Former Bitmain Employees to Launch Cryptocurrency Trading, Lending Startup

Francisco Memoria

Former employees of cryptocurrency mining hardware manufacturing giant Bitmain are reportedly looking to launch a startup that’s set to offer users over-the-counter (OTC) trading, as well as cryptocurrency lending services.

According to CoinDesk, who cites two sources familiar with the matter, the former employees include some from Bitmain’s Copernicus project, which was launched in 2018 to help develop bitcoin cash (BCH) and the wormhole protocol. It hasn’t had updates on GitHub since December, as it was affected by layoffs last year.

The news outlet’s sources reportedly claimed former Bitmain team members were looking to launch the startup to provide services that would include over-the-counter (OTC) trading, crypto lending, and custody.

They further claimed that within the industry it’s known there are two camps inside Bitmain, one aligned with co-founder Jihan Wu focusing on blockchain and BCH development, and another aligned with co-founder Micree Zhan, focusing on crypto mining chips.

The team forming the new startup is reportedly from Wu’s side, although it’s unclear how many former Bitmain employees are joining the organization. A source reportedly told CoinDesk Yuesheng Ge, a major Bitmain shareholder, is on its incorporation paper.

A spokesperson for the cryptocurrency mining giant contacted by the news outlet said it had “no comment” on the subject, although he or she noted Wu won’t be leaving the company.

Bitmain’s IPO

As CryptoGlobe covered, Bitmain has been eyeing an initial public offering (IPO) with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX). Files from the IPO prospectus show Ge owns roughly 4% of the firm, and was an executive director of its board.

Another source reportedly told the news outlet that when Bitmain updated its financial situation with the HKEX, it included Ge. This, although documents from November suggest Ge and Wu both left Beijing Bitmain Technology, the subsidiary that’s applying to go public.

That same source added that if Bitmain’s management had changed the IPO could fall, as HKEX has a “clear requirement for a listing applicant to maintain management continuity during its track record.”

For the IPO to go forward, Bitmain has to graduate to a listing hearing later this month. Its competitors, Canaan and Ebang, have seen their IPOs fall, although the latter filed a new application.