many months within the scope of the most friendly jurisdiction for cryptocurrency in the European Union. Productive discussions with the government of Republic of Malta and friendly business environment provide BitBay assurance that the choice of Maltese jurisdiction is the best solution.”

BitBay

Poland’s attitude towards cryptocurrencies has been somewhat controversial. Earlier this year, Polish news outlet money.pl discovered the country’s central bank paid a popular YouTuber to smear cryptocurrencies in a video.

Specifically, the central bank paid Marcin Dubiel $30,000 to create a video called “I LOST ALL THE MONEY?!,” in which the protagonist was embarrassed at a restaurant with his date, and lost money invested in cryptocurrencies. It was never disclosed the video was a paid promotion.

Poland’s attitude towards blockchain technology, however, seems to be different. As covered by CryptoGlobe, it became the first country to put banking records on a blockchain.

Overstock CEO Sells Shares in His Company to Invest in Blockchain Projects

Patrick Byrne, the chief executive officer of Overstock.com (OSTK), has recently lashed out at investors who questioned his sale of 900,000 of his ‘founders shares’ in the company. Justifying his move, he revealed he needed the funds to invest in blockchain projects.

According to Business Insider, Byrne recently sent a letter to shareholders after the company’s stock prices plunged over 21% this week to their lowest since 2012, after he revealed he sold 500,000 of his shares earlier this week.

On Friday, the CEO revealed he sold an additional 400,000 shares, meaning he sold over 15% of his stake in the company. Although Overstock’s shares recovered on Friday, May 17, Byrne’s letter to shareholders was notable. In it, he wrote:

I simply had to supplement my nominal salary with stock sales in order to fulfill personal commitments to invest personally in blockchain projects such as Medici Land Governance, along with a need to meet charitable pledges.

The CEO added that he doesn’t plan on giving such an explanation again, justifying that he owes shareholders “staying within the law and not making decisions based on inside information, not explanations of my life and projects outside Overstock.”

He noted that the “unanticipated stir” caused by his sale was unexpected, and added “I had no idea that shareholders would demand explanations of why and how I might want to use my cash derived from my labor and my property to pursue my ends in life.”

Byrne is notably Overstock’s largest shareholder, and noted he told investors a year ago he would be making “significant sales” to fund different projects, including those related to blockchain technologies and, presumably, cryptocurrencies.

In fact, the libertarian sold 775,000 of his shares in September of last year, before this week’s sale. The stock’s price has fallen roughly 90% from its record high in January of 2018, when Overstock was benefitting from its cryptocurrency ventures and accompanying the cryptocurrency market’s performance.

In November of last year, Byrne revealed he had plans to sell Overstock’s retail business and go “all-in” on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. The CEO’s plan would see the company focus on its fully-owned subsidiary Medici Ventures, which has been invested in blockchain-related startups, after selling its retail business.

Overstock's price performance over the last two yearsSource: Yahoo Finance

Byrne has notably been battling short sellers targeting Overstock, as the firm competes with the likes of eBay and Amazon. Financial analytics firm S3 Partners has estimated short bets against it stand at $157 million, or 50% of its float. This makes it more targeted by short sellers than 99% of companies in the U.S.

Despite the company’s performance on exchanges, Overstock has since launched its tZERO security trading platform, and was one of the first companies to pay a “portion” of its taxes using bitcoin in Ohio.