In a move that will surprise few observers, Bitconnect has announced that it is closing its lending and exchange platform. The company has widely been accused of operating a Ponzi scheme and was recently rocked by cease and desist notices in two US states. Immediately after the firm declared its intention to wind things up, its BCC coin plummeted from $290 to under $10 before recovering slightly. With the exchange offline, many holders have been left locked out and powerless to sell their heavily deprecated assets.
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Bitconnect Bids Bye Bye
Pressure has been mounting on Bitconnect for months, with leading figures within the crypto community, from Vitalik Buterin to Jameson Lopp, speculating that the exchange was not all it was cracked up to be. News.Bitcoin.com reported on these rumors back in November before revealing, less than a fortnight ago, that the company had been slapped with an emergency cease and desist order in Texas. Among many red flags to have set alarm bells ringing were Bitconnect’s extremely odd marketing videos, described by one commenter as being “like scientology merged with hillsong infused with dorks and used car salesmen”.
In an update posted on the Bitconnect website, the company said it was halting its lending and exchange service due to the spate of cease and desist notices coupled with “bad press” and a string of DDoS attacks. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing DDoS attacks, the blog post can’t be accessed at this time. The “bad press” that Bitconnect cites, otherwise known as accurate reporting, has been invaluable in helping guide crypto newcomers away from the platform.
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The exact workings of Bitconnect’s secret sauce that purportedly makes its investors generous returns has never been disclosed, but the general consensus is that the whole operation is little more than a pyramid scheme. It is almost certain that Bitconnect’s “intelligent trading bot” which makes profitable trades and then shares those dividends with the community, does not exist.
It is not clear whether the news of Bitconnect’s lending service shutdown heralds the end of the company altogether, although it is hard to imagine it being able to limp on in any shape or form after shuttering its main hub. DDoS attacks are a tactic that a number of deep web marketplaces have used to sow confusion ahead of an exit scam. It is impossible to ascertain the origins of the distributed denial of service the site is under, though it it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the attack may have originated from close to home.
Bitconnect Token Falls Through the Floor
With most of the BCC in existence locked in the company’s exchange, if its founders were to perform an exit scam or wind up behind bars, millions of dollars of bitcoin would instantly be locked up and BCC would be rendered worthless.
That prophecy has now come to pass. Coinmarketcap reports zero trade volume on the Bitconnect platform in the last 60 hours, leaving its token still listed at $290 there. On other platforms though, such as Coinexchange, which recorded 24-hour BCC trade volume of $1.26 million, the token dropped to $8 before recovering to around $25 at the time of publication. Coinmarketcap, the web’s go-to cryptocurrency checker, has previously come in for criticism for hosting ads promoting Bitconnect. Coincodex, in comparison, has elected to post a notice alongside BCC warning investors away. Its CEO Marko Stokelj previously told news.Bitcoin.com:
Bitconnect employs a number of dubious methods in order to operate and promote its business. The business model outlined by the company is economically unsustainable with the current level of returns unable to be validated by any legally known investment system.
While some observers in the crypto community may feel a touch of schadenfreude at Bitconnect’s demise, it is worth being mindful of the many victims who will have suffered heavy losses. Thanks to its marketing strategy, including use of referral schemes, Bitconnect preyed on newbs who lacked the necessary understanding to differentiate legitimate cryptocurrencies from get rich quick schemes.
If the news emanating from Bitconnect’s 404’d website does prove to be terminal – and it’s hard to imagine the company coming back from this – there will at least be some good to come out of this story. A number of similar sites with names such as Ethconnect have appeared in recent months, each with the same opaque business model. The fall of Bitconnect will hopefully serve as a warning to other crypto startups not to go down the same route. For Bitconnect bag-holders, though, this cautionary tale will provide little consolation.
UPDATE: This post has since been updated to include a screenshot of the Bitconnect statement in full.