Compromised Crypto Exchange Coincheck Reopens New Account Signups & Limited Trading

  • Previously hacked exchange, Coincheck, has reopened new account signups, however, strict KYC checks are required.
  • Only bitcoin (BTC), ethereum classic (ETC), bitcoin cash (BCH), and litecoin (LTC) deposits and trading are allowed at present.

Monex Group, a Japanese brokerage firm that acquired previously hacked digital asset exchange, Coincheck, (in April) announced that the crypto trading platform has reopened new account signups.

Users will also be allowed to engage in limited trading starting from Tuesday (October 30th).

Monex Group’s announcement further noted that users may purchase and deposit a select few cryptocurrencies on Coincheck. These include bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH), ethereum classic (ETC), and litecoin (LTC).

Recovering From Damaging Hack

When Monex acquired Coincheck for $33.5 million in April, bitcoin had been the only digital currency that users were allowed to trade on the hacked platform. As covered, Coincheck accounts for most of Monex Group’s crypto-related business.

However, the operational costs associated with managing Coincheck after the acquisition have resulted in losses of about $7.5 million. According to the Monex Group, the exchange has not been profitable because of the damage caused when it was hacked in January. At present, Monex Group has 1,025 employees and around 15 percent of them are focused on the crypto segment of its business

Due to the security breach, which resulted in $534 million in NEM tokens being stolen, Monex’s management team has had to spend considerable time, money, and effort in order to improve Coincheck’s internal security infrastructure. 

This is also a requirement as Japan’s financial regulator, the Financial Service Agency (FSA), has increased its scrutiny of local digital asset exchanges due to several local exchanges being hacked.

Other Cryptocurrencies May Be Added Later

In its announcement, the Monex Group also noted that in the future, it may allow Coincheck users to trade ethereum (ETH), ripple (XRP), nem (XEM), lisk (LSK), and factom (FCT). However, the exchange will only add more coins “if the services are confirmed safe and become ready to be offered”, the notice stated.

Users currently looking to open an account on the Coincheck trading platform will have to submit identity documents in order to pass know-your-customer (KYC) checks. This is strictly enforced by Japan’s self-regulatory body, the Virtual Currency Association (JVCEA) - which was recently authorized by the FSA to create and enforce regulatory policies as they would apply to local digital asset exchanges.

Bitfinex and Tether Fraud Allegations: Analysis, Market Response, Community’s Reaction

On Thursday (April 25), New York Attorney General ("NYAG") Letitia James announced that she had obtained a court order against iFinex (the operator of crypto exchange Bitfinex) and Tether (the issuer of the stablecoin of the same name) to stop these two companies from any "further violations of New York law." This article summarizes the main highlights of the facts as presented by the NYAG, how the crypto markets have reacted, and early responses from some prominent members of the crypto community on Twitter. 

The “Facts” As Presented by Assistant Attorney General Whitehurst’s Affirmation

According to the affirmation filed (at the New York Supreme Court) on Thursday by Brian M. Whitehurst, who is an Assistant Attorney General ("AAG") in the office of NYAG James, here are the main "facts" of the case against Bitfinex and Tether, as beautifully summarized by highly-respected New York-based crypto trader/analyst Alex Krüger (@krugermacro on Twitter):

  • "Bitfinex has a $850M 'hole" since late 2018"
  • "The $850M are 'stuck' with Crypto Capital, a third party payments processor used by Bitfinex"
  • "Crypto Capital argues the $850M have been seized by govt authorities of various countries"
  • "Bitfinex mgmt believes Crypto Capital's principals may be engaged in fraud"
  • "USDT were seemingly fully backed by USD until Nov/2018"
  • "Between Nov/2018 and Mar/2019, Tether transferred $625M to Bitfinex => Tether ceased to be fully backed by USD"
  • "In Mar/2019 Bitfinex 'returned' the $625M to Bitfinex"
  • "Since Mar/2019 Bitfinex is covering the hole with a $900M line of credit from Tether"
  • "The line of credit (which pays 6.5% p.a.) is secured by iFinex shares"
  • "Bitfinex has accessed $700M from the line of credit"
  • "Per the NY AG, Bitfinex and Tether are engaged in fraud"

And here are some other interesting observations from Alex:

Bitfinex's Response 

A few hours after the NYAG's press release came out, Bitfinex issued its response in the form of an announcement posted to its website:

"Earlier today, the New York Attorney General’s office released an order it obtained – without notice or a hearing – in an attempt to compel Bitfinex and Tether to provide certain documents and seeking certain injunctive relief.

The New York Attorney General’s court filings were written in bad faith and are riddled with false assertions, including as to a purported $850 million “loss” at Crypto Capital. On the contrary, we have been informed that these Crypto Capital amounts are not lost but have been, in fact, seized and safeguarded. We are and have been actively working to exercise our rights and remedies and get those funds released. Sadly, the New York Attorney General’s office seems to be intent on undermining those efforts to the detriment of our customers.

Bitfinex and Tether have been fully cooperative with the New York Attorney General’s office, as both companies are with all regulators. The New York Attorney General’s office should focus its efforts on trying to aid and support our recovery efforts.

Both Bitfinex and Tether are financially strong – full stop. And both Bitfinex and Tether are committed to fighting this gross overreach by the New York Attorney General’s office against companies that are good corporate citizens and strong supporters of law enforcement. Bitfinex and Tether will vigorously challenge this, and any and all other actions, by the New York Attorney General’s office."

Crypto Markets' Response

Naturally, this news has hurt the price of pretty much all cryptoassets with the main exception being stablecoins that are Tether's main competition, such as USD Coin (USDC) and TrueUSD (TUSD), which have gone up between 1 and 2 percent against USD. 

BTC - 24 Hour CC Chart - 26 Apr 2019.png

ETH - 24 Hour CC Chart - 26 Apr 2019.png

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USDC - 24 Hour CC Chart - 26 Apr 2019.png

What is most interesting about the crypto markets' reaction is that Tether's price has barely been affected this time, unlike in October, when the USDT price reached a low of $0.86. The fair value of Tether is $0.75 at a minimum since Tether seems to be backed 75% by "currency and cash equivalents" and 25% by a loan collateralized by iFinex shares, which used to be worth around $10, but worth around $2 a few hours ago:

This means that the collateral of 60,000,000 iFinex shares might only be worth around $120 million at the moment, whereas the line of credit is for $900 million.

This tweet sums up nicely what one can say about Tether's current fair value:

Crypto Community's Reaction

Here are some of the more interesting early reactions from the crypto community on Twitter:

 

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pixabay.com