Is Europe’s Second Largest Bitcoin Exchange BTC-e Having Banking Issues?

Richard Boase
Dec 3, 2013 at 19:03 UTC
Updated Dec 11, 2013 at 11:27 UTC

UPDATED on 6th December at 13:00 GMT.

CoinDesk spoke with Mayzus financial today to query the status of investor deposits delayed in transit to BTC-e. Although they said that they were unable to comment on specific customer deposits, they advised that by signing up to their services they would be able to provide some more information on individual customer accounts. Mayzus offers a wide range of virtual currency exchange services and is regulated by the FCA and HM Revenue and Customs as well as being registered with iAMTN, UKMTA, SWIFT and ICO.

Mayzus revealed that BTC-e is currently in the process of updating their customer services and server architecture, that they’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of new deposits and traffic to their site and that they are working to resolve the backlogs, and hope to have cleared all customer funds by January.

In another twist, a commenter on reddit today revealed that OKPAY requires its users to tick a box stating: “I hereby confirm that [I] will not use the funds for purchasing or exchanging crypto-currencies”. CoinDesk will update this story as more details of OKPAY’s policy emerge.

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Concerned voices are being raised about the second largest European exchange BTC-e which handles as much as 30,000 BTC in trade volume a day with users on reddit and Bitcoin Talk asserting that their SEPA and IBAN bank transfers have not been credited to their accounts for many weeks, and that BTC-e refuses to respond to their help request tickets.

CoinDesk contacted BTC-e for comment but was initially referred to their support facility located in Thailand, which when contacted, offered no response. Subsequent requests for comment have remained unanswered.

The exchange is the least transparent of the big four exchanges, the other three being BTC China, Mt. Gox and Bitstamp.

This lack of transparency has created confusion over who exactly is behind the exchange – the owners apparently wish to remain anonymous, using a long chain of banks and intermediaries to process deposits and withdrawals.

CoinDesk has learned that BTC-e does not use a bank account with a company name, instead choosing to use a third party to provide banking services.

Depositors send money to UK company Mayzus Financial Services Ltd’s Deutsche Bank account in the Czech Republic who use OKPAY, an e-currency provider registered in the British Virgin Isles to transfer users’ funds directly to the exchange.

According to Mayzus’ website:

“Mayzus Financial Services is registered in the United Kingdom as an independent organization under the number 06721866. It is also a full-fledged provider of financial services with the registration number 12492642.

Legality and security with Mayzus Financial Services are guaranteed by several international documents such as the Anti-Money Laundering Act, the license of Financial Conduct Authority of Great Britain (FCA), and by its membership in the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).”

In addition, OKPAY require notarized documents to verify its customers.

During this torturous route, the account information that is provided by BTC-e at the initiation must stay with the transaction, which may well be copied manually by hand from one account to the next. If the account information is lost, Mayzus has no way of telling (apparently) who the money is to be paid to.

Another problem appears to be that BTC-e has stopped accepting dollar transfers or transfers from US banks. As most international wire transfers are denominated in dollars, even paying money from a UK bank account into BTC-e involves changing pounds to dollars with the result that they may never make it through to the intended exchange account.

As if that wasn’t enough to worry about, some people are reporting that SEPA transfers in euros are not arriving either.

Opinions on whether BTC-e is legitimately having problems or whether something more nefarious is going on are varied with the most paranoid claiming that the exchange is simply run by thieves, and others like this user on reddit stating:

“Not to defend BTC-e, but it seems that any time something goes wrong with a bitcoin service people start shouting scam straight away. Sometimes things just go wrong…” 

Another points out:

“I’ve sent large amounts by wire and it’s always worked within 24 hours. Check your deposit was sent with EXACTLY the reference they mandate in the USD->deposit->bank wire section with all the spaces and periods. Check with your bank what they actually sent then file a ticket at BTC-e.

As for verification at BTC-e they only ask AFTER money is credited to your account and you cannot withdraw anything until you provide what they ask. You will only know this because when you press withdraw, it will say “withdraw hold” in red.”

CoinDesk will update the story as it develops.

Cash pile via Shutterstock

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