- Customers of Las Vegas exchange Bittrex claim they are having problems withdrawing money and are not receiving any communication from the company as to why.
- Bittrex tells BI the issues are to do with new identity verification processes that are needed to comply with US regulation and protect users from fraud.
- Bittrex admits to “significant delays” handling customer queries but says it has hired more staff to deal with the backlog.
LONDON – Customers of cryptocurrency trading platform Bittrex are complaining of problems withdrawing money and say they have been left in the dark by the huge US exchange.
Several Bittrex customers contacted Business Insider in recent weeks to complain about problems. Others have taken to Twitter and forums such as Reddit.
— Tugay Turkili (@Tuginhoo) December 6, 2017
The majority appear to have issues verifying their identities when trying to withdraw money from the platform. The people who BI spoke to are angry that they have received little to no communication from the platform about the issues, leaving them confused and concerned.
Bittrex on Wednesday admitted to “significant delays” in handling customer issues but claimed the issues only affect “a small percentage of our overall user base.”
Las Vegas-registered Bittrex, which has daily trading volumes of around $1 billion, said the “enhanced” identification procedures were part of efforts to comply with US banking regulations and to protect users from fraud and theft. It said in a statement that it has recently hired more staff to try and tackle the issues.
The incident highlights teething problems for the fast-evolving cryptocurrency space, which has attracted billions of dollars of investor money in 2017 but remains largely unregulated and untested.
‘This is going on for almost 30 days now’
A Bittrex customer from Florida who asked Business Insider to use only his middle name, Andrew, said: “I, along with a lot of other users, have funds stuck with Bittrex and [am] unable to take them out due to what Bittrex calls ‘Verification Issues.’
“Bittrex has 2 levels of verification. Basic Verification, which I completed, but it said it could not find any public record to match what I entered. Then [it] gives you the option to submit what they call Enhanced Verification where you have to submit Gov ID, Passport, Selfie etc. I, in turn, did this, but that one also failed, saying ‘Name Mismatch Error.’ To top it off, they do not provide any settings page to correctly make the name change if [there] truly is a name mismatch.
“The next step is for you to submit a Support Ticket, which I then completed. My Support ticket was opened on November 6 with not a single response from anyone at Bitrrex. This is going on for almost 30 days now. I updated the ticket many times to no avail.”
— Mykhailo Sindieiev (@TheDKSU) December 6, 2017
The lack of communication means Andrew feels “Bittrex is not taking this seriously.” He said the company should be doing more to communicate with customers given its size – Bittrex is one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, with daily trading regularly topping $1 billion.
“This is a big deal because when you sign up with Bittrex, they allow you to deposit funds into your wallet and even allow you to trade without Verification,” Andrew said. “But then you cannot withdraw your funds. Even worse, no response from anyone. Bittrex is in the top 3 largest crypto exchanges and this is unacceptable.”
Withdrawal delay is a particular issue in the cryptocurrency space, which is prone to wild price swings that can occur in just minutes. Delays to cashing out could see traders profits diminished or even wiped out if the market moves against them.
Cristian Ruiz, another Bittrex customer who contacted BI, said: “They let people deposit coins on their site and then blocked them for withdraw for any obscure reason and don’t reply to mails (even worst, they doesn’t have a support call number or even an official address on the website).”
‘I don’t sleep at night because of that’
Andrew and Cristian were two of three Bittrex customers to contact Business Insider over the last week, all with similar complaints. BI has also observed similar complaints on Twitter and Reddit.
— Vadim Safin (@vadim_safin) December 4, 2017
— Makar Kel (@KelMakar) December 4, 2017
Pls help me with Enhanced Verification, I wrote to Bittrex Support about Name Mismatch, field all documents, but support doesn't answer since November 09, 2017 10:10. My ticket number: #417656 , thanks in advance
— Pavlo Dudar (@PavloDudar) December 4, 2017
Several complaints have been lodged with the US Better Business Burea. One, submitted in late November, reads: “Support doesn’t work at all, I don’t sleep at night because of that, when I put money there nobody asked about verification! And now my money blocked.”
‘We understand the process has been frustrating’
A spokesperson for Bittrex told BI:
“Bittrex recently reached out to its affected customers to explain more fully the improvements we have been making to our identity verification procedures and the reasons some accounts may have been affected. A small percentage of our overall user base has experienced delays in getting their account issues resolved, and we have recently added more staff to address those delays.
“We understand that the process has been frustrating at times, and we are committed to resolving these issues in a prompt and secure manner. We very much appreciate our users’ patience and understanding during this process.”
The company sent an email to customers on Wednesday, days after BI first reached out to Bittrex for comment. In the email to customers, Bittrex admitted to “significant delays” in processing customer complaints.
The company said the enhanced identification procedures were to “help protect Bittrex users from theft and fraud, and prevent abuse of the Bittrex platform.” BI reported last month on “pump and dump” scams operating on the platforms. Bittrex wrote to customers shortly after saying it would “suspend and close any accounts engaging in this type of activity.”
Bittrex also told customers on Wednesday that the changes were part of efforts to “comply with the Bank Secrecy Act, U.S. economic sanctions laws, and other legal and regulatory requirements.”
“Bittrex takes these compliance obligations seriously,” the company said in its email. “We are committed to making sure our services are not used to launder money, support terrorism, commit fraud or other illegal activities.”
Andrew, the customer from Florida, told BI: “I’m not sure if this is supposed to make me feel any better. What I do know is that [there is] still no response to my ticket or many others.”
Bittrex was founded in 2014 by former engineers from Amazon. The company is “a limited liability corporation formed and operated out of Las Vegas,” according to its website. A Seattle PO box address is also listed at the bottom of its email to clients.