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Crypto Exchange, Houbi Plans Hong Kong Expansion

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Major crypto exchange, Houbi has shown interest to extend operations to Hong Kong as the region considers new regulations and licensing that would serve retail customers. This announcement was made by a key advisor to Huobi’s global advisory board, Justin Sun. 

According to the company, it would also open a new exchange named Houbi Hong Kong that would concentrate on institutions and high-net-worth individuals. 

Justin Sun also added that the company, Houbi Exchange may move its Asia headquarters from Singapore to Hong Kong to capitalise on the city’s attempt to establish itself as a digital asset hub. 

Investors King could recall that Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) on Monday published its proposed rules for virtual asset trading while also seeking comments from the public. 

Aside from setting up a licensing regime for crypto service providers, the regulator is also seeking views on whether to allow licensed platforms to serve retail investors and under what investor protection measures these services should be offered.

The consultation paper published on Monday sets out proposed requirements, like assessing clients’ risk profiles and setting limits to ensure their exposure is “reasonable.”

Under the proposed measures, it will be up to operators to do due diligence on tokens and monitor them. The consultation paper also proposes checks on the operator’s liquidity and whether its holdings are concentrated or controlled by a small number of individuals or entities.

The proposed measures also state that operators should not offer virtual assets which fall within the definition of “securities” if it would breach Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Ordinance while operators can only offer tokens which satisfy the SFC’s criteria for an “eligible large-cap virtual asset,” listed on two “acceptable indices.”

Meanwhile, Huobi Token (HT) is surging as the crypto exchange applies for a license to operate in Hong Kong. The token skyrocketed by more than 31% over the past 24 hours. Thereby, outperforming most of the notable coins. 

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Crypto Money Laundering Down by 29% in 2023

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According to recent findings from blockchain research firm Chainalysis, cryptocurrency money laundering activities experienced a significant downturn in 2023, dropping by 29% compared to the previous year.

In the report released on Thursday illicit funds laundered through cryptocurrency exchanges plummeted from $31.5 billion in 2022 to $22.2 billion in 2023.

Chainalysis attributed this decline to a general reduction in both legitimate and illicit crypto transaction volumes throughout the year.

The research platform highlighted that centralized exchanges remained the primary destination for funds originating from illicit sources, a trend that has persisted over the past five years.

However, there was a notable shift in the distribution of illicit funds, with an increasing proportion flowing into decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols.

The report suggested that this shift was influenced by the transparency inherent in DeFi platforms, making them less favorable for concealing the movement of funds compared to traditional exchanges.

Furthermore, Chainalysis noted changes in the methods used for laundering illicit cryptocurrency.

The report observed a significant rise in funds being channeled through cross-chain bridges from addresses associated with stolen funds.

Also, there was a notable increase in funds originating from ransomware attacks being directed towards gambling platforms and bridge protocols.

In terms of concentration, the report highlighted that 109 exchange deposit addresses received over $10 million worth of illicit cryptocurrency each, collectively receiving $3.4 billion in illicit funds in 2023.

This represents a considerable increase compared to 2022 when only 40 addresses received similar amounts.

The findings underscore evolving trends in cryptocurrency laundering and signal a growing sophistication in illicit financial activities within the digital asset space.

Regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies continue to grapple with emerging challenges posed by crypto-related crimes as the landscape evolves.

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Binance Reaffirms Commitment to Fraud-Free Trading Amid Nigeria’s Currency Concerns

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In response to growing concerns about exchange rate manipulation in Nigeria, Binance, one of the world’s leading cryptocurrency platforms, has issued a resolute statement reaffirming its commitment to maintaining a fraud-free trading environment.

The announcement comes amidst reports of heightened tensions regarding the devaluation of the Nigerian currency and suspicions of illicit activities on digital asset platforms.

Binance emphasized its dedication to providing users with a market-driven, transparent, and manipulation-free platform.

The company stressed its unwavering responsibility to safeguard users against fraudulent behavior and ensure the integrity of the trading ecosystem.

Binance asserted that any users found engaging in malicious or manipulative activities would face swift removal from the platform in line with its zero-tolerance policy for market manipulation.

The cryptocurrency exchange also highlighted its ongoing investment in enhancing processes and tools aimed at preventing fraudulent practices.

Measures include setting upper limits for advertisements, implementing rigorous ad screening procedures, and increasing deposit requirements for merchants posting ads.

As industry leaders, Binance reiterated its commitment to working closely with stakeholders to promote innovation while prioritizing user protection.

The platform assured users of its adherence to strict global security protocols across all products and services offered.

Binance’s statement underscores its proactive stance in addressing concerns related to market manipulation, emphasizing transparency, accountability, and the preservation of market integrity in Nigeria’s evolving cryptocurrency landscape.

Meanwhile, there were unconfirmed reports that the Nigerian government is considering blocking Binance and other cryptocurrency platforms amid concerns over alleged forex market manipulation and illicit financial activities.

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Nigeria Mulls Blocking Binance, Crypto Platforms Over Forex Manipulation

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Nigeria’s government is contemplating the drastic step of blocking Binance and other cryptocurrency platforms amid concerns over alleged forex market manipulation and illicit financial activities.

According to officials familiar with the matter, the move comes as the Nigerian currency experiences an unprecedented depreciation to an all-time low of N1,800 against the dollar in the parallel market.

Presidential and regulatory sources have cited reports indicating that currency speculators and money launderers are exploiting platforms like Binance to orchestrate criminal activities, which are believed to be contributing to the naira’s weakening.

Binance, a prominent digital assets platform, facilitates peer-to-peer transactions, allowing users to advertise their interest in buying or selling currencies.

Despite a warning issued by Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in September 2023, cautioning against Binance’s operations as illegal, the platform continued to operate, drawing significant patronage, especially among urban youths and suspected speculators and money launderers.

Officials have raised concerns not only about economic sabotage but also about national security implications as these platforms are reportedly used by criminal groups for activities such as ransom payments.

Law enforcement sources have described the exploitation of digital asset platforms as a sophisticated scheme against the Nigerian economy, involving the manipulation of forex values through fake deals to influence market dynamics.

A senior executive at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) emphasized the troubling trend of the naira’s depreciation, attributing it to artificial devaluation caused by speculative sites like Binance.

The potential ban on Binance and other crypto firms could follow actions taken by other countries like Malaysia, France, and Malta, which have implemented restrictions on such platforms due to similar concerns.

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