The HTX exchange, formerly known as Huobi Global, has been hit by a series of hacks, raising concerns about the platform’s security. On November 22, a hot wallet hack resulted in a loss of $13.6 million. Just a day before, the HTX Eco Chain (HECO) bridge was exploited for $86.6 million. These incidents follow a $7.9 million hack in September and a $100 million hack against the related entity, Poloniex exchange, in November. Justin Sun, the well-known Chinese blockchain personality and owner of HTX, assured users that their funds were safe and that the exchange would fully compensate for the losses. However, these repeated incidents raise questions about the exchange’s ability to ensure the security of user funds.
After an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, has agreed to plead guilty to multiple violations. The exchange failed to comply with the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act, neglected to register as a money-transmitting business, and deliberately violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. As a result, Binance has been ordered to pay $4.3 billion in penalties and forfeiture. Changpeng Zhao, the co-founder and CEO of Binance, has personally pled guilty to violating the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act. However, the U.S. Department of Justice has appealed a decision that allowed Zhao to reside in Dubai pending his sentencing hearing. The appeal argues that Zhao poses a risk of flight and should be confined to the U.S. until the hearing.
In light of the guilty plea and the legal troubles faced by Binance, Changpeng Zhao announced his resignation as CEO. Zhao acknowledged his mistakes and expressed his belief that stepping down would be best for the Binance community, the exchange itself, and his personal growth. While Zhao will still retain the majority ownership of Binance, he will no longer be involved in its day-to-day operations. Richard Teng, Binance’s global head of regional markets, has been appointed the new CEO. Teng assured users that the exchange’s fundamentals were strong and that Binance remained the world’s largest crypto exchange by volume.
Despite the legal issues faced by Binance, blockchain analytics firm Nansen reported no significant withdrawal of funds from the exchange. In fact, Binance saw an increase in its total holdings to $65 billion, even as nearly $965 million worth of withdrawals were made. This suggests that traders and investors remain confident in Binance’s ability to safeguard their funds, despite the guilty plea and leadership changes.
The Bank of Korea, South Korea’s central bank, has initiated a pilot test for its central bank digital currency (CBDC). In partnership with commercial banks, the central bank plans to invite 100,000 Korean citizens to use deposit tokens for making purchases. The trial will focus on payment purposes only and restrict other uses, such as personal remittance, at this stage. The Bank of Korea has recognized the growing demand for digital forms of currency due to increasing digitalization in the economy. Further trials, including an integration simulation system for carbon emissions trading, are expected to explore the potential implementation of a CBDC in South Korea.
The recent developments in the East Asian blockchain industry, particularly the security breaches and regulatory challenges faced by leading exchanges, raise important questions about the future of the industry in the region. It is evident that there are vulnerabilities in the security measures of exchanges like HTX and Binance, which need to be addressed to protect user funds. Furthermore, the legal issues faced by Binance highlight the need for exchanges to comply with regulations to avoid severe penalties and damage to their reputation.
However, despite these challenges, the blockchain industry in East Asia continues to grow and innovate. The demand for digital currency, evident in the pilot test of South Korea’s CBDC, reflects the changing dynamics of the economy. As the industry evolves, it is crucial for exchanges and regulators to work together to establish robust security measures and regulatory frameworks that ensure the safety of user funds and foster trust among participants.
The recent events in the East Asian blockchain industry serve as a reminder of the importance of security and regulatory compliance. Exchanges must prioritize the protection of user funds, and regulators need to create a conducive environment that promotes innovation while safeguarding the interests of investors. With these measures in place, the industry can continue to thrive and contribute to the digital transformation of East Asia’s economy.