Phoenix and Wasabi Wallet Shutting Down Operation in US Cites Heightened Regulatory Pressure

On Friday, the Phoenix wallet revealed plans to exit the US market, citing heightened regulatory pressure. The Phoenix team confirmed that its non-custodial Bitcoin wallet ACINQ would be removed from the Google and Apple marketplace.

The decision to exit from the vibrant US market emanated from enforcement action taken against nonlicensed crypto money transmitters. 

US Crack Down Self Custodial Wallets

A few days ago, the federal agency took legal action against Samourai and Metamask for operating as unauthorized money transmitters. Also, the law enforcers claimed that the two wallets under government investigation supported money laundering activities. 

A review of the court documents demonstrated that the chief executive of Samourai Wallet, Keonne Rodrique, and the chief operating officer, William Hill, will receive 20 years imprisonment for money laundering charges. 

Also, the two will receive an additional five years imprisonment for operating as unauthorized money transmitters. The heightened regulatory action on non-compliant firms sparked heated debates among the crypto community.

Phoenix and Wasabi Wallet Exit US Market

On X, the investors demanded to know whether the ACINQ operations complied with the requirements for the money service business (MSB). 

In response to the questions, the ACINQ team argued that the recent regulatory action on money transmitters has created confusion on whether the self-custodial wallets or Bitcoin lightning service providers operate as MSB. 

The Phoenix team complained that it was still unclear whether the ACINQ wallet should be regulated under the MSB regulation. With the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ) warnings against unlicensed money transmitters, the Phoenix team made the hard decision to exit the US. 

On X, the Phoenix team urged ACINQ users to withdraw their funds on the wallet before May 3. The shutdown of the ACINQ wallet is expected to start next week. 

The Phoenix team has advised their customers to follow the steps provided to withdraw their funds from the platform. The non-custodial wallet advised the customers not to use the force closing option on their wallet due to high on-chain costs. 

Shortly after Phoenix announced plans to wind down ACIQN operation in the United States, the Wasabi team revealed plans to suspend its zkSNACK from operating in the region. 

Global Regulators Teams Up to Address Money Laundering

In a blog post dated April 27, the Wasabi team confirmed that US regulators had imposed restrictive measures undermining the operation of its zkSNACKs wallet. They complained that the US law enforcer were advising the customers to avoid using zkSNACK. 

Following the early warning against the use of unauthorized crypto money transmitters, the Wasabi team commenced the shutting down process. The heightened regulatory scrutiny of crypto firms has elicited embroiled debates among the crypto community. 

On X, the digital partners at Piper Alderman Michael Balcina complained that instead of sending early warnings on the use of certain crypto products, it was important for US lawmakers to consider providing a comprehensive regulatory framework for digital assets. 

The official condemned the warning issued by the regulatory agencies against the use of unregistered money transmitters, which lack finer details on how digital assets should be supervised. Balcina believes that providing regulatory clarity on digital assets will be beneficial to the government and customers. 

The warning came at a time when global regulators exploring ways to address money laundering activities and other financial crimes. In their pursuit to restore financial integrity, the regulators claim that criminals are using self-custodial wallets to transfer illicit funds. 

On Thursday, April 25, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a Well Notice to Consensys, threatening to take enforcement action against the software development company. 

The SEC claimed that Consensy’s offering, including Metamask swaps and Metamask staking, contravened the law. Also, the market regulators accused Consensys of operating as an unregistered broker and dealer. 

Elsewhere, the European regulators advised the investors to conduct due diligence before transacting with self-custodial wallets. The regulators urged the local crypto exchange to conduct identity verification checks for businesses and individuals transferring above 1000 Euros.

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