The boss of a Malta-based cryptocurrency giant has apologised to users after a litany of errors which left many with messages saying their accounts had a zero balance.

Binance’s CEO Changpeng Zhao wrote on the company’s website that it had been a tough week for both the company and its users, which had resulted in many being unable to access their accounts or discovering them with a zero balance.

Mr Zhao wrote that the company will be making it a priority to increase the capacity on the cryptocurrency exchange website to increase accessibility and avoid a backlog of requests to access it and make withdrawals or transfers. The CEO’s comments follow those from Binance’s customers who claimed their balances were incorrect and their orders for more cryptocurrency were not being processed.

“Instead of a ‘funds are SAFU [Secure Asset Fund for Users]’, CZ [Changpeng Zhao] is telling us we’ll be able to trade $NEO x50 tomorrow,” one customer wrote on Twitter.

MFSA 'assessing' Binance activities

Binance, originally formed in Hong Kong in September 2017, opened its Malta base in March 2018, making it the first crypto-currency exchange in Malta to allow users to withdraw and deposit their cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

At the time, Mr Zhao had praised Malta as being "very progressive for crypto and fintech". 

But while the firm has a registered presence in Malta, the financial regulator has emphasised that Binance is not operating its cryptocurrency business under local laws. 

"Binance is not authorised by the MFSA to operate in the crypto currency sphere and is therefore not subject to regulatory oversight by the MFSA," the regulator said on Friday. 

"The authority is however assessing if Binance has any activities in Malta which may not fall within the realm of regulatory oversight".

Users report complaints

This week's bugs left some Binance users reporting having no currency in their digital wallets or having far more than they actually had.

“No big deal, my wallet says I’ve been liquidated of my entire portfolio,” one user said, while another joked that, “My total balance is showing 50K. I am so rich, yet my actual balance is less than 2K.”

One user said he had had enough with the problems he was facing and decided to withdraw all his funds from his Binance account.

“I withdrew all my funds today. I was getting all sorts of errors and then it took me 10 tries to withdraw. Binance kept logging me out when I pressed withdraw. Then when I was trying to log in, it said the account doesn’t exist.”

Mr Zhao said that the order book which allows buyers to order cryptocurrency had also been affected by a sudden drop in data speed.

This caused the requests for orders and balances to be backlogged and delayed.

He explained that improvements will be rolled out this week to increase the capacity.

The CEO has previously tweeted to customers that this was “a fixable problem with a combination of short, medium- and long-term solutions. Not everything can be implemented right away but they will get done”.

This is not the first time the company has experienced problems. Hackers managed to steal €35 million worth of bitcoin from the company last May. The company later stopped all withdrawals and deposits while it tried to identify weaknesses in its systems and resolve them. In October 2018, the exchange was referred to the New York State Department of Financial Services for potential violation of its virtual currency regulations.

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