AirTM Crypto Exchange Is Winding Down Operations

AirTM Crypto Exchange Is Winding Down Operations

Latin American crypto exchange AirTM has announced the suspension of all crypto trading and deposits on the platform. User assets have been converted to AirUSD, an exchnage-native stablecoin, in order to be withdrawn.  

AirTM, a cryptocurrency exchange and wallet popular among users in Latin America, announced last week that it was winding down all services, including trading and custody of crypto assets. The company’s sudden decision has left more than two million users stranded as they are unable to deposit or withdraw their funds from the exchange. 

The company’s announcement is supposedly due to change in terms of operations by one of its main custodial partners. According to a report by regional crypto news outlet Cripto Noticias, the anonymous provider was Wyre, a U.S-based crypto payments solutions company which is currently facing liquidity issues. Earlier last week, the fiat-to-crypto on-ramp provider asked employees to be prepared for possible liquidation and layoffs as it was preparing to shut down operations by the end of the month. 

On January 7, Wyre announced that it will only be allowing customers to withdraw 90% of their account balances on the platform, as the remaining funds will be used by the company to finance its reorganisation efforts. 

AirTM has further stated that it has auto-converted all available user balances in crypto to AirUSD, a dollar-pegged stablecoin native to the exchange which it claims to be audited by the U.S Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The assets were converted to AirUSD on January 5, and the balance was credited to users’ accounts the next day. AirTM has suspended deposits and direct withdrawals in Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Binance USD (BUSD), Stellar (XLM), Safe (SAFE), Circle USD (USDC), and DAI stablecoin. 

However, customers have the option to transfer their AirUSD balances to AirTM’s partner exchange Belo to be converted to Argentine pesos or DAI stablecoins, minus transaction fees. As of Monday, January 9, customers have not faced any issues withdrawing these funds.

In addition to the above mentioned “preventive actions” imposed by AirTM, the exchange also brought restrictions to accounts linked to U.S and Europe-based banks. The company has deactivated direct fiat deposits from accounts with US-chartered banks, as well as purchase and withdrawals using debit cards of European banks until further notice. However, AirTM has not clarified whether these measures are temporary or if it will restart crypto trading and bank deposits again in the future. 

AirTM has been an active player in the LATAM region’s crypto space. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the exchange was the main facilitator of a $300 bonus given out to health workers in Venezuela by President Juan Guaido’s interim-government. Due to high inflation in the oil-rich country – which was the direct result of years of bad monetary policy added with economic sanctions by the United States, people had resorted to using Bitcoin as a means of payment and store of value after the bolivar lost almost all of its value.

This event led to the current government under President Maduro blocking Venzuelans’ access to the crypto exchange. In 2018, AirTM launched a $1 million fundraising programme to airdrop stablecoin assets to more than 100,000 Venuzeulans who were registered users of the platform. 

Also Check: Wyre Customers Can Only Withdraw 90% Of Funds In Their Accounts

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