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Bitfinex Weighs Move To Switzerland



De Silva

Bitfinex is reportedly considering a pivot to Switzerland.

One of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Bitfinex, hopes to relocate to Switzerland, according to a Wednesday report by Handelszeitung (German).

The Swiss-German weekly newspaper cited CEO Jean-Louis van der Velde, who said, "We are looking for a new domicile for Bitfinex and the parent company iFinex, where we want to merge the operations previously spread over several locations."

Bitfinex has apparently met for discussions with Switzerland's State Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF) and has been in contact with the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, Federal Councilor Johann Schneider-Ammann.

Earlier this year, ETHNews reported that Schneider-Ammann called for Switzerland to become the "crypto-nation."

If Bitfinex relocates its operations to Switzerland, it would likely form a new AG, which would replace iFinex Inc, its British Virgin Islands (BVI) parent company. The exchange is also considering London as an option.

Note: AG stands for "Aktiengesellschaft," which is a German term for a public limited company (PLC).

Bitfinex has come under fire for its relationship with Tether (a company, partially owned by van der Velde through Tether Holdings Limited, which purports to offer a blockchain-based equivalent to the US dollar and has been subpoenaed by the CFTC), but that hasn't stopped its executives from trying to turn over a new leaf.

Van der Velde said, "We want to be the most transparent of all exchanges and meet the requirements of the Swiss regulator."

However, given the exchange's lack of transparency, a catastrophic hack in 2016 (which resulted in the loss of 120,000 BTC, then valued at approximately $70 million), and Tether's break from its auditor Friedman LLP, it might be a little difficult to accept Bitfinex's statements at face value. It's also worth noting that the exchange shut down its US operations late last year.

For now, Bitfinex and Tether are banking with ING Group in Holland, van der Velde's birthplace. It's unclear whether these banking relationships would change if the Swiss move goes through.

The exchange still needs approval from the Swiss Financial Market Authority (FINMA). In October 2017, FINMA granted its first license to a cryptocurrency exchange called Payment21.

On a related note, last month, ETHNews reported that FINMA said anti-money laundering regulation and securities laws apply to some initial coin offerings (ICOs). Yesterday, FINMA CEO Mark Branson said that the regulator would examine past ICOs conducted in Switzerland based on its February guidelines.

Matthew De Silva

Matthew has a passion for law and technology. He graduated from Georgetown University, where he studied international economics and music. Matthew enjoys biking and listening to tech podcasts. He lives in Los Angeles.

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