The WhiteBIT Exchange Turns Five: Here’s How It Stayed in the Crypto Game

The WhiteBIT Exchange Turns Five: Here’s How It Stayed in the Crypto Game

WhiteBIT has entered an exclusive circle of crypto firms upon reaching its five-year milestone. On the eve of its anniversary, it’s well worth turning our attention to this crypto exchange and looking back on the things that helped build its legacy.

How WhiteBIT became one of the noteworthy crypto exchanges

WhiteBIT’s emergence as a noteworthy force as a cryptocurrency exchange can be traced back to a series of choices that propelled it to the vanguard of the market. WhiteBIT was founded in Ukraine in 2018 and quickly grew to amass a substantial user base. This now exceeds 4 million individuals, making it a significant player in the European market.

WhiteBIT’s exchange encompasses over 270 digital assets across 350 trading pairs. Its suite of services includes margin trading and futures, giving it a wider scope than traditional crypto exchanges and helping it land alongside the industry’s biggest players.

What further set WhiteBIT apart were the strategic alliances it cultivated, notably its endorsement as the official crypto exchange of FC Barcelona, a globally renowned football club. Also complementing its diverse asset selection was the inclusion of 10 fiat currencies for funding user accounts, among them major denominations such as USD, EUR, and GBP, ensuring widespread accessibility for a global audience.

Furthermore, the introduction of its proprietary WhiteBIT Token (WBT) and the innovative WhiteBIT Earn program showcased the platform’s commitment to user-centric innovation, providing a spectrum of benefits and earning opportunities for its users.

The landscape of crypto is a dynamic one. The robust regulatory framework and the high-performance trading infrastructure have helped its rise in the industry during the five years that it has been active.

WhiteBIT’s Five-Year Anniversary

WhiteBIT turns five years old. For all the reasons listed above, this is a big deal. The Baltic Exchange has been a symbol of consistency in an often uncertain crypto space and an advocate for cutting-edge innovation.

With Bitcoin and most other major cryptocurrencies seemingly turning a corner in recent weeks, and with hopes that crypto can enter into a bright new future, it will be companies up to companies like WhiteBIT to offer solutions to both regular and experienced consumers.

SBF Could Face a 115-Year Jail Sentence if Extradited to the US

SBF Could Face a 115-Year Jail Sentence if Extradited to the US

Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) could be extradited to the US for a court trial. He might get up to 115 years in jail. 

Who is Sam Bankman-Fried?

Sam Bankman-Fried is the former CEO and founder of Alameda Research, a quantitative trading firm that is active in the cryptocurrency markets. He is also the former chief executive of FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange, and derivatives trading platform. Bankman-Fried is known for his contributions to the development of the cryptocurrency industry and for his philanthropic efforts through the Bankman-Fried Foundation, which focuses on supporting research and development in science and technology.

And more recently, Sam became even more famous when FTX declared bankruptcy in Nov 2022. 

FTX’s collapse roiled crypto markets and revealed many accounting scandals within the company. FTX was once one of the most prominent and respected players in this space. The exchange had no accounting department and mixed customer funds with Alameda Research. It also reportedly spent $100 million on luxury vacation homes for its employees.

Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested in The Bahamas

After filing for bankruptcy in November 2022, Sam ran to the Bahamas, hoping to find a way and bring the price of the FTT token (the native token of FTX exchange) back up and give investors their money back. But things haven’t worked up quite that way.

After U.S. prosecutors brought criminal charges, Sam Bankman-Fried was taken into custody in the Bahamas.

The Bahamas government released the following statement:

“S.B.F.’s arrest followed receipt of formal notification from the United States that it has filed criminal charges against S.B.F. and is likely to request his extradition.” 

This arrest was the latest dramatic development in one of the most shocking corporate falls from grace in recent history. On Dec 6, Mr. Bankman Fried was to testify before Congress about the collapse of FTX. This was the largest firm in the emerging crypto sector, and it was virtually destroyed in only a few days in Nov 2022 when its accounts were missing $8 billion.

Prosecutors from the Southern District of New York confirmed that Mr. Bankman Fried was charged and stated that an indictment would not be filed on Dec 13. Separately, the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) stated in a statement that they had authorized charges “relating to Mr. Bankman Fried’s violation of our securities laws.”

Some unverified sources say that Mr. Bankman-Fried was charged with wire fraud, wire conspiracy, securities fraud conspiracy, money laundering, and securities fraud conspiracy.

Mr. Bankman Fried, who was the only one charged in the indictment, was taken into custody. According to a statement by the Bahamian police, he was taken into custody at his apartment in Albany resort in the Bahamas shortly after 6 pm. It was unclear when Mr. Bankman Fried might be transferred to the United States. The Bahamas has an extradition agreement with the United States. However, it can take several weeks and sometimes even longer if there is a criminal defendant who contests it.

According to someone familiar with the matter, Mr. Bankman Fried cooperated during his arrest. 

SBF’s reply to the arrest

Sam Bankman-Fried is reportedly reconsidering his decision to appeal extradition. According to Reuters, he will appear in court in the Bahamas on December 19 to seek a reversal of that decision.

On Dec 13, SBF was denied bail, and the reason was “risk of flight.”

Sam’s lawyer declared that his client is suffering from insomnia and depression, and a second bail application was reportedly filed at the Bahamas Supreme Court on Dec 15.

Bankman-Fried could be sentenced to 115 years imprisonment if he is convicted. However, it could take years before the court reaches a final verdict in this case. 

SBF has hired Mark Cohen as his defense lawyer. Cohen is the co-founder of Cohen & Gresser, and was a member of the defense team for Ghislaine Maxwell in her high-profile case involving child trafficking.

Bankman-Fried is currently being held at Fox Hill Prison. This is the only prison in The Bahamas. A U.S. State Department report from 2021 stated that Fox Hill conditions were “harsh,” overcrowded, and had poor nutrition. Correctional officers were accused of physically abusing detainees.

Caroline Ellison, the former CEO of Alameda Research (a sister company to FTX), has also created a defense team. In an ongoing federal investigation, Ellison will be represented by Stephanie Avakian (a former top crypto regulator at the United States SEC). Avakian is currently the chair of WilmerHale’s Securities and Financial Services department. She expanded the oversight of cryptocurrency at the Enforcement Division in her role at SEC.

New Crypto Legislations in Hong Kong for Crypto Exchanges

New Crypto Legislations in Hong Kong for Crypto Exchanges

In Hong Kong, virtual asset service providers will have a new licensing system, which will require them to adhere to strict anti-money laundering (AML) guidelines.

Hong Kong’s legislative body has approved a new amendment to the anti-money laundering and terrorist financing system. The legislation now includes virtual asset service providers.

On June 1, 2023, this new legislation will go into effect, and it will establish a licensing system for virtual asset service providers. Crypto exchange service providers will be subject to the same legislation that currently applies to traditional financial institutions.

Virtual exchanges that want to open a Hong Kong business must follow strict AML(Anti-Money Laundering) guidelines and comply with investor protection laws before being granted a license to operate. Hong Kong, unlike other regulators around the globe, has used the FTX crash to reduce regulatory risks associated with centralized exchanges.

Regulators around the globe have been criticized for failing to protect retail investors after the FTX crypto exchange collapse. A growing demand has emerged to bring crypto exchanges under the law and to require strict AML and investor protection.

Hong Kong Monetary Authority to impose regulations

Hong Kong has actively worked toward the establishment of a well-thought regulatory framework for its nascent cryptocurrency market. The Hong Kong government published a policy in October entitled “Policy Declaration on the Development of Virtual Assets.” It included a regulatory framework as well as risk-based regulatory guidance. To evaluate and improve the technology underlying virtual assets, the government suggested several pilot projects.

Investors may also benefit from some protection regulations. This nation has become the leader in the urgent issue of investor protection because of the recent legislation amendment.

At a recent conference, Eddie Yue, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, suggested that there might soon be investor protection regulations in the country. 

Banks are discussing the future of FinTech

Central bank governors from all over the world have attended a conference in Thailand to discuss the role and future of central banks in the face of evolving financial technology. The conference was hosted by both the Bank of Thailand and the Bank for International Settlements.

Panel discussion on digitalized monetary systems featured Eddie Yue (chief executive of Hong Kong Monetary Authority), Changyong Rhee (governor of the Bank of Korea), Adrian Orr (governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand), Cecilia Skingsley (Bank for International Settlements) discussing the rise of digital assets, central banks digital currencies, and the potential risks associated with this new technology.

The chief of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority discussed the benefits and innovations of blockchain technology, as well as its potential impact on central banks. Yue stated that stablecoins and CBDCs would offer more efficient and economical ways to transact in the long term. He noted, however, that any new technology comes with certain risks. These risks could be operational.

Yue pointed out that blockchain is decentralized by its very nature. It is, therefore, much more difficult to mitigate on-chain risk. Regulators should therefore focus on activities off-chain. He explained:

“We can start with regulating off-chain activities like regulating virtual asset exchanges. Hong Kong will soon introduce not just AML (anti-money laundering) aspect but also investor protection.”

This was before the Hong Kong government issued the regulations for crypto exchanges, which align with the international consensus on regulating stablecoins.

Changyong Rhee (the Bank of Korea governor) was less optimistic about blockchain technology’s future, particularly in the monetary sector, in light of recent crypto contagions. He stated that he wasn’t sure if “we are actually seeing the benefits of this technological advancement recently.”

“I was more positive before, but after seeing the Luna, Terra, and now the FTX issues. I don’t know [if] we will see the real benefit of this new technology, at least for monetary policy,” said Rhee.

Proof of Reserves (PoR) To Avoid Future CEXs From Liquidation

Proof of Reserves (PoR) To Avoid Future CEXs From Liquidation

Binance and other big centralized exchanges plan to use the Proof of Reserves as an auditing technique to reassure their customers of the safety of their funds.

As trust in its accounting of billions in assets disappeared, crypto exchange FTX went bankrupt at the beginning of November 2022.

Some critics have slammed the existence of centralized exchanges, such as FTX. Its CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, posted many messages on Twitter trying to convince his customers that he had made a terrible but honest mistake that he would try to repair. However, CEX customers are now all wondering just how safe their assets are on any of these exchanges. And the truth is that without total transparency from the exchanges, the FTX collapse could happen again at any given time.  

The controversy has brought back the debate about a possible solution. It is called proof of reserves, or PoR. This method shows, without any doubt or ambiguity, how many tokens are on each exchange that uses the technique. Proof of reserves, if in place at FTX, could have, in theory, stopped customers’ money from being moved to places it shouldn’t. In this case, the assets wouldn’t have moved to Bankman-Fried trading firm Alameda Research.

Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world by volume, has shared its wallet accounts and said it would conduct a proof of reserves snapshot within the next few weeks. Other CEXs that made similar statements include, KuCoin, Poloniex, Bitget, Huobi, OKX, Deribit and Bybit

What is proof of reserves?

Proof of reserves is an audit technique that confirms assets in custody. It is used by stablecoin issuers Paxos to show they have enough assets backing their tokens. Exchanges like BitMEX use the technique to prove that customer deposits correspond with assets in custody.

Sergey Nazarov, the co-founder of Chainlinks Labs, stated that the use of this auditing solution could have made it possible to avoid all of this: “It would have been quite a solvable problem if there had been more transparency in the balance sheet.” Chainlink offers the proof of reserves (PoR) auditing mechanism as a product. Their PoR solution already powers multiple stablecoins and gold coins. 

How does proof of reserves work?

An entity can prove its assets reserves in a variety of ways. These include traditional third-party audits that are performed by companies such as Armanino, to Merkle tree proofs (cryptographic verification using data structures called Merkle branches).

There are also methods that blockchain analytics companies employ. Chainlink is an example of a company that separates proof-of-reserve implementation into two categories: on-chain and off-chain.

An off-chain alternative is a third-party provider, such as Chainlink, that receives API access (application programming interface) from an exchange. This allows the auditor or custodian to verify the exchange’s holdings.

Proof of Reserves (Por) To Avoid Future CEXs From Liquidation

Off-chain proof of reserves (Chainlink)

On-chain routing is a proof of-reserves smart contract on one network (usually Ethereum). It receives data feeds from Chainlink’s Oracle network (on a block-by-block basis) about a provider’s on-chain wallet balances in another network (e.g., Bitcoin). This empowers users and allows them to check whether the company or the exchange actually has the assets they claim to have.

Proof of Reserves (Por) To Avoid Future CEXs From Liquidation

On-chain proof of reserves (Chainlink)

Should proof of reserves be used?

Investment brokers that offer services to retail customers are already producing regular reports to show the client’s assets and liabilities. But this is done because of the harsher regulations that are already in place for them. For the most part, cryptocurrency exchanges remain unregulated financial services, and customers have nobody to lean on when it comes to a lack of liquidity or bankruptcy. 

A first step may be self-regulating services that may regain the trust of customers. Authorities might also be willing to adapt their regulations to the crypto industry when existing exchanges collaborate. 

Over the last few years, many exchanges have collapsed, causing crypto investors to lose a lot of money. While many never got their funds back, this also caused existing services to practice much better security and transparency.  

New EU Rules for Crypto Exchanges and Russian Users

New EU Rules for Crypto Exchanges and Russian Users

Many popular crypto exchanges have stopped operating in Russia. However, some platforms continue to serve the region.

Nine months after the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, sanctions against Russia have grown at an aggressive rate. The European Union legislators announced that they would ban all cross-border crypto payments between Russia’s citizens and Russia.

The EU has initiated a ban on all “crypto asset wallets and accounts” in response to Russia’s continued annexes of Ukrainian land, its repeated mobilization of troops in the country, and threats of nuclear escalation.

In previous sanctions, cryptocurrency payments between Russian and EU wallets were limited to 10,000 euros. This new ban will deprive Russia of its military power and limit its industrial components.

Crypto exchanges apply bans on Russian crypto users

A number of popular cryptocurrency exchanges in the region, including LocalBitcoins and, sent emails to customers advising them to withdraw funds immediately to avoid being unable to use their services.

It’s worth noting that in September 2022, LocalBitcoins was responsible for 8% of Russia’s crypto trade volume. This makes them the largest client base on the exchange. Additionally, Russian users were responsible for facilitating 20% of all BTC trading volumes before the ban.

Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, is working to implement the new restrictions. A representative of the firm said that the changes could take time and would not be live until a set date. 

Bitfinex, an exchange that had opposed the increasing sanctions being imposed against Russian citizens, has recently changed its mind, saying that it may need to modify its policies if directed by the regulatory authorities.

Another ban faced by Russian citizens comes from Dapper Labs, who banned them from accessing the popular blockchain earlier this month. Users from this side of the globe will not be able to access the popular NFT marketplace, along with several other crypto products.

Read more: Best NFTs to invest in

The ban’s impact

It’s no surprise to anyone that most Russians can’t rely on their bank accounts anymore, and crypto provides a safe haven to guard their savings or receive money from abroad. The hard fact is that digital assets can be used to help citizens in war zones. And it’s the same with Ukraine, which has received billions in crypto donations. 

This last ban will cause pain to some Russian financial institutions and retail outlets. The fact that BTC saw a sharp increase in price during the conflict is something that the EU is much aware of. The European Authorities noticed this loophole in their strategy of suffocating Russia, and it’s also trying to sanction this.

However, these sanctions will be enforced through the EU’s Financial Action Task Force, and they can potentially redefine the region’s crypto landscape in the near future.

What happens to Ruble pairs that are held by these exchanges

The regulators have been strict with exchanges that allow blacklisted citizens to trade on their platforms in the past. This leads to the question: What will large volumes of Rubles trading pairs do when dealing with these assets? 

Nobody gave any indication of what exchanges should do, and they will be prudent this time. Now, the exchanges have no choice but to make major losses on their balances. The ban will put decentralized finance (DeFi) back in the spotlight because it provides a censorship-resistant and easily accessible infrastructure to people living in geopolitical turmoil. However, we’re already seeing censorship on the new PoS Ethereum blockchain.

It is unclear if exchanges will have to return funds to Russian users or block access to their accounts. This is something that each exchange will have to resolve on its own. 

Despite the ban, many exchanges are still functional

Binance is considering restricting its services to Russian users. However, Binance is operating as usual. The United States-based exchange Kraken, which is based in the United States, has not placed any restrictions on Russian customers, and there are no indications as to whether it will voluntarily comply with EU requirements.

Antigua and Barbuda’s FTX is another popular exchange that has not been subject to any kind of ban. Garantex, a popular Russian cryptocurrency platform, has not been banned. It still offers traders in the region a variety of advanced services like futures and derivatives.

Other popular platforms operating in the region include Seychelles-registered Huobi Global, OKX, KuCoin, and Mexc Global. Bybit, a Singapore-registered cryptocurrency exchange, stated that it would continue to adhere to its ethos and support transparency, freedom and decentralization. It will not impose sanctions on Russian clients. Many of these clients may not agree with the war or the stance of their leaders.

Last but not least, Exmo, a crypto exchange based in the United Kingdom, has sold its Russian business earlier this year to a local vendor. Its domain still allows the platform to operate in Russia and the neighboring countries of Belarus and Kazakhstan.

As the war between Russia and Ukraine continues, it will be fascinating to see how crypto companies operating in the region adapt and adjust to changing geopolitical realities.

Everyone talks about crypto, while regulations fall behind

Everyone talks about crypto, while regulations fall behind

Crypto-specific jobs and standard finance businesses likewise have been ramping up their respective offerings to cater to the requirements of the particular client base.

Though a great deal of effort was put into building protected infrastructure and solutions to financial institutions to go into the cryptocurrency area, cloudy regulations remain a substantial barrier to institutional adoption.

Rising Interest in Institutional Cryptocurrency Investment

Last year has been marked by the entry of professional associations and traders to cryptocurrency, driven by the potential for value appreciation and portfolio diversification.

Boris Bohrer-Bilowitzki, the head of sales of digital assets custody and portfolio management firm Copper Technologies, sees institutional investors going into the cryptocurrency area: “From very public entrances like U.S. pensions and university endowments to European pension funds, family offices from all over the world, and sophisticated fund structures and strategies. There is also an increasing number of U.S. high-frequency trading getting into this space.

“If you’re technologically minded, there has never been a better time to be in finance. All the rules are being re-written as people begin to understand the potential of distributed ledger technology (DLT) for any asset class, traditional or digital.”

For Scott Freeman, co-founder and spouse of JST Capital, an electronic assets financial services company serving institutional investors, demand has accelerated over the last months:

“Whereas in the past many investors did not want to be the first to enter this space, we’ve now seen first movers enter the space, and now others are willing to invest in crypto as a diversified, uncorrelated investment. The market continues to evolve quickly. Clients are more comfortable than they were three months ago and will be more comfortable with investing in digital assets three months from now.”

JST Capital was set in January 2018 to deliver conventional and sophisticated financial instruments and options for banks, brokers and institutional investors coping with this fast-growing asset class.

Asian Markets: A Increase in Institutional Cryptocurrency Interest

According to Freeman, JST Capital has witnessed traction in both the U.S. and Asia, just two markets the company has operations inside. He explained the trend has been driven with these markets’ respective dynamic blockchain startup ecosystems and overall greater awareness of their technology.

“The Asian market tends to be more driven by retail investors, though we have seen an increase in institutional interest from Hong Kong in particular. We see a lot of blockchain innovation still coming out of Silicon Valley but more recently we’ve seen a lot of projects out of Asia gaining traction.”

Alongside JST Capital, Switzerland’s fintech startup Crypto Finance continues to be trying to serve Asian institutional investors attempting to acquire exposure to cryptocurrency.

On September 10, 2019, the business declared the growth of its professional electronic assets services offering into the Asia-Pacific area “a dynamic, vital region that plays a big role in both the traditional financial sector and the emerging digital assets markets.”

Crypto Finance provides controlled asset management, brokerage and storage options in electronic assets for top European and Korean banks and financial institutions, the business claims.

Need for Institutional Cryptocurrency Custodial and Trading Services

Until recently, one of the primary hurdles to institutional adoption of cryptocurrency has been custody, or the capability of financial institutions to maintain and secure cryptocurrencies on behalf of trading clients.

Without doubt, there are great reasons to worry, given the cyber threat connected with crypto-assets and their history of hacks and fraud.

Copper Technologies was founded in January 2018 to address only that. At the moment, services accessible only failed to fulfil customers’ safety criteria.

Copper’s standalone cryptocurrency custody program, Copper Unlimited, has many built-in safeguards and utilizes techniques like key sharding to guarantee maximum safety. Essential sharding is a procedure where a private key is divided into different bits, or shards, then dispersed between reputable third parties.

Copper also employs an Optical Air-Gap because of its cold storage, which offers an extra layer of security which prevents offline machines from becoming infected with malware.

Though safety is paramount for crypto resources, there is also a demand for rapid access. For this end, Copper Platform, a settlement and trade infrastructure firm, has been launched in June 2019. It joins custody with numerous exchanges such as Bitfinex, BitMEX and Binance, in addition to OTC desks.

Bohrer-Bilowitzki from Copper Technologies said:

“Having your private key locked in a mountain vault is all well and good, but it doesn’t help you execute a variety of trading strategies,” Bohrer-Bilowitzki said. “The safeguarding and trading infrastructure was developed specifically to marry the worlds of ‘hodlers’ and those that need constant, quick and secure access for trading purposes.”

As the business evolves, better alternatives will emerge.

Scott Freeman, co-founder and partner of JST Capital:

“The market is more advanced than it was six months ago and we expect to see better and more robust solutions to solve this issue over the next three to six months,” Freeman said. “There is a tremendous amount of energy going into improving custody solutions to match the needs of institutional investors, as well as the accountants and auditors who need to make sure the solutions are compliant with current standards of financial reporting.”

A Booming Institutional Cryptocurrency Industry

JST Capital, Copper and Crypto Finance are a portion of this expanding list of businesses targeting institutional gamers.

In reality, because 2018, the institutional-grade trading of cryptocurrencies and tailored custody solutions have escalated in number, together with recognized crypto startups such as the trades Coinbase, Gemini and itBit, in addition to blockchain security firm BitGo, all launch services.

Coinbase introduced its own suite of institutional products in May 2018, which it has since enlarged through tactical moves such as getting Xapo’s institutional companies in August 2019. That’s how it became the world’s biggest crypto custodian, with more than $7 billion in assets under custody. It claims to serve over 120 customers in 14 distinct nations.

BitGo obtained the green light out of South Dakota labs in September 2018 to produce and run a cryptocurrency custody support. In May 2019, the business expanded its institutional offering together with the launching of a new clearing and settlement system running off-chain.

However, this booming sector is going to get much more crowded, as conventional players have started entering the distance.

In October 2018, American multinational financial services company Fidelity Investments established an electronic advantage arm to manage crypto custody services in house and execute transactions for investors like hedge funds and family offices.

Legacy Trust, a conventional retirement and household citizenship founded in 1992, lately pivoted to function the cryptocurrency community, starting exactly what it claims is the world’s first voluntary retirement plan encouraging electronic resources on September 4, 2019.

Regulatory Landscape Requires Improvement

Institutionalization is a crucial next step for cryptocurrency to attain mainstream worldwide approval, and while startups and conventional financial institutions alike are building out the infrastructure and resources required for professional dealers and institutional customers to engage, an integral challenge hampering institutional adoption stays: regulation.

JST Capital’s Freeman said:

“Institutional Investors are eager for more regulatory clarity, particularly in the U.S. Crypto has not been around for very long and there are also some investors who simply want to see crypto-assets continue to be adopted and traded.”

Copper’s Bohrer-Bilowitzki noted that progress was made concerning cryptocurrency regulation within the last year. Undeniably, Facebook’s contentious Libra project has included a feeling of urgency into the job, but there is still a very long way to go.

“I think the technology is there, but what is still lacking is an understanding at a regulatory/industry level about what custody means for digital assets,” Bohrer-Bilowitzki said. “The regulatory landscape still needs to improve. The lack of agreement among national/regional bodies is still discouraging to some. But this too is changing rapidly for the better.”