This is bad news that the cryptocurrency industry could have done without.
This information suggests that the very difficult period that the young Blockchain-powered financial services industry is going through is far from over.
The cryptocurrency exchange Huobi has just announced a 20% reduction in its workforce in a general move to reduce costs to cope with the fall in cryptocurrency prices.
“With the current state of the bear market, a very lean team will be maintained going forward,” the Huobi spokesperson told news agency Reuters.
The company employed some 1,600 people at the end of October. However, it is difficult to say exactly the number of jobs that will be eliminated because we have no recent figures.
Huobi Token Impacted
Huobi, which is based in the Seychelles, is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges. According to data firm CoinGecko, the platform records about $318 million of trading volumes in the last 24 hours.
The announcement of the workforce reductions has impacted HT, the native token or the cryptocurrency issued by the Huobi ecosystem. HT is down 7% in the last seven days.
The firm had been founded in China in 2013 but had to go into exile after Beijing launched a crackdown against the crypto industry. As a result, Huobi now only has its consulting and research activities in mainland China while trading activities are outside the country. It has offices n Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and the U.S.
The company is owned by About Capital Management, a Hong Kong-based asset management firm.
Huobi is, like all cryptocurrency exchanges, the subject of doubts and mistrust about its solidity after the unexpected bankruptcy of FTX. Considered one of the strongest firms in the crypto space after a valuation of $32 billion in February, FTX, founded by Sam Bankman-Fried, went bankrupt on November 11 unable to meet the massive withdrawal requests of its customers.
Since then a scent of suspicion surrounded the rest of the exchanges. Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, was the subject of many rumors in December, leading to panicked customers to withdraw $6 billion from Dec. 12 to Dec. 14, a spokesperson told TheStreet at the time.
These suspicions had been reinforced by the decision of the audit firm Mazars to cut ties with all crypto firms.
Mazars said in December that it “paused its activity relating to the provision of proof of reserves reports for entities in the cryptocurrency sector due to concerns regarding the way these reports are understood by the public.”
The objective of the proof of reserves audit is to show that the crypto firm has enough reserves to deal with a run on it from its clients and investors. This audit is also intended to increase public trust and demonstrate transparency when most crypto firms are unregulated, which means that they are opaque and investors and clients can only rely on what the top executives say.
Billionaire Mark Cuban has further warned in an interview with TheStreet of a possible implosion of the illegal practice of washing trades which is expected to significantly affect centralized exchanges.
“I think the next possible implosion is the discovery and removal of wash trades on central exchanges,” the owner of the Dallas Mavericks told TheStreet in an interview by email. “There are supposedly tens of millions of dollars in trades and liquidity for tokens that have very little utilization. I don’t see how they can be that liquid.”
A wash trade, an illegal practice, consists of creating artificial interest around a financial product — a crypto token or coin in this case — to make a profit. This form of “pump-and-dump” scheme is widespread in the cryptocurrency industry.
While many wash trades have occurred in traditional finance, the crypto space is particularly conducive to the practice because nearly 13,000 cryptocurrencies are listed, according to data firm CoinGecko. Scammers have to make one or another token stand out from that pack so they can engage in wash trade.
As an example, according to a 2022 study by Forbes magazine on 157 centralized cryptocurrency exchanges, more than half the volumes of exchanges concerning bitcoin are fake.