A familiar-looking cryptocurrency exchange launched this weekend. Named WEX, it’s the spitting image of former popular platform BTC-e. So similar are the two, in fact, that WEX even has BTC-e’s customer accounts. However the exchange claims not to be formally linked to BTC-e and says it didn’t receive that exchange’s balances.
WEX Migrates Interface, Accounts from BTC-e
WEX admits it has migrated all BTC-e identity and customer credentials to its platform, but claims to be an entirely new team. It also says the new exchange “will operate according to AML/KYC laws and world legislation in this field”.
Whatever the official relationship, it’s clear WEX is the successor to BTC-e. The temporary BTC-e.nz domain, where customers logged in to claim a deal on their balances, now forwards to WEX.nz. The BTC-e twitter account announced the launch:
— BTC-E (@btcecom) September 15, 2017
The site design, interface and currency trading pairs are all also identical, and BTC-e’s famous “trollbox” live chat has returned. WEX says it will operate in “test mode” for three to seven working days, during which withdrawals are limited.
The new exchange will also utilize the same banks and payment processors as BTC-e. Those include Webmoney, Yandex Money, QIWI, PerfectMoney, 100 Money, advcash and several others. There’s also a cash delivery service for several former USSR countries and some parts of Asia.
BTC-e or Not BTC-e, That Is the Question
It’s not clear where WEX’s fiat and cryptocurrency balances come from, if not BTC-e. The launch announcement stated:
“We want to emphasize that our company did not cooperate with BTC-E Always Efficient LLP in any way and did not receive their funds.”
But it also concluded with: “Thank you, that you believed in us. Thank you that you are with us.” The new company said it is building business partnerships and also advertised for developers.
BTC-e Seizure and New Deal
BTC-e was one of Bitcoin’s oldest and most popular exchanges for over five years. Believed to be operated by Russians from Cyprus and/or other locations in Eastern Europe, it was also famous for not complying with the strict customer identity rules imposed other exchanges.
That all changed in July 2017, when a joint operation by six U.S. federal government agencies shut the platform down and seized its domain. Controversially, the feds also seized cryptocurrency balances belonging to users without explanation — whether they belonged to U.S. citizens or not, and whether the users were criminals or not.
There was a catch, though. Users could withdraw 55 percent of their balances immediately and without question, if they forfeited any further claims. Or they could keep their balances on the new exchange and accept 45 percent as IOU tokens, in the hope they could gain back the full value someday.
Presumably, that also meant identifying themselves. There are no exact figures available on how many chose each option — but if BTC-e users were as privacy-conscious as they claimed, many likely took what they could.
For all the talk about China’s draconian regulation of exchanges recently, the U.S. remains the only national government to have shuttered a major Bitcoin exchange and seized user funds.
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Images via Unilever, U.S. federal government