OKEx was built by OKCoin, one of the early Chinese exchanges, and focused on developing an international clientele. Under pressure from Chinese government officials, OKCoin was launched to offer bitcoin trading without Chinese yuan pairs. In April 2018, OKEx announced that it would move its headquarters to Malta, stating that the government there "shares many of our same values: the most important of which are protection of traders and the general public, compliance with Anti Money Laundering and Know Your Customer standards, and recognition of the innovation and importance of continued development in the Blockchain ecosystem.”
In late March of 2018, OKEx's trading platform experienced a rapid fall in the bitcoin price, which fell by almost $2,000 more than the prices on other exchanges. OKEx was accused of price manipulation, but countered those claims, saying that it had no position in the market. Despite the March 2018 turbulence, trading volumes did not fall off appreciably, and OKEx maintained its position as one of the top cryptocurrency exchanges.
In May 2018, Chris Lee, the longtime CEO of OKEx, announced that he was leaving the company. A week later Huobi, a rival of OKEx, announced that Lee would be joining them as head of M&A. Later, Lee assumed the positions of Board Secretary and CFO at Huobi.
OKEx states in an introductory notice on its website that it does not do business with U.S. residents, among others. OKEx's affiliate OKCoin US conducts crypto-to-cryptocurrency trading in the U.S., and it invested in Seed CX, a cryptocurrency exchange start-up, in 2018.
Products and Services
OKEx offers cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency trading services, including spot trading, futures trading, and perpetual swaps.
Bitcoin Cash Controversies
During the run-up to the November 2018 Bitcoin Cash fork, OKEx took extraordinary actions to cash settle outstanding Bitcoin Cash futures contracts early - that is, before the time established in the contracts' terms and conditions. OKEx said it took the steps to protect its customers from anticipated price volatility in light of the controversies surrounding the fork. Traders complained not only about the premature settlement but also that it was conducted at a price that did not reflect market prices at the time.
OKEx began offering "perpetual swaps" on bitcoin starting December 19, 2018. Perpetual swaps are non-expiring, cash-settled derivative contracts. The swap contract will have an initial nominal value of $100 worth of bitcoin. Traders will be allowed to have leveraged positions of up to 1:100.
In November 2019, OKEx announced that it had launched futures trading margined with Tether (USDT). The announcement said that it began running test simulations for the futures on November 5, 2019, and that the contracts would have a face value of 0.0001 BTC, that the available leverage permitted ranged from 0.01 to 100x, and that they would be settled in USDT.
OKEx issued a press release on December 9, 2019, stating that it would launch put and call options trading later that month on December 27. The release indicated that OKEx's offer of put option trading would be unique among cryptocurrency trading platforms. On December 26, the online cryptocurrency news service CoinTelegraph reported that OKEx had said initially only a selected subset of its customers would be able to trade options at first. General access is to be provided starting January 9, 2020.
In March 2019 OKEx revealed in a blog post that it had developed its own blockchain which it will make available for testing in June of that year. OKEx's previously issued OKB coin, an ERC-20 based token, would become the native token for the new blockchain. OKEx also said that it would develop a decentralized exchange on OKChain called OKDEx.
OKEx DEX launched in February 2020 after being delayed by over six months. The DEX exchange started in test mode. A spokesperson told The Block that the mainnet launch did not have a set date because OKEx wanted to gather as much feedback from those within the market as possible.
On March 10, 2018 a cryptocurrency trader and investor named Sylvain Ribes released a study, "Chasing fake volume: a crypto-plague," which alleged that trading volumes reported by four major exchanges (OKEx, Kraken, Bitfinex and GDAX) were subject to misreporting and that OKEx was the most obvious among them. OKEx itself offers only cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency trades while the other three exchanges included in Ribes's study offer fiat trading in addition to cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency trading. By November 2018, however, the Blockchain Transparency Institute (BTI), which was founded by Ribes, reported that OKEx's second-place rank according to CoinMarketCap now matched BTI's own ranking among cryptocurrency exchanges.
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