Anytime news comes out about certain cryptocurrency exchanges freezing assets or halting withdrawals, the crypto market gets super spooked. It happened last week with Coincheck, the Japanese exchange that suffered a $530M cryptocurrency heist. Now the investors are on pins and needles again after the European crypto exchange Bitgrail suspended all withdrawals of assets except for Bitcoin.
BitGrail is by far the largest exchange for RaiBlocks (XRB) trading by daily volume. Halting withdrawals for XRP investors is obviously worrisome. According to the BigGrail founder, Francesco Firano, the exchange is enforcing a mandatory KYC verification for all accounts effective immediately. All accounts that is not in compliance will have their XRP position liquidated into Bitcoins (BTC) and send back to their original depositing Bitcoin wallet. To be clear, BitGrail is still allowing withdrawals of BTC coins and open for XRP/BTC trading. So account holders that do not wish to comply with the KYC verification demand can still exchange their XRP for BTC and move the coins to their preferred wallet.
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Here is the official statement from Bitgrail’s founder, Francesco Firano, on a Reddit post:
Dear users, this is going to be a new update about what’s going on, since seems that for someone a statement every half an hour is more important than the possibility to focus on work. Despite possible offenses, criticism, threats, I’m gonna proceed. Even if these are some of the things that can make updates annoying to do.
I’ll begin repeating once again this concept: BitGrail cannot work without mandatory KYC anymore. Looks like exchanges in general can’t do it, even if some may ignore it. But BitGrail can’t. It is in a country where you can’t ignore the law and even if there would be the opportunity, we wouldn’t do it. BitGrail want to operate in cryptocurrency market in the more transparent way possible, talking about laws.
I won’t go into details, but here’s something about KYC:
In particular, read point 2: “Foreign-located MSBs are subject to the same civil and criminal penalties for violations of the BSA and its implementing regulations as MSBs with a physical presence in the United States.”
So, even if BitGrail is an European exchange, there is the necessity to comply with laws from all around the world, americans too (KYC included). This means verifying users and their origins, in order to check if they could use BitGrail or not.
You could find some workaround, but BitGrail want to operate according to law. Then KYC is fundamental (although fan of privacy). It’s not possible to give an ETA about each single verification, there are a lot of them, and time is needed. Accounts with large amounts may require different time and different document requeste, leading to slower verifications.
Many complained of the sudden changes of ToS without prior notification. Keep in mind that nothing has changed if not the amounts that for BitGrail can be wihdrawn without leading to problems about AML.
Specifically, who carefully read, noticed:”Maintaining your Account: our rules” “…If there is suspicious activity related to your Account, we may, but are not obligated, to request additional information from you, including authenticating documents, and to freeze any transactions pending our review…” All transactions made by EXTRA-EU could be, currently, potentially suspect according to what has been cited above.
Another important point, please remember that whenever you want you are free to close your account: “Termination and escrow of unverified accounts” “…You may terminate this agreement with BitGrail, and close your Account at any time…” “…The suspension of an Account shall not affect the payment of the commissions due for past Transactions. Upon termination, Members shall communicate a valid Bitcoin Address to allow for the transfer of any currencies credited to their account. BitGrail will convert all the Cryptocurrencies in Bitcoin and shall transfer this amount as soon as possible following the Member’s request in the time frames specified by BitGrail. Upon Account closing, any amount less than 0.005 Bitcoin in value will not be returned…” A new page that should let users close their accounts without using tickets is under development.
Not verified and EXTRA-EU users will have to close their accounts on BitGrail. Do not worry, in case they will receive notice, this is just an anticipation. From the moment that the official statement will be visible on the site, these users will have two (2) weeks for accepting new (upcoming) TOS where will be clearly wrote that EXTRA-EU users won’t be able to use BitGrail accounts anymore. As said already, this is an European company, which can guarantee to operate according to European laws only in European countries.
Personally, furthermore, I would avoid risking legal troubles for who insults and threatens me.
Being the CEO of BitGrail, whatever “hits” the site, “hits” me. This is stressful and annoying. You can certainly understand it, partially at least.
This is a platformwhich started working an possible interesting coin on May 2017, with transparency in mind. I worked on XRB and created an exchange where users have traded it for months.
Then, something happened. The faucet has been closed and the roadmap of that project changed, reducing the total supply, maybe in favor of “early adopters” and big holders, who until that moment were not so much. I don’t know if it caused or not a voluntary manipulation, also exploiting the fact that the coin was mainly only on two exchanges during 2017. Why am I talking about that? Because some accused me of manipulating the market (now and in the past). Please everybody remember that I’m not and I’ve never been part of the RaiBlocks team. I’m just one of the first who developed for this coin, when it was totally unknown.
However, the consequence on BitGrail has been important: huge daily volumes, suddenly. Incredible number of connections, users. All without being ready, with risks for legal of technical problems (reason of servers updates and other things), with me being the target.
Rolled up sleeves, working night and day, no Christmas or New Year Eve, in order to optimize the platform while the system was under stress, due to requests 20 times higher than some previous days.
Many things have been done and many others are under development right now.
Between the important things to take care, there is also the aspect of the law -> KYC and new upcoming TOS.
Now, XRB deposits and withdrawals are not availalbe at the moment (same for LSK and CFT; LTC tickets should be fixed asap). But there is the possiblity to use BTC if someone just want to withdraw. That’s because BTC is aimed to stay fully functional (maybe with rare and/or unpredictable exceptions). This is the reason why, like written in the TOS, in case of closing an account, the balance will be sent to the user as BTC.
In conclusion, I would like to say again that, if someone consider himself better in the management of the situation, he can make an offer to take over BitGrail, instead of insulting and criticizing with anonymous accounts.
Thanks for your attention. Francesco
And here’s an updated statement from Francesco:
Hello everybody, It’s time for a new update, to let you know that we feel you. (despite harassments, threats from many users)
First news, XRB deposits and withdrawals will be enabled again soon. And there will be the possibility for non european users (extra-eu) to withdraw, in some conditions, using not only BTC.
And now time for more clarity.
As written, there is the necessity to continue with compliance; this requires to close EXTRA-EU accounts, until new updates. Some countries like USA are at high level of priority in BitGrail roadmap, but at the moment is not possible to let those users trade on BitGrail.
The previous statement about extra-eu users was an anticipation to a next notice, it is not happening right now, immediately. So the rush and the fud seem to be not really necessary, if not for damaging the community, despite some are saying that BitGrail itself would be doing it.
The possibility to deposit and withdraw will be available very soon for verified users. Moreover, will be given the opportunity to withdraw their funds without converting them to BTC, both for EU and EXTRA-EU users. In this case they should be verified (or verify), withdraw and if needed close accounts. For the others, with the intention to withdraw without being verified, as written in the ToS, they will have to close their accounts and receive the equivalent of funds in their accounts in BTC.
In the latest 24 hours, some hundreds of request for closing accounts and thousands of submissions for verify have been submitted. There is a queue but we’re working on it, in order to meet users requests as quickly as possible.