Binance, the Hong Kong-headquartered cryptocurrency exchange, ranked third in the world based on 24-hour volume, will move its operation from Japan to Malta after a warning from Japanese regulators.
Binance has relocated its operations several times due to tightened regulatory control. Last September, the Chinese government banned initial coin offering (ICO) and shut down cryptocurrency exchanges. As a result, Binance moved to Japan in October.
But last Friday, Binance received a warning letter from Japan’s Financial Services Agency saying it was operating in Japan without a license. The FSA plans to work with police to file criminal charges if Binance fails to stop its operation there, according to Japanese media.
Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, downplayed the report.
"We received a simple letter from JFSA about an hour ago," he tweeted last Friday, "Our lawyers called JFSA immediately, and will find a solution."
He then announced that Binance is moving its operations to the Mediterranean island nation of Malta.
On Saturday he posted another tweet to comfort investors. "No need to worry," he tweeted. "Some negative news often turn out to be positive in the long term."
It does looks as if Binance will receive a warmer welcome from Malta.
"Welcome to Malta," tweeted Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. "We aim to be the global trailblazers in the regulation of blockchain-based business and the jurisdiction of quality and choice of world class fintech companies."
Binance did not disclose its timeline of the new office.
Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission issued a notice to investors on the risks of investing in cryptocurrencies this February.