U.S.A.: This week, the U.S. Marshals Service confirmed the sale of more than 3,600 bitcoin — roughly $31 million at current prices — to five winning bids in a recent auction. This is the first auction of seized bitcoin since 2016, when the agency sold the remaining 2,700 bitcoins of the 144,000 BTC seized from Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht. While most of the winning bidders have remained anonymous, NASDAQ-listed blockchain tech and mining firm Riot Blockchain has confirmed that it successfully won two lots of 500 BTC each (worth around $8 million).
Hong Kong: Earlier today, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) announced that it has issued official warnings to seven cryptocurrency exchanges in the territory, explaining that several currently listed ICO tokens are to be treated as securities rather than as virtual currencies. As in most countries, trading in securities requires a license, something not yet granted to cryptocurrency exchanges. The SEC noted that most of the effected exchanges immediately removed the problematic tokens from their platforms, and that it “may take further action where appropriate” with the remaining non-compliant exchanges.
South Korea: With new regulations finally in place, Seoul-based cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb is once again accepting new customers. Late last year, South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) announced a policy requiring real-name “know your customer” (KYC) verification procedures for all crypto exchange customers. The verification system — which is managed by the country’s banks — officially took effect on Jan. 30. While Bithumb is the first local exchange to meet the KYC criteria, competitors like Upbit, Coinone, and Korbit will likely re-open their virtual doors to new customers later this month.
Japan: Customers of Tokyo-based cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck can breathe a little easier today with the announcement that customers will soon be able to resume cash withdrawals. Late last month, Coincheck revealed that their NEM hotwallet had been hacked, resulting in the loss of 500 million NEM (XEM) tokens. Worth roughly $535 million (58 billion yen) at the time, the hack resulted the single biggest heist in cryptocurrency history, overshadowing even the catastrophic 2014 hack at Mt. Gox. Coincheck claims it will resume yen withdrawals on Feb. 13, although it is likely that the exchange will set some limits on withdrawal amounts.