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Crypto Exchanges Under Regulatory Pressure: Huobi Licensed in US, Binance Moves to Malta

As global regulatory crackdown on cryptocurrency market continues, especially from Asian countries and the United States, crypto exchanges are actively seeking win-win cooperation with pro-bitcoin governments to find their new habitat.

On March 24, HBUS, Huobi’ U.S.-based office, has registered with the US regulatory authority as a money services business (MSB). The registration of a money services business with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network under the U.S. Treasury means that HBUS could undertake crypto-to-crypto trading in most U.S. states.


The U.S. Treasury and Securities and Exchange Commission have made it clear in march that, the business of cryptocurrency exchange and its operator is money service business which shall be under the regulation of the Banking Secrecy Laws (BSA), and must go through MSB registration with the FinCEN, that is, they must operate with MSB license and comply with the regulation of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing.

Responding to the heated discussion over the company’s MSB registration, Li Lin, the chief executive and founder of Huobi Group, said,

“Though it is easy and low-cost to apply for a MSB registration, the following compliance operation and censorship would be costly, this may be the reason why many platforms choose to not conduct crypto-to-crypto trading as a MSB in U.S.”

In January, Huobi announced that Cai Kailong, former senior executive of Deutsche Bank AG, joined the company as its chief strategy officer, taking charge of the group strategy and Huobi America (HBUS). And he will be partly paid by bitcoin. According to news back then, it was reported that Cai would focus ambition on the development of the company’s American market since the second quarter of 2018. It seems HBUS is under good development ahead of the schedule with the successful MSB registration.

As an active competitor of Huobi, recently Binance also made a big move. Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange (by traded value) in the world, is moving to Malta after facing pressure from Asian authorities in China, Japan and Hong Kong. Earlier Japan’s top financial regulator issued a warning to Binance about offering services to Japanese citizens as an overseas platform. While the prime minister of Malta publicly welcomed Binance, and Malta seems to be an excellent place for crypto-business.

Its government “aims to be the global trailblazers in the regulation of blockchain-based businesses and the jurisdiction of quality and choice for world class fintech companies”, stated in a twitter  on March 23 by Joseph Muscat, the country’s prime minister.


Zhao Changpeng, CEO of Binance, soon forwarded the twitter and disclosed in an interview that Binance has accepted the invitation of Malta, saying it will set up office in the country and fasten cooperation with local banks.

The exchange’s move to Malta has been praised as positive in the crypto community. Coming on the heels of recent G20’s outcome on cryptos, it is also considered another sign of progress with governments’ acceptance.

As the big three China-based crypto exchanges, Huobi and Binance have found their new habitats under regulatory pressure, where will OKCoin go?


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