|Key People||Bill Shihara, Co-Founder and CEO; Richie Lai, Co-Founder and Chief Information Officer; Rami Kawach, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer|
Bittrex is one of the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchanges. It was founded in 2014 by three senior security managers from Amazon: Bill Shihara, co-founder and CEO; Richie Lai, co-founder and chief information officer; and Rami Kawach, co-founder and chief technology officer. The three are also alumni of Microsoft.
With Bittrex looking to expand into cryptocurrency derivatives, a new partner, Seed CX, announced on December 20, 2017, that Bittrex had acquired a controlling stake in it. Seed CX's swap subsidiary, Seed SEF, had been licensed a year earlier to trade industrial hemp but the company was newly focusing on cryptocurrency spot and derivatives trading opportunities. Bittrex's Shihara joined the Seed board of directors. Seed CX CEO Edward Woodford later told John Lothian News that Bittrex no longer had any ownership in the company and that Shihara had left the board. Both facts were later confirmed by representatives from Bittrex.
On May 31, 2018, Bittrex announced that it had established a banking relationship with New York's Signature Bank, which facilitates U.S. dollar-to-cryptocurrency transactions for some customers.
Bittrex launched an OTC trading desk to handle cryptocurrency orders with values of $250,000 or more on January 14, 2019.
According to a complaint filed in King County, Washington, by a customer, Gregg Bennett, Bittrex's negligence allowed his account to be robbed of 100 bitcoin in April 2019 in a "SIM swap." “What I fault Bittrex for is their inability to see obvious suspicious activity,” Bennett told CoinDesk. A SIM swap is a fraudulent maneuver where a criminal pretends to own a person's mobile phone which has been lost or damaged and now requires the telecom provider to give them access to the SIM card. The data on the card are then used to gain access to a cryptocurrency account.
In 2015 Bittrex applied for a New York State Bitlicense. The application was rejected in 2019. According to the New York State Department of Financial Services, the rejection was due to Bittrex's "seriously deficient" customer identification program. The NYDFS found that a number of people trading on Bittrex did not provide tax information, names, or birthdates. Some were even found using "clearly false names" like "Donald Duck" and "Elvis Presley." In a letter addressed to Bill Shihara, the NYDFS said that the Department had worked with Bittrex "steadily" to "address continued deficiencies and to assist Bittrex in developing appropriate controls and compliance programs commensurate with the evolving nature of the sector." The letter said the Department had issued a number of "deficiency letters," and that due to "a number of unresolved items," in February 2019, the NYDFS had launched a four-week review of the exchange in their Seattle and Washington, D.C. offices. The letter, dated April 10, 2019, ended by saying that Shihara had 14 days to provide a written confirmation that he had received the letter, including a plan for how Bittrex planned on ceasing to do business with New York residents. Bittrex responded that some traders, including those using fake names, never actually conducted any trades. In a statement released by Bittrex following the receipt of the letter, Bittrex said that it disagreed with the NYDFS' claims, and that "corporate responsibility is in our DNA and our commitment to regulatory and compliance guidelines is second to none."
Bittrex offers its users the ability to trade bitcoin, Ether, Tether, TrueUSD, and U.S. dollars for various cryptocurrencies, including ADA, TRX, and ZEC. It also allows for the liquidation of bitcoin, Ether, and Tether to USD as well.
Bittrex announced on August 8, 2018 that it would be adding XRP/USD and ETC/USD trading pairs to the exchange, both launching August 20, 2018. The exchange also said it plans on adding more USD/cryptocurrency markets to the exchange over time, using a phased approach, or gradually doing so after spending time developing these services and markets, ensuring that they will be ready for customers upon launch.
In June 2019, Bittrex announced that it would begin blocking U.S. users from trading 32 cryptocurrencies on the exchange, including QTUM. Bittrex said this would not affect the coins' availability to non-U.S. users.
According to a November 11, 2019, article in CoinDesk, Bittrex was given permission by the U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to return funds to customers who reside in countries with which U.S. entities are not entitled to do business due to U.S. government sanctions.
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- For this firm, bitcoin is more attractive than weed. Crain's Chicago Business.
- Bittrex Inc. takes controlling strategic stake in Seed opening new trading opportunities for Institutional Crypto Trading. Globe Newswire.
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- Letter of Rejection. New York State Department of Financial Services.
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- Crypto Exchange Bittrex to Block US Users From Trading in 32 Cryptos. Cointelegraph.
- Market Availability Changes for U.S. Customers 6/21/19. Bittrex Blog.
- Bittrex Will Release Frozen Crypto to Former Users in Sanctioned Regimes. CoinDesk.