Crypto exchange Binance halts stock tokens as regulators circle

The Binance cryptocurrency exchange logo is displayed on a smartphone with the word “canceled” on a computer screen in the background.

Budrul Chukrut | SOPA pictures | LightRocket via Getty Images

Binance will no longer offer digital versions of stocks like Tesla, Apple and Coinbase as the cryptocurrency exchange faces growing pressure from regulators around the world.

The world’s leading digital currency exchange by trading volume said in a blog post on Friday that it would end support for “stock tokens,” crypto assets tied to the value of certain stocks.

Binance had offered the tokens through a partnership with CM-Equity AG, a licensed investment company based in Germany. According to Binance, each token was fully secured by shares in CM-Equity AG.

Binance said stock tokens were not available for purchase on their website “effective immediately”. The company will end support for stock tokens after October 14, and users will be able to sell or hold them for the next 90 days.

European users can transfer their holdings to a new “portal” of CM-Equity AG approximately two to four weeks before Binance closes all positions on October 15, Binance said.

The company said the decision was made to “shift our commercial focus to other product offerings”.

In April, Germany’s financial regulator warned investors that Binance was likely to have violated securities regulations by introducing its stock tokens, adding that the company faces potential fines for failing to publish investor prospectuses for the instruments.

“As the crypto ecosystem evolves and Binance grows as a company, we are continuously evaluating our products and working with our partners to meet the needs of our users,” a Binance spokesperson told CNBC.

“We take our legal obligations very seriously and work cooperatively with regulators and law enforcement agencies. We do not comment on specific matters or inquiries. “

Binance’s share tokens allow users to buy a fraction of the shares of listed companies without paying commission fees. The stocks on offer included Apple, Coinbase, Microsoft, MicroStrategy, and Tesla. The prices were settled in the company’s own dollar-pegged stablecoin Binance USD.

Binance is facing growing crackdowns from regulators around the world. Last month, UK market regulators banned the company from performing regulated services in the country, while Italy’s securities regulator said Thursday that Binance was not authorized to provide securities services to Italians.

Regulators in Japan, Canada and Thailand have also issued warnings about Binance.

Last week, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao – known in the crypto industry as “CZ” – said his company “has plenty of room to grow” and that “compliance is a journey” in the emerging digital asset market.

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