Binance, the giant cryptocurrency exchange, has been warned by the Japanese financial regulator to halt its operations in the country on pain of criminal charges, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.
Binance moved its headquarters to Hong Kong and set up offices in Tokyo just before the Chinese government began cracking down on the cryptpcurrency industry in September 2017. Asked about the move in an interview with Bloomberg TV, Binance CEO Zhao Changpeng said “we generally don’t like to go up against governments”.
Now, the Financial Services Agency of Japan says that Binance has been operating in the country without a licence, which has been a legal requirement for cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan since April 2017.
According to the report, Binance has attracted a large number of Japanese customers with its relatively low fees, and it has irritated the Japanese authorities by refusing to verify their identities when they open accounts. Because the exchange handles a number of anonymous cryptocurrencies, the authorities fear that the exchange does not have adequate controls in place to prevent illegal activity.
Binance was recently the target of a major heist. The hackers were ultimately unsuccessful, but this didn’t stop the exchange from putting a 250,000 USD bounty on their heads (that is, for information leading to arrests, lest anyone take that phrase too literally). In addition to that reward, the exchange has set aside 10 million USD specifically for such events in the future, which is a move that demonstrates a lot of confidence.